What is it like visiting Yaba market as a young woman?
Recently, a conversation was started by #MarketMarch against harassment of women in Nigerian markets, starting from Yaba market in Lagos. So, what is it like visiting the market as a young woman?
Being touched by unwanted grubby hands, being catcalled, receiving rude and vulgar comments... those are just some of the things that characterise a visit to the market. This is usually done to both men and women to "get a potential buyer's attention".
This has gone on for the longest time and had become the norm in Yaba market and markets all over the country.
Not a lot of people thought the conversation would ever be addressed on a grand scale.. at least not until #MarketMarch founder, Damilola Marcus aka Omoge Dami organised the first ever Market March at Yaba or Tejuosho market on Saturday, December 15, 2018.
So, what is it like visiting Yaba market as a young woman?
"I can't count how many times I've almost got into a fight. The markets are unbearable for women, it shouldn't be so." - Affiong (female)
"I am literally scared of going to that place — the grabbing, the insults, the catcalls. One particular experience that stands out... This guy selling travel boxes tried to grab me and I hissed and sidestepped him. Next thing, dude started calling me names and insulting my mother... Back then, I used to carry office pin with me whenever I go to Yaba — which is a lot, because "UNILAG student" — so I pinched him with the pin and ran for dear life. [I] crossed the road to where my school shuttle used to be back then without checking to see if cars were coming... ask people that ply that road very well, that was a deadly move." - Hannah (female, not real name)
"They are pretty vulgar when they want to be. One guy told us we should come to his shop and after of course touching us inappropriately and repeatedly, he told us our vaginas are smelling and that is why nobody will ever marry us. Another time, one told me I should come [and] when I refused he started following me [and] whispering close to my ear that he will take me and touch me until my vagina is wet and I will be begging him to stop. Again."- Ibukun (female, not real name)
"[It's] always very rough and those guys keep touching and dragging you. And if you don't answer them, they start insulting you... 'You dey mad, you no even fine.'"- Damola (female)
Men who come to the market are not spared from the touching. Some young men who spoke to Pulse recount their annoying experiences, but slightly different from that of women. In their case, they are not as vulgar.
"They also touch us. But if you challenge them, they'll ask you if you are a woman. They believe that as a man you should understand why they are touching you and not "form" like women do." - Bayo (male, not real name).
"When i shouted at one, he asked, 'Wetin dey worry you, you fine reach me? Na because you wear suit?'"- Ayoola (male).
With the success of the #Marketmarch on Saturday, people have already begun turning in testimonies of walking through the market without being touched.
Hopefully, the conversation continues and carries on to many other markets around Nigeria to end the normalised sexual harassment & bullying of women in markets, one market at a time.
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