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#MarketMarch Nigerian women demand end to sexual harassment in markets

Nigerian women embarked on a Market March, a protest demanding an end to the normalised sexual harassment and bullying of women in markets. Markets are not a safe space for women as sexual harassment by traders is rife.



Market March

Being a woman in Nigeria is tough business. Women are expected to go to the market and yet these spaces are not safe as sexual harassment by traders is rife. An ongoing practice of harassment in market places in Nigeria has left many Nigerian women scarred from the horrific experiences. Luckily for the Nigerian woman, she can draw strength from Olufunmilayo Ransome-Kuti and Eniola Soyinka, who sacked a traditional ruler, the 7th Alake of Egbaland, Oba Samuel Ladapo Ademola, for making women pay heavy taxes and maltreating them.

History has further buttressed the strength of  Nigerian women by giving reference to the 1929 Aba Women’s Uprising where thousands of Igbo women organised to protest against the imposition of Warrant Chiefs and the plans to tax women.

The government has failed to address the harassment of women in the market places. Women are often pulled by their hand, insulted and at various times stripped because their dressing was considered inappropriate by the men in the market. The Market March was organised to “end the normalised sexual harassment and bullying of women in markets.”

During the protest held in a part of Lagos known as Yaba, notorious for such harassment, the Market March Twitter handle stated, “they threw water at us, called us prostitutes, sluts, . . . ashawo. They said it was our fault that we got harassed. They claimed it was because of our clothing and asked us to stay at home if we didn’t want to be harassed.”

The movement led by Omoge Dami has received support from Egyptian feminist Mona Eltahawy who sent her love and solidarity. Nigerian presidential candidate Oby Ezekwesili also hailed the market march. “Love this. The most amazing thing is seeing all this Citizen activity. The winner of 2019 may very well be the citizen,” she said.

The bold step by young Nigerian women to demand not to be touched or sexually harassed in the market place has touched a sensitive part in the Nigerian society. Could this be a step to societal revolution in the country?


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