Fatima Musa Aliyu Is the senior Program officer of Bridge Connect Africa Initiative.
To Fatima Musa Sexual and Gender-based violence (SGBV) is a major concern to every well meaning human as it is a human right abuse. Women and girls are usually the most vulnerable to SGBV and financial dependence is one of the reasons that makes women and girls vulnerable to SGBV. In this interview Fatima Musa outlined how Sexual and gender-based violence happen in the form of physical violence, sexual violence, emotional violence, verbal violence, economic violence (depriving people especially women the right to financial independence) and social violence (denying women their right to association) and intimate partner violence and domestic violence.
How can you define Sexual harassment in a way that captures all that it entails ?
Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual advances or request for sexual favor that is capable of creating unfavorable environment for victims. This includes verbal communication, body gestures or it could be done in written form.
However it is done, if it s not welcome by the person who it is being done to or the person finds it demeaning it is sexual harassment.
What Gender do you think are most vulnerable to Sexual harassment and what are the causes of Sexual harassment ?
It is of course the female Gender. One of the reasons is the existence of some harmful traditional/cultural practices like female genital mutilation, child marriage as it exposes girl children to sexual exploitation, barring of women from their homes during their menstrual periods, Harmful gender stereotypes also contribute like the believe that women are supposed to dress in certain ways defined by the society, the believe that women are sex objects, the believe that women are only meant for the kitchen and labor room. For domestic and intimate partner violence forced marriage is a major factor, then infidelity and in some cases irresponsibility on the part of the husbands, Emotional violence usual arises from infidelity, lack of the ability of men to satisfy their wives sexually, social isolation and even many times lack of access to finances. In many cases, women and girls who endure SGBV do so because they lack access to finances. Well one major trait of abusive men is that they hate their partners to be financially independent as there will be a limit to the level of violence or abuse they can mete on their wives if they are economically empowered.
What is your take on People that think Sexual harassment is justifiable to some women because of the way they dress
I will say it anywhere that the way women dress does not justify why some randy men should rape or sexually harass them. If dressing is the problem why are boy children sodomized by older men? Why are minors as little as 6 months raped or sexually assaulted by older people? Why do rapists not sexually harass mad women roaming about in the streets with naked bodies?
As far as I’m concerned, nothing justifies rape. It is just an act of irresponsibility carried out by people who cannot see women beyond sex, who lack self discipline and control. I’ll also like to add that it is widely believed that women who dress provocatively are those who get sexually harassed but as a matter of fact I have seen women who dress modestly yet are sexually harassed.
How do you think this perspective can be addressed ?
On social media I’ve seen a lot of people trying to change this perspective, I feel beyond social media there is more to be done. There is need to teach boys right from young age the need to see women beyond sex, to teach them empathy, to teach them that females have a lot to offer than sex and that their bodies are not commodities to be exchanged for whatever favor.
This days especially in northern Nigeria women mostly become victims of Sexual harassment by mere using of the internet, a group on Twitter has been over a number of times slammed over sexually harassing northern women on the internet how do you think this can be addressed ?
It’s pathetic that women have to go through sexual harassment even in the cyber space. There should be a channel through which offenders are reported and serious actions should be taken against them. As a matter of fact internet sexual harassment thrive because there is no serious action taken against offenders and northern women and girls should also be wary of the kind of company they keep online.
Women often upload their pictures on the internet now and they find themselves victims of Sexual harassment by the men requesting for sex or zooming the pictures to screenshot their underwear thereby commenting negatively. This often happen in northern Nigeria what can you say to perpetrators of such act and how do you think women can avoid going through such ?
It is true that northern women post pictures on social media especially twitter and Instagram and I know most of the harassment come from northern twitter space but to the best of my knowledge and from what I have seen so far, most of these women dress modestly yet the northern social media still looks for what is wrong with their dressing and ways to harass them (this include girls who post pictures of them in hijabs).
We all know the hypocrisy that reigns in that twitter space. As much as I would advice women and girls to dress modestly as the queens that they are, nobody on social media has any right to dictate for a person what to wear or how to wear what they wear neither does anyone has the right to harass anyone simply because of the way they are dressed so online perpetrators should learn some self discipline, un-folllow whoever they think is not decent enough to be on their timeline and avoid getting involved in sexually demeaning comments with women and girls online.
What ways do you think Nigerian Government can use to bring an end to Sexual harassment ?
There should be strict laws that protect people irrespective of their gender from sexual harassment or abuse. The existence of these laws alone won’t be enough, the government should also ensure the implementation of such laws.
What kind of laws exactly ?
I’m talking about the government establishing laws in public and private institutions where sexual harassment is more likely to happen. Also the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act is a good one which will help address these sexual abuse issues. In addition, sexual harassment happens and graduates to sexual abuse or violence because some women do not know their rights. There should be awareness raising on the rights of women in public places and the government should also work on getting more women in power as male domination in work places or public institutions contribute to reasons why sexual harassment thrive.
Thank you for Talking to DPH NEWS
It’s a pleasure Thank you DPH NEWS