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Agonies of a Nigerian Woman Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by 'Yemisi , Finland Feb 18, 2005
Human Rights   Short Stories
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I got a SOS call from Basirat asking me to come over to her house immediately, she sounded so depressed and I kept wondering what warranted such reaction. Basirat was my course mate during Master’s class. She was a strong support for me since I was combining work with studies then: she assisted with relevant information and always went the extra mile to make sure I kept abreast of all useful information. Though we graduated the same year, she was still unemployed after four years of graduation. It was the lack of job that ‘forced’ her to enroll for the Masters Programme –because one of her aunties offered to take up the school fees.

Her call got me thinking and really bothered - what could have warranted this urgency? I had to re-schedule my programs for that evening so as to accommodate the call by this close friend of mine. This was her story:

Basirat is the eldest child of a family of 5. Their father died when she was a child and the mother was saddled with the responsibility of catering for them all. As is the custom of some African families, when the head of a family dies the family members usually give the option of ‘adopting’ the children and this may mean ‘dividing’ the children amongst themselves since they may have to part ways to live with different uncles and aunts. Basirat’s mum didn’t like the idea of having her children ‘scattered’ all over so she opted for taking care of them despite all odds. She succeeded in giving them a befitting education - though through tough times.

Basirat graduated with the hope that getting a fantastic job would help lessen her mother’s burden and make them more financially stable, but to her surprise the reverse was the case. She applied to several companies, did recruitment tests, attended a few interviews, but none ever clicked. Her world was broken: she had to depend on her struggling mother for livelihood and that hurt badly. She kept faith and believed that one day, mother luck will smile at her.

To achieve her dream of gainful employment, she didn’t rest on her oars, but sought help from everyone she knew, including close friends like me. It was in the process of doing this that she visited an influential ‘uncle’ (her paternal auntie’s husband). He was the chairman of a fast growing commercial bank. Basirat thought that he could be of help, so she discussed her plight with him and he gave her an appointment to see him. This was during the Ramadan (fasting) season. She is a Muslim, like her uncle.

Basirat prepared to keep the appointment, and was excited that there was a green light at the end of the tunnel. Unknown to her, the address given her by her ‘uncle’ was not his office, but a private guesthouse. She felt very uncomfortable discussing that with him at the lobby of the guesthouse, but kept her emotions under control

After several queries about her challenges of getting a job, Basirat thought her uncle would give her a referral letter to a possible employer, or at least employ her in one of his several companies. To her surprise, the reverse was the case. He informed her about his willingness to help but this came with a condition that she must date. He offered to give her a monthly stipend as long as she dated him steadily, and satisfied his sexual needs. Basirat was devastated to hear a man old enough to be her father, who called himself her uncle, making sexual advances and statements that caused her mental woes. He moved close to give her a bear hug, which she declined. He even said were it not for Ramadan season he would have taken her into his room to consummate their ‘union’ that very day. She was appalled, and kept praying and looking for the best opportunity to get out of his sight.

These were her thoughts: "Why did I come here in the first place? I’m not that desperate for a job? I can’t sell myself all because I want a means of livelihood? Why should uncle ever think of a thing like this? Doesn’t he know the implications? Will anyone ever believe that my uncle could do this? What if my aunt gets to hear about this and tells me I’m the one that ‘tempted’ her husband? Why did I come here? Is this what women go through? If I, a devote Muslim (always well-covered) can go through this, how much more other liberally-dresses ladies face from the male folks."

I listened with rapt attention. I could feel her pain. Tears wanted to flow, but she tried to fight it back. She was emotionally bruised. She felt ‘dirty’ whenever she recalled the experience of her uncle trying to hug her. She was scared of the future. The experience brought her more pain.

I prayed inwardly, trying to get the right words that would sooth that pain. I told her never to go to him for any kind of help again. I told her to forgive him from her heart. I referred to the courses on women abuse that we studied during our Master’s class – now a true-life experience. I made her realize that many women (young and old) face different kinds of abuse every passing day, all over the world. I told her that this experience could be a career path for her – advocacy for abused women. I made sure I made her laugh before I left. I reassured her that her future is bright and all will be well with her. She felt light, and that made me happy.

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Writer Profile

Hello there! I'm Yemisi, a Nigerian female with a passion for developmental initiatives.

I love writing because it's a way of adding value to other people's lives, i.e. sharing. We all are who we are today just because sometime in our lives we had opportunities to read what someone else had written.

I like advocating for the voiceless, especially the less-privileged ones. I love programs that focus on children, teens, youths and women. I also believe that we all can live lives worthy of emulation (by generations yet unborn) if we contribute positively - by putting in our best in whatever we are involved in.

My first degree is in Economics and I also have a Masters in Humanitarian & Refugee Studies. I'm currently in University of Jyväskylä, Finland studying for a Masters in Development and International Cooperation.

I'm interested in issues relating to children, youth and women empowerment, especially in developing countries like Nigeria.

I have authored 3 books titled - "Child Development: Whose Role", "Let's Help Nigeria", and "Charisma and Character".

I am a facilitator, trainer, business advisor/consultant and a motivational speaker. My goal is to contribute to socio-political and economic development through skills transfer, knowledge sharing, networking and policy advocacy.

Thanks to TIG for giving me a unique platform to share with and meet new friends!
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