intimidation from the police for wearing pants

efe
Posted October 5, 2018 from Nigeria

When danger lurks, the smartest move for any individual to make would be to dial ‘911’ and it is expected that within minutes, rescue in the form of the paramedics or the police or a combination of both will be on hand or so it appears in the movies but in the country I live, I have no idea what the emergency numbers are, and even if I did, having enough credit in my mobile phone to make the necessary call is not a given and even if I could surmount that obstacle, I would still weigh the odds because oftentimes it seems as if, the ‘good’ guys and ‘bad’ guys are one and the same.  

This is not a rant from an unpatriotic individual, it is the reality at least ‘my’ reality.  Twice, I have been threatened, intimated and in one of the situations in serious danger of being sexually violated by the men in black, for exercising a fundamental human right (freedom of movement) and most unfortunately for being female.

I will leave out one of the encounters. I need material for my tell-all memoir (smile) but let me share the other. This event transpired more than a decade ago but the memories harass me like a jilted lover. 

 It goes as follows: A friend from university decided to spend a few days at my place so I had to get rid of my reclusive tendencies to make her stay a bit exciting so when the opportunity came for us to attend the rap musician’s 50 Cent Concert at the Eagle Square in Abuja, Nigeria, I jumped at the opportunity.  My brother-in-Law agreed to chauffeur us in company of a male friend of his.  On getting to the venue, we met a rowdy scene of desperate fans scrambling to enter an obviously overcrowded space.  When tear gas was used to disperse the crowd, we knew it was time to leave.  My In-Law then offered to take us clubbing and so meters away from the club we got down from the vehicle with the intention to walk a few poles but about midway, we were accosted by a group of police men and almost immediately the two females in the group (my friend and I) were ordered to climb into the back of their van for being ‘prostitutes’. It was an outrageous accusation but I was too scared to retort that even if it was true that prostitution is not a crime in that part of the country.  Instead I showed my ID card (I was teacher in a military secondary school then) but it did not make any difference. They concluded by saying that decent women don’t go out at night and should not wear trousers so we had to be commercial sex workers. A phone call from my In-Law to a highly placed official saved the day.

 In the van were other women, who seemed to have been picked up from other locations. Some were pleading, some were silent but they obviously did not have any access to any ‘Big Man’ like my In-Law did but I realized that  we were all ‘lucky’ considering because not long after that incident probably metres from where we stood, a group of 6 people were killed in cold blood. 5 males and two females in what is now known as the ‘Apo 6 Murder’. It is a tale of false accusation, harassment, intimidation by the police that led to the brutal murder of six innocent Nigerians who like us had decided to go clubbing on Gimbiya Street, in Area Eleven, in Abuja.

Today I wish I can say that despite several changes in government that things are different, that we have individuals who are seriously bothered about the state of insecurity but I can’t, the only difference, I see are the political logos but the desperation, deceit and determination to stay in power are basically the same.

This story was submitted in response to The Future of Security is Women .

Comments 13

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Jill Langhus
Oct 06, 2018
Oct 06, 2018

Hi Efe,

Thanks for sharing your troubling story:-( It's so sad when we can even trust the officials that are supposed to be serving and protecting. Will there be an election there soon, and if even if there is, do you think it would improve citizens receiving protection and security that should be a right?

Hope you're having a good day. Good luck with your story submission!

efe
Aug 28
Aug 28

Thanks for connecting with the story

Jill Langhus
Aug 28
Aug 28

You're welcome!

Tarke Edith
Dec 10, 2018
Dec 10, 2018

Hello Efe
Dear sister we are living in world of no concrate law , but as womem let put our voices together and we will fight all this , thanks for sharing

efe
Aug 28
Aug 28

thank you so much

Adanna
Jan 07
Jan 07

Dear Efe,

I'm sorry about the police harassment :(

Thank you for sharing.

Love,
Adanna

efe
Aug 28
Aug 28

Thank you Adana

Beth Lacey
Jan 08
Jan 08

It is so sad to see people who have the responsibility of protecting and serving behaving this way. I am sorry you had to experience this.
Beth

efe
Aug 28
Aug 28

really sad

Lisbeth
Mar 17
Mar 17

Hi there,
Security nowadays is like a nightmares from our authorities. Its so sad!

efe
Aug 28
Aug 28

really disheartening

Nakinti
Aug 18
Aug 18

Hey Efe,
This story takes me down memory lane when some decades ago, wearing trousers to government offices was banned in my country, Cameroon. You would find workers in the offices shouting at you to go away immediately they sight you coming, in trousers. Once, I experienced that, and it was a big embarrassment. How I wish they'd just leave women dress the way they feel comfortable.

Sorry about your experience. Only continuous activism can change this. For if the women in America could win the right to vote, we can win our rights to many things through aggressive and consistent activism.

Peace my sister, peace!
Nakinti

efe
Aug 28
Aug 28

same thing here in Nigeria, women are not allowed to wear trousers in some establishments