Welcome everyone, to the very first episode of the podcast Young in Love, which talks about the disparity between SLAY-QUEENs and HOMLIEs (Homely ladies). We go deep to find out the taste and preferences of guys; knowing once and for all, which of them is really worth taking home to Mama!!! 😉
It was a sunny afternoon. I had just finished my last class for the day, so I went outside with my friend to get changed for the basketball training we had signed up for two weeks earlier. The trainings started at 2pm and ended by 4pm. I was a bit uncomfortable that afternoon because I was on my period and I felt like I had soaked myself. A part of me wanted me to just go home and ditch the basketball training, but the other part of me wanted to train so bad. I decided to stay back and train, but I had to check myself and change my soaked pad. I reached for my schoolbag to check if I had an extra pad in my bag, because I always made sure I had an extra one, just in case I had soaked myself, but then it hit me that I forgot to put one in my bag that day.
I had to find another option, so I decided to head to the school clinic and ask for one. Sadly, they had run out of sanitary pads, so they gave me a tissue instead. My friend, Mercy decided to escort me to go and check myself and also ease herself. Our school had no proper toilet. The ones they had were either abandoned or completely out of bounds for students. I and Mercy had to go to the back of the school, a very bushy area that was close to a place people called ‘Golden Gate’. That area wasn’t safe but we had no idea that was a no-safe zone because we were new students, asides that, we had used the place a few times before.
We went behind an abandoned pit toilet that was at the area to ease ourselves. Mercy eased herself before me and she had to wait for me while I eased myself too. I realised that I was not soaked and I was a bit relieved. While trying to finish up and get out of there, Mercy signalled me to hurry up, that people were coming. I quickly got up and drew my skirt down. I couldn’t see anyone coming but I could hear their footsteps as they got closer. I kept looking at my friend because I expected her to say who she saw coming, but I noticed she was scared and wasn’t saying anything. When they finally got to where we were, I felt uneasy because they were not wearing uniforms and they were boys. The both of them asked me and my friend what we were doing at that place and why we were there. We explained why we were there. We were young and naïve, so we just thought they were angry at us for going to back of the school or something. All of a sudden they both snatched our bags from us and told us to follow them into the bush. We refused at first, but then they said if we didn’t, we were never going to get out schoolbags. I was 13 and Mercy was 14. At that time, our bags were important to us and it felt like we were going to lose a major part of us. We pleaded with them to give us our bags, but they refused. They insisted that we follow them; they told us that it was the only way to get our bags back. Naïve little me, being really trusting of people, calmed Mercy down and told her, “let’s just go with them, they don’t look so harmful”.
Mercy and I followed them as they went deeper into the bushes. It felt like they were familiar with the place, like they had been there before. We got to a point, and the boys decided to split us up. One went with Mercy deeper into the bushes, and the other took me to a small cassava farm. I kept asking him where the other guy was taking my friend to and all he kept telling me to do was relax. He sat down on a heap of sand, smoking, and he asked me to sit with him. I did, but I faced a different direction.
He asked me what my name was and I told him. He said I had a beautiful name, and that his name was Udoh. While he kept asking me irrelevant questions, I heard Mercy screaming from where she was. She kept screaming “no, please”. I tried to get up several times to go and get her, to save her, but he kept holding my hand and telling me to sit down. While my friend was screaming, Udoh kept stroking my face and telling me how beautiful I was, and how he wanted to be my “boyfriend”. I kept taking my face away and he got irritated and angrily snatched my face and blew smoke from his mouth to my eyes as his fingers were pressed on my cheeks. It hurt a lot. I started panting because I realised that I was in more danger than I thought. Udoh then asked me to stand up and sit on his lap, still holding my hand. I refused, and then he dragged me and put me on his lap. A few seconds after, I heard someone coming from the direction that the other guy and Mercy had gone through. It sounded like the person was struggling with the bushes. As the person got closer to where I and Udoh were, I realised that it was Mercy running for her dear life. She was bleeding and had blood stains on her white shirt. While running, she fell down. I could not believe my eyes and I could not understand what was going on. I started laughing and crying uncontrollably because that is how I react when I find myself in a sticky situation or when something shocking happens. I tried to stand up from Udoh’s lap but he held down my laps and held my hands as well. I started calling out Mercy’s name, but as she got up, she continued to run and she left me there with him. I started crying, still calling out my friend’s name, hoping she would come back to get me but she never did. Udoh slid his right hand under my skirt, but I slapped it off, then he got angry, and then he fell me to the ground. He reached in between my thighs and dragged out my pantie. He tore the left side of my pantie and the other side was still firm on my waist. I struggled; I called on God, Mercy, and my mom. I felt so helpless. As he was taking his belt off while pinning me to the ground, the other boy that took Mercy came out of the bushes and told Udoh to stop, that they had to go. Udoh did not want to stop at first, but the other boy slapped his back and shouted at him to get up. As Udoh got off me, I laid there crying, and then the other guy while holding a knife, told me to sit up, as I sat up, he gave me an eye-blinding slap. I screamed! He said “give that your stupid friend her bag” and then dropped her bag on my head and mine as well, then they ran away into the bush. I sat there for a minute, crying and asking God why; why he left me there to be taken advantage of. A voice in my head told me to get up and run before the boys come back and finish what they started, so I got up and started running.
As I got to the abandoned pit toilet, a large group of school boys approached me with sticks and planks. They started asking me where the boys were, and I pointed in the direction where they took me and my friend to, then they all ran that way. A teacher walked up to me and hugged me and took me to the staff room. When I got there, I saw Mercy sitting down and holding her finger, her shirt was badly stained with blood, way worse than how I saw it the first time. It turned out that the guy that took Mercy pulled out a knife, and told her to take her pantie off or he was going to stab her on her breast. She took her pantie off but refused to lie down and open her legs like he asked her to, and then as he tried to stab her, she used her hand to push the knife away and ran as fast as she could. When she saw me, she did not say a word to me. She just kept looking at me with this bitterness in her yes. I could not understand it, so I kept asking her if she was okay. A group of teachers came into the staff room and started asking me what I was doing there with those boys and why I did not come out with Mercy. One of the teachers just blurted out that I knew the boys and I wanted them to rape my friend. Other teachers supported the teacher’s motion and kept accusing me of things I did not do. Another one said “Mercy told us everything. Why were you laughing and sitting on a boys lap? It’s because you were enjoying it right? I know it is not your first time. I am sure you are not a virgin, and that is why you set up your friend.” This was an elderly lady, a mother. How could someone even make up that kind of conspiracy theory? They all blamed me because of one silly statement I made, “let’s just go with them, they don’t look so harmful”. I was 13! I had just moved from a private school that had toilets and trustworthy teachers, to a government school filled with more than a thousand students, with abandoned toilets, and unreliable teachers. I did not understand how things worked. I never knew boys like that existed. Indeed, I was naïve.
I tried to defend myself over and over, but no one listened. I tried to make them understand that I had never seen those boys in my entire life, but no one, not even Mercy believed me at that moment. I felt very lonely and at that moment I just needed my mom. After an hour of being interrogated and falsely accused, the teacher that hugged me when I got out of the bushes and took me to the staff room, told me to sit on her lap and she hugged me tightly and said “I believe you my daughter”. At that moment, I felt safe. She told the other teachers to let me be and suggested that I and Mercy start heading home because it was past 4pm. She asked for our parents numbers and told us that she was going to give our parents a call.
I got up, picked up my bag and held Mercy’s hand. For some reason, she believed that I did not know the boys, even though she could not understand why she saw me “laughing on Udoh’s lap”. I could not walk properly because my pantie which had a soaked pad attached to it was dangling. I had to still walk. I got to the gate and took a bike home. When I got home, I felt so ashamed. I couldn’t tell anyone. My siblings kept asking what had happened to me, but I told them nothing because I was ashamed of myself. I thought it was my fault that I almost got raped. I kept blaming myself for everything. I wished I hadn’t stayed for basketball training, I wished I didn’t tell Mercy that those boys who would have taken our lives were not harmful. I hated myself.
My mom got back, she hurried into the house and hugged me, and then she took me into her room and asked me to tell her what happened. She asked me if they touched me or penetrated my vagina. I said no. She believed me. I took my bath and sat in my room, still blaming myself. As I sat in my room, my dad got back and he and my mom started discussing about it. I guess she had called him and told him before he got home. I heard them raising their voices, so I went to eavesdrop on their conversation. I heard my dad say “what was she doing there? Why is she always the one having problems with boys in school? Is she the only one in that school?” He started recalling all the times I got into fights, quarrels or misunderstandings in my previous schools. I could not believe my ears. My own father, the one who should be turning the school upside down to find out who sexually violated his daughter thought she was the one who invited the boys to the school. My heart turned black. I grew a strong, dark, ugly, deep hatred for my dad.
Later that day, my parents took me shopping for “Christmas clothes”. Well, Christmas came a bit too early. To think that it had to take a traumatizing experience to make my parents take me shopping for clothes I knew I was not even going to get that year. My parents warned me not to tell anyone about what had happened. They swept it under the rug and I remained silent for years.
I and Mercy remained friends till date. We suffered a lot in school that term. People changed the story a lot. Some students said we were raped by six guys. Some said we invited the boys to rape us. Ridiculous! We survived. We pulled through. We continued playing basketball. By the time the second semester started, the story became non-existent.
We live in a society were being violated is a taboo and the victim gets stigmatised. A society where, the victim gets blamed for being molested or sexually violated. They say things like “it is because you were not covered up properly”, “why you would go to his house in the first place? Clearly you were asking for it” and so many more stupid statements. This is a society where parents get ashamed of their daughter for being raped and in some cases, send her packing out of the house.
It is never your fault. It is not the clothes you wear, the way you smile, the way you walk, or the way you carry yourself. Never blame yourself. If I knew that, I wouldn’t have spent years hating myself and thinking that something was wrong with me. I had to teach myself how to be bold, I had to love myself, embrace that 13 year old that lost her self-esteem. I know who I am now. I know my worth, and most importantly, I do not blame myself for anything anymore.
I am sharing my story because I’m alive and blessed. I am sharing because I want people to know that blaming the victim is wrong and it should be stopped. Girls should feel safe in their societies and they should be protected, not blamed and stigmatised when they get assaulted by vicious men. Boys should be trained to treat girls better and take “NO” seriously. Let them understand that wearing a short skirt or a shirt showing a lot of cleavage is not a green light to touch us. They should be taught how to control their urges and not take advantage of girls because they need to feed their sexual hunger. Boys should respect our bodies.
Let us make our world a better place, and let us SAY NO TO RAPE.
Written by Z
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