December 15th, 2018, hundreds of Nigerian women marched in Yaba market, a local market in Lagos, to fight the normalized sexual harassment and bullying of women at markets. Here is how Market March, organizers of the march, describe the experience of the average Nigerian woman:
“The Nigerian market scene has always been one of the biggest parts of the country. In Lagos, big markets such as Yaba, Balogun, and Oshodi have traders and customers interacting almost 24/7 every single day. For big markets such as the ones earlier stated in Lagos specifically, you can say the crowd and movement of people, noise, air pollution, traffic can be some of the many discouraging aspects for customers who frequently go to these markets. However, these are all situations that for the most part may not be avoidable. It’s more or less part and parcel with the location and general feel of the market.
Nonetheless, there is an aspect of going to these markets; especially as a woman, that has constantly put a strain on the regular market visits and raised voices of concerns from women. And this is the blatant lack of respect and care for the woman’s body to the extent of (without consent) harassing, groping, stroking, grabbing and pulling all in the name of wanting to “sell market”. This increasing attitude of male traders and hoodlums on women over the years have been so normalized that it was never a call for concern. It has been internalized to the point where women themselves have started to believe nothing can be changed and have accepted the harassment as a norm.”
While the March was successful, it also revealed the entitlement and alarming attitudes of these men. In several videos shared on social media, these men can be seen saying they will harass these women, calling them prostitutes, groping and touching them, despite the presence of the police.
Now, the Market March organizers are calling on the government to enforce the laws on the books, to prevent harassment. You read and sign the petition here.
Photos via Market March