I attended the protest on Saturday, May 4, 2019, in Abuja, Nigeria to lend my voice to that of other strong women and men against the Abuja police raid on women.
In case, you did not know about the police assault on Abuja women, here’s a back story.
70 ladies were arrested in Utako, Abuja, Nigeria for being prostitutes, some of them were raped by police officers with pure water sachets and they have injuries in their vagina.
A mother was not allowed to breastfeed her 2-month-old child until a female officer intervened.
30 women were arrested previously.
The officers that are supposed to be protecting us are the culprits. Disgusting!
If they didn’t pay 5k or be harassed by the police, they will be charged to court on Monday.
How the Abuja Police Raid On Women protest started
The birth of the hashtag #SayHerNameNigeria and #AbujaPoliceRaidonWomen started trending to create more awareness and the protest was organized by some non-governmental organizations (Stand to End Rape and Market March) for Saturday, May 4, 2019, in Abuja and Lagos. I stay in Abuja, so I attended the one there.
Threats about the Abuja police raid on women protest
On Friday, 3rd of may, they were rumors that the police will arrest us and shoot on sight if we decide to march but we were not ready to let threats get to us, this march needed to happen and it did!
Justice has to be served, the police that assaulted and rape our sisters have to be charged to court.
The Abuja police raid on women protest
The protest started at the Old parade ground, Area 10. I was late so I met them on the road to the FCT Police headquarters, we were wearing black tees and carrying placards. Some of them said
sex worker, woman deserves rape”, “until we are all free, none of us is free”, “your opinion of religion is not the constitution”, “To be a woman is not a crime”, “My body, my choice wearing short skirts does not make me a prostitute”
“Sex for bail is rape”, “It’s her today, it could be me tomorrow”, “To be a woman is not a crime”, “Women’s rights are human rights”, “Don’t rape us, protect us” as we walked to the police headquarters and when we arrived.
The anger in people’s faces, the determination to get answers, the disgust for the police, and high emotions were obvious, we clearly did not go there to play.
We were welcomed with a team of gun-wielding policemen who formed a human barricade denying us access to the premises,
Rebecca Umar, one of the representatives from Stand to end rape said
“We are here to tell the police that you, the police, is supposed to be our friend. We are women, we should be free to wear whatever we want to wear without being arrested. The police are supposed to defend us, not rape us
Silvia, also one of the organizers
Said that over 100 women have been arrested by the Police in Abuja and “branded prostitutes” without any evidence.
“According to the accounts of these women, they were raped without condoms and some policemen used sachet water bags as condoms. This is a violation of human rights. The AEPB has been taken to court on similar case and the lost.”
Aisha Yesufu, an Amazing woman
which I was able to listen to properly said
I have the right to wear a hijab and another has the right for mini and not wear anything at all. It is every one of us our fundamental human rights, you do not a right in any way whatsoever to label a woman a prostitute because of the way she is dressed.
Let me tell you something, we are all called prostitutes, our mothers were called prostitutes, our grandmothers were called prostitutes, the moment you have a voice they call you a prostitute, the moment you have refused to be calm they will call you a prostitute, if having a voice makes me a prostitute then you can call me so I don’t care.
All I am saying is that every one of us must have a right, the fact that we are women does not make us less human.
The Nigerian police, you are all out here with your guns, why are you not on Abuja-Kaduna road? We can no longer travel on Abuja-Kaduna express road. Because we are women does not make us less human.
AEPB should be called to order. These attacks and arrest on women must stop.
Ariyo-Dare Atoye one of the men that came out said
Some of us who are men and not beasts have come out to condemn this because we will not go back to that medieval period when life was nasty, brutish and short. When women were treated as only sexual objects and nonentities,”
“The attempt to continue to rape women on the account that there go to clubs and are prostitutes. How were the policemen able to prove that these girls were prostitutes? They are raped and extorted.
“It takes two to tangle. Why arrest the women and you leave out the men? A woman alone cannot be a prostitute. She cannot commit a sexual act on the street alone. If you cannot arrest the men, don’t arrest the women. If there is no man standing with a woman and they’re having sex, you cannot call her a prostitute. Even at that, they are not prostituting.
“If animals can work freely on the streets on Abuja, our women and girls have every right to work freely on the streets of this town,”
When it was time for the police to address us the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Operations), Usman Umar spoke calmly and sounded promising even though I was not buying it, this is Nigeria and we know how certain things go.
We demanded that the arrest and assault should stop and the police officers that were involved should be punished, he said they will carry out investigations and dismiss them, we said they should be charged to court and he said often times when they dismiss police officers they are charged to court, we also told him about the allegations that the police officers are dismissed publicly and will just be transferred to other states and he said even if that used to happen it’s no longer happening.
They collected the numbers of some of the organizers and the police force said they will be in touch, however, we will not back down, we will not get tired, if we don’t get results, we will march again with our black tee shirt, raise our placards and shout till they listen to us.
I felt so fulfilled attending this march, it meant so much to me, it was my first time attending a protest and will not be my last with the way my country works. it’s amazing the power of social media and women that are determined to get results. I salute everyone that came out, it was refreshing seeing friends and other creatives there and to those that did not, I hope you don’t miss next time. We need to be a collective, strong force to be taken seriously.
To be a woman is not a crime, share this and let us keep the conversation going!