Countries in Africa are always shrouded as these mysterious places where women are rarely shown as agents of change. I belong to Nigeria and have been living here for years. As a women this city has grown on me and dont particularly feel safe in this country. In such a scenario if you ask me where are the pleasure pockets in my country? Is Nigeria safe for women? I will give you answers with a bit of cynicism.
Nigeria is one of the worst places in the world to be a woman (and girl) and safety of this demography is not always guaranteed. The safety of women in Nigeria is violated in virtually every corner in subtle and pronounced ways such as cat calling, groping, unsolicited touching of women in market places etc. Recently June 2017, women in Lagos state, Nigeria put together a petition and signatures to get the house of assembly and ministry of women affairs to take measures against male traders who cat call, grope, touch, and sexually assault women.
There is hardly a day when incidences of rape are not captured in the dailies. There continues to be domestic violence and harmful traditional practices such as FGM, breast ironing, widow hood rites, child/early or forced marriage opening doors to physical and sexual violences, maternal and neonatal mortality, VVF, diseases etc. There were also incidents of abductions (Chibok girls and the recently kidnapped 16 female police officers and also the frequent abductions by the Abuja Environment Protection Board [AEPB] ).
Asides being signatories to many international laws, Nigeria is sitting on many beautiful laws but most times these laws are just beautiful paper laws and hence only ensure safety on paper because they are not domesticated by the different state assemblies hence making it effective only in the Federal Capital Territory.
Safety of women in Nigeria is a big issue and will only be curbed by the effective implementation of existing policies to curb both the primary and secondary abuser. The fundamental human right to safety of any woman in Nigeria or any part of the world should not be a luxury, but a reality and necessity. Besides harassment in work places also continues without effective policies to curb it.
In such a scenario trying to find out spaces ( pleasure pockets) for women to travel alone or as in groups can be tough task. I along with Hidden Pockets, had a conducted a #makeyourcityinclusive campaign to ask women of Nigerian cities if there were some places that they found inclusive and safe.
Some of the places mentioned were Ceddi Plaza, because it houses Genesis cinemas, eat out joints & lots of shops, Jabi lake, Gurara falls (abt 30mins drive 4m Abuja) Pedam Lake.
In the name of security and safety, there is a unsaid law where there is a non-allowance in to some pleasure zones in the absence of a male companion. It was interesting to realize that there were groups that patrolled public places at night, to ensure safety for women. But what really happens is that AEPB (Abuja Environment Protection Board) pick females who stand alone in some places in Abuja etc.
Blessing Timidi asides being a Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights Advocate , she is a feminist who uses different platforms that Technology provides such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Blogging among others to initiate conversations around Feminism.