Why did I let Area boys rape me?
That’s a question I will never be able to truly answer.
Who asked this question of me?
My husband; he asked me when I came running home one morning after I was raped.
I was working then at a private hospital in Surulere and we lived at Oko oba; if you are familiar with that route, you will know that the journey from Oko oba to Surulere is a tough one due to traffic; bad roads, and unruly behavior of these danfo drivers. So, I’d normally wake up early at 5.00 am then leave the house by 5.30am or 5.45am in order to get work on time.
I am a nurse as in I studied nursing, I didn’t just dabble into it because I needed a job.
The hospital I worked in paid well but were quite strict with timing; as in, if your resumption time is 7am, you must clock in at 7am. If your shift starts at 4pm, you had better be in the hospital at that time; our director was hard on staff about timing; if you resumed late, your salary would be affected; but if you were always early, they would reward you.
My husband? His office was at Ikeja so it was an easier journey for him because even if he left the house at 6.30-6-45 or 7am, he would get to his office by 8am, so I often left him behind.
He would drop our daughter off at the crèche close to our house on his way and I would pick her on my way home from work, on the days I closed at 4pm.
That day, I got up as soon as my alarm went off. I prepared a meal for my husband and daughter and left the house at about 5-30ish. Like I said before, if I do not leave the house at the latest by 5.30-5-45am, I would not get to my office before 7am.
When I left the house, like most mornings, there were a few people too who were also going to work or market or their businesses. And you know, most times, 5.30am is early dawn and still relatively dark. Add the fact that we lived in an area that experienced regular power outage with no street lights or lights from shops that lined the road to the bus stop.
Though I had plied that route for more than two years, I felt relatively safe even though I knew that there were area boys, gang boys, all kinds of shady characters that you can find by the bus stop and market place close to the bus stop.
I had heard that they snatched ladies’ bags around that bus stop so even though I had never witnessed any robberies, I would wrap my handbag around myself.
So that day, I was hurrying to the bus stop and my mind was on many things; I think that was why I didn’t notice them following me. If I had known, I would have run. One of them quickly walked up and slapped the back of my neck, the other one pulled at my hand bag.
Fear didn’t not let me open my mouth to scream and my legs just turned to rubber when I saw the one who was pulling at my bag from under my armpit. I heard my heart beating seriously in my ears.
The next thing I knew, one just pushed me and held me tight around my neck. That was when I began to struggle for air. They slapped me and one even bit my hand as they told me that if I shouted, they would kill me and no one would even find my dead body.
It was dark and there were few people on that road, who would help me? My first thought was that they were ritualists.
They dragged me to the canal not too far from the bus stop. At this time, I don’t even know if there were people who saw what was happening, maybe they too got scared and ran or maybe they didn’t see what was going on becauae it was still dark…
My clothes were torn…my sister, I was raped…by the three of them…they beat me and raped me. I was just begging for my life. I told them I had a baby waiting for me at home.
I don’t know how long it took. I just know that after sometime, when it began to get less dark, I could hear more people going about and that was when one of them said they should let me go because many people were already coming out.
They told me to go but that if I should scream or accuse them, they would find me and finish me. I ran.
My hair was dirty, my clothes were half torn and dirty, my face was already swollen and I saw blood. I am a nurse. I knew what had gone wrong with me; I knew I was badly bruised, I knew a few blood vessels had been broken around my face and legs and thighs and ….yeah my vagina. I knew what was medically wrong with me and I knew what to do to take care of myself, particularly with unwanted pregnancy… but I became ashamed of myself. I hated myself for not being attentive on a dark lonely road…for…for many things that day.
When I got home, my husband was still home, he had taken his bath but was not dressed. I told him calmly that I fell by the canal and that I came home to change my clothes. The way I stayed long in the bathroom made him realise it was not just ordinary fall. He came to the bathroom and found me curled up on the floor and crying like my mother just died
Aterwards, I told him what happened. At first, I think he just thought maybe it was just my bag that was stolen and that I was beaten by the three thieves. He insisted we headed straight to the police station to report, especially because of my atm cards and phone. Sis, I was ashamed to repeat the fact that I was raped.
It was at the police station, after I had narrated what happened to a police woman who took my statement…I think that was when my husband realised it was not just robbery…
I noticed his body language just changed, maybe he realised that if people knew I was raped, then it means he was less of a man to still be married to me…I don’t know what happened, I just know that when we got back home, he was quiet for a long time, when he opened his mouth to speak, he asked me, “Why did you let them rape you?”
What kind of question is that?
I did not walk into the den of robbers by myself; I had no power against them; I wanted to scream but was scared for my life; what could I have done to prevent the rape? I don’t know. But this is why I am a single mother today.
My husband couldn’t stand it, he couldn’t bear it; he stopped eating my food, stopped sleeping on the same bed with me, of course it meant no sex…for seven months…seven good months.
One day, he told me he couldn’t continue to live with me; he told me to leave.
Do you know how many times I wished that I had just kept quiet and didn’t say a thing?
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)