Brave Women: Iheoma Obibi is leading a bedroom revolution in Nigeria

by Festus Iyorah

Discussing related to sex is considered little more than taboo in Nigeria. It’s fine to talk about them behind closed doors, but be careful to make no attempt to complain about not getting sexual gratification, for you might crucified. 

Consequently, many women live the best part of their lives not being satisfied sexually.  They complain silently that the world of the bedroom belongs to just men: They satisfy themselves alone. There’s little room for creativity—some men still stick to the rigid, antiquated way of sexual intercourse. In sum, some, if not many women are not sexually gratified but they are quiet about it. 

However, Iheoma Obibi isn’t quiet.  

“Part of the problem we have is that women are too shy about negotiating their sexual pleasures. What we are told is you have to save yourself for your marriage and be a virgin. When you marry you’re there to satisfy your husband” she told the BBC’s Bola Mosuru in an interview.  

But this has not always been the case for women.  After working with African women and as a feminist, as a sexual health and well-being in Africa, she observed that most women are not sexually satisfied. She also observed that most of them are too quiet about it, yet they are doing something, secretly: Some of her friends will ask her to buy sex toys on her annual trips to London. 

She saw a target market, a lacuna not yet explored in a conservative and religious society like Nigeria.

“I worked with development international organization, so that gave me the opportunity to attend sexual health and sexual right workshops. I learnt about my own body and about what affects us in the socialization process as women. I knew I had a market or they (women) just wanted someone to educate them.”

Then, in 2010, she latched on the opportunity and established the country’s first retailer of sexual health products and erotica, Intimate Pleasures Desires of the Heart’ which offers a total package, from online sex toy shop to preparing bridal hampers for bridal showers, and one-on-one counseling sessions. 

Explaining her reason for going into such venture, she said: “Our society is complex when it comes to sex. There are a lot of un-spoken and hidden things that take place.  Yet the environment is extremely judgmental and the lure of the title “Mrs.” is stronger than ever. Due to pressure from family, friends, age, networks and faith institutions, women are entering marriages for the wrong reasons, making many compromises.”

Expectedly, the worst happened: series of life threats started trickling from every tom, dick and harry, alleging that her business was corrupting women and teaching them to be prostitutes.

However, poised to achieve her dream, she was not perturbed.

Having survived domestic violence as a child, she naturally grew passionate about advocating for women’s rights. She uses her writing skills to voice out about the challenges of women in the society and advocate on behalf of women who are too frightened to voice out their concerns in a complex society like Nigeria.

Aside from being the CEO of “Intimate Pleasures Desires of the Heart”- Nigeria’s first online sex shop catering for women specifically in Nigeria, she also holds regular online sex discussion via #Sextalk. She makes radio appearances often with the name ‘Madam Butterfly’ which she uses to help orient women and men sexually.

Enter the place: Nigeria’s first online sex-aid shop

My intimate pleasure is the name of Iheoma Obibi online shop, and www [dot]myintimatepleasureshop[dot]com is just a click away.

I visited the website.

From the displays of dildos, vibrators in slides on the home screen, to male sex toys and female nipple toys—everything on the website depicts nothing but revolution in the way sexual issues are seen and addressed in Nigeria. You can also call it website of pleasures where penis enhancement products, fetish fantasy mini silk rope, male sex toys, books on sex positions guide are ordered.

Just as you place order for products or goods on Jumia or konga, you can also place an order for any sex toy online.   How will they deliver since in online? You may ask.

Once you place your order online, the product will be delivered within three working days in Lagos at the rate of #1,000, while outside Lagos is #5,000.

Recounting the success of the venture, Obibi said: “It makes me glad that my business idea has allowed for women – single or coupled up – to begin to address issues around intimacy, sexual fulfilment, lust and love.

“In fact, I have had to engage a counselor because some women will call the order line and burst into tears. There’s very little opportunity for women to discuss issues of intimacy, sexual fulfilment or even address previous history if they have been survivors of sexual abuse or rape in Nigeria.”

She regularly acts as a Trainer and Facilitator and has worked as a consultant for several international agencies including UN Women, British Council, OECD, DfID and the Commonwealth Secretariat.In 2005, Iheoma was elected onto the ASHOKA Fellows network serving for three years. Iheoma has published short stories in several online e-zines and anthologies including “African Women Writing Resistance: An Anthology of Contemporary Voices” and “Pastor Saul Bottomsup” in the publication  “An Anthology of Great Writing Volume 1”

Iheoma has a BA in Third World Studies and African Women from the University of East London and an MA with Distinction in Communications Policy Studies from City University, London .

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