Over the weekend, the police in Abuja in the capacity of the Joint Task Force raided nightclubs and arrested over seventy women, on the grounds of prostitution. Many horror stories, such as the exploitation and alleged raping of these women by the police, has riled up women on social media. I’m livid myself and from what I observed online yesterday, there wasn’t much rage, the kind of rage that has defined the #EndSARS campaign against police brutality whose victims are predominantly men.
Until this morning. Although the #AbujaRaidOnWomen has been pushed online by men and women, and gradually gaining momentum, #SayHerNameNigeria feels more profoundly apt. We all know that the police has metamorphosed into this evil machine killing innocent Nigerians with impunity, but it will be callous to disregard the uneven power relations that plays in this recent case that involves the vile maltreatment and abuse of women.
70 women were arrested by the police in Abuja, Nigeria for “clubbing” and being “prostitutes”.
Yet there is hardly any outrage as compared to when men are the victims of police brutality.
It seems that only male lives are worth counting. #SayHerNameNigeria
— As Equals Africa (@AsEqualsAfrica) April 29, 2019
Sex workers are women with rights, their profession is not a call for violation of their rights…Police brutality should be condemned in all its forms regardless of who it’s against (men or women).#SayHerNameNigeria#endpolicebrutality#EndDescrimination
— BOYS2MEN (@ajibade_adedapo) April 30, 2019
I do not think enough people are speaking on this #SayHerNameNigeria issue…has the notion of freewill been eroded completely from the system. It’s unlawful and pathetic( to say the least) what these ‘force’ men are doing to these ladies. They should be brought to book!!!
— Just_vivian_e (@VeevVeevvivian) April 30, 2019
More infuriating is that these women arrested are largely at a class disadvantage. So essentially, the police is abusing its authority to arrest and exploit low-income earning women because, well, they can do what they like. Currently, twenty-seven of these women were sentenced to a month in prison, and with an option of N3,000 fine.
On the reported sexual assault of these women, the spokesman of the FCT Social Welfare Secretariat Sunday Shaka, has rebuffed the allegation: “The operation was jointly carried out by the police, operatives of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, and other security agents and it was not a secret raid. So, there was no way the women would have been sexually assaulted because after they were arrested, they were taken to the Utako Police Station for profiling after which those who had no case to answer were released, while the others were detained and a charge prepared for their prosecution.”
At this point, we really can’t believe anything until one of the women comes forward to say they were sexually assaulted. Hopefully, the #SayHerNameNigeria hashtag gains speedy momentum online and opens conversation of how badly women are treated.
When Bernard Dayo isn’t writing about pop culture, he’s watching horror movies, anime and trying to pretend his addiction to Netflix isn’t a serious condition.