This morning I was forcefully woken up from sleep by the avalanche of black berry broadcasts I received on my black berry because I forgot to turn off it before I went to bed. It was an editorial about a female robber caught in the ‘act’ of robbery in the Nigeria’s capital city. She was stripped naked from head to toe by the crowd. People took pictures of her nudity; and like a fuel poured into an incipient fire the story spread swiftly.
Having read the story, my worry about a society that is grossly attached to patriarchalism resurrected. And so many questions began to rumble in my head like a rail engine. I then began to formulate a proposition in my head and it centers on WHY. Why would a woman be stripped naked for being caught in a robbery? Even if she was caught red handed in the ‘act’ why would she be stripped naked when legal procedures have not been pursued? Why do our societal practices still negate the principles of gender equality even in the 21st century? Why do we hardly see male armed robbers treated in the same way (stripped totally naked) that woman was treated? Each time a woman is caught in an ‘act’, however untoward, we treat her with great disdain; like a pariah; like someone who has committed the most heinous offence on earth, why? Each time we read stories about a woman’s nudity we broadcast and make it spread like an inferno; we take every undue advantage to paint a horrendous picture about women; we take brainless and witless bliss from publishing such stories, why? Why do women broadcast and spread such stories and not repudiate in strong terms the gender stereotyping associated there-in? Why are majority of women always blind and intellectually lazy to raise gender issues associated with such stories? Why do we always take laws into our hands by resorting to ‘jungle justice’?
Why do these things happen? The reason is not far-fetched. If you want to know why attach NOT to each of the questions and whatever question I have provoked in your head, and the answers you seek smoothly come out and stare you in the face. Then you see my second proposition WHY NOT, which is outshone by WHY because WHY NOT exists as a sterilized and depressed notion. Purse for a second, WHY would a woman be stripped naked for being caught in a robbery? WHY NOT? WHY do our societal practices still negate the principles of gender equality even in the 21st century? WHY NOT? WHY do we derive exceptional elation in spreading pictures of a woman’s nudity? WHY NOT? Continue in this sequence and put forth your questions. It is because they are WOMEN. That is the premise upon which the proposition WHY NOT is formed.
We live in a society where women have no privacy; where men believe that essence of women is matrimonial and as such women’s roles do not go beyond domestic; where male chauvinism is ingrained and has become recalcitrant; where women are sliced every day on the altar of patriarchalism by the institutions of government; where people turn deaf ear to serious gender issues that are in negation to women existence; and where a lot of things go wrong and people pretend there is no cause for alarm.
Nothing in my opinion is in support of female robbery. But all I have pointed out is the prejudice in handling women issues; the senseless dehumanization of women who are caught in the ‘act’ of crime; the insensitivity of the society to women issues; the undue recourse to ‘jungle justice’ by the citizens when someone is caught in the ‘act’; the silent character of the judicial system to the high spate of the so called ‘jungle justice’ in our society today. I put forward the equality of the sexes: men and women. What is good for the goose is equally good for the gander. Next time you want to harshly judge a woman do not forget these lines from Lesley Lokko (the author of Bitter Chocolate): “before you pass judgment, just think about all the things you have never had to do, the choices you have never had to make.”