What Nigerian men need to know about consent
In Nigeria today, available data shows that one in four girls by the time she reaches 18 would have experienced at least one form of sexual assault.
Dr Kemi DaSilva-Ibru of Women At Risk International Foundation (WARIF) states that with a population of over 160 million and half of the population are women, considering that about 50% of the women are below the age of 24, we can infer that about 10,000 women face rape and sexual assault daily.
Nigeria’s foremost polling agency NOI polls in July 2019 shared a report showing that one in every three girls would have experienced at least one form of sexual assault by the time they reach 25 years.
The first time I heard the words JKJ was at a party in Owerri south-east Nigeria, I was visiting a friend who was attending university there and he asked me to join him at the party. It held at a private residence in the world bank area of town with food and drinks flowing and it was well attended by young people.
I was standing in the lobby downstairs finishing up a drink when someone pointed upstairs and said JKJ was there in case I was interested. I turned around to ask my friend what JKJ meant and they all burst into laughter.
I later learned that JKJ are acronyms from the Igbo phrase Jee kam jee which means “go let me go after you”. It was to my greatest shock that it was explained to me that it means running a train on a girl, typically a poor girl who had been drugged and men at these parties took turns in raping her.
They created a nice phrase for it; JKJ and every time I think about that day, I remember how horrified I was but also how the boys have no clue that this was not only wrong but it was a crime. They ended up throwing me out of the party when I wanted to cause a scene and I have never forgotten about that experience.
It is important that men start talking to other men about consent; what it is, what it not and how there are no grey lines in between. Data suggests that 1 in 3 women will face sexual assault/rape in their lifetime and when you factor in class and status it is even higher for some groups of women. We are clearly facing an emergency and seeing that men are predominantly the aggressor it high time we started speaking to each other about this.
Sexual consent is an agreement to participate in sexual activity without which said sexual activity (including oral sex, vaginal sex, anal penetration and touching of genitals) is classified as sexual assault or rape.
What is consent?
- Consent must be freely given and must never be obtained by persuasion, threats, coercion, under the influence or intimidation.
- Consent must be reversible at all times meaning that the person can change their minds whenever they want, and this must be respected.
- Consent can also only be valid if the person is aware of what the activity entails, for example consenting to vaginal sex does not equate consent to anal sex. The full picture must always be painted before consent obtained is deemed valid.
- Consent is never implied, never assumed, must be specific, always enthusiastic and clearly communicated.
We must start educating ourselves as men on what is consent and what is not so we can begin to hold each other accountable. That a woman is dressed however she wants to dress at a party does not mean you have the liberty to touch her, no always means no regardless of the situation.
Don’t attempt to have sex with a woman who has passed out from alcohol or narcotic substances, she will obviously not be able to give consent. Stop groping women at bars, in public transportation, in clubs and other places that put you in proximity with women. Stop making sexual comments about the bodies of strangers in public and if a woman asks you to leave her alone, you should leave her alone.
I think about that party often and the trauma the girl has had to live with, but we can put an end to it now, so no one has to go through that in her life. Always obtain consent for any sexual activity and never assume/imagine consent unless it is clearly communicated.