From the Editor: If we had followed the age old fashion of giving sensational titles to stories the title of this piece would have been ‘Botswana Diplomat assaults female journalist’, because that was exactly what happened on the 28th of September to Michaela Moye, a writer and journalist who works with a radio station in Abuja.
From the Sudan to Timbuktu, Zimbabwe to Zanzibar, our reality as women is the patriarchy, which has eaten so deep into our society that we have all been crippled. Women are the ‘softer sex’, the ones expected to smile at catcalls, assaults, violence. We are the ones expected to forgive and forget because men are the ‘hard sex’, the ones that do not cry, men are children, mere babies who ‘cannot’ control their impulses.
When a woman is assaulted or insulted, you were asked ‘what did you do to warrant this?’ When you were raped you were asked ‘why did you go to his house in the first place? Why were you dressed like that?’ Nobody asks these men ‘what the fuck is wrong with you?’ In most cases, these psychopaths literally get away with murder.
From childhood, you are socialized to be ashamed of your body. Your body is inherently sinful, so you need to cover it up in order not to ‘tempt’ boys, but there are times that your covering up might be ineffective, in this case a man may be ‘pushed’ by your ‘ethereal beauty’ to invade your personal space and touch you (inappropriately), in this case you’re supposed to smile indulgently, pat them on the head and coo ‘boys will be boys’ (giggling also helps).
A recent article examined the Nigerian Constitution and concluded that the Nigerian Justice is no Lady’ It is apparent from the tone of the constitution (which uses he for ‘everybody’) that the Nigerian woman is considered (or not considered at all) as a second-class citizen. This is predominantly the stance of the constitution on women all over Africa.
So when Mr Motlaleng, decided to touch Ms Moye’s body without her permission he was affronted that she would protest, the question he and other men present during the assault asked was ‘what is wrong with you?’
Read Michaela’s account of the incidence.
On Saturday 28 September this year, I went for a birthday party. In the wee hours of Sunday, while the party was still grooving, I decided to take a break and workaholic that I can be, I was checking my emails. Suddenly, this chap, called Marang Motlaleng materialized in front of me. He’s someone I have mutual friends with so I thought he wanted to talk to me. I lowered my phone and in that moment, he reached forward, grabbed and squeezed my breasts and started running away. I gave chase and caught him. We both fell and I tried to get in some punches and kicks but I was lifted off him. I must tell you that I have NEVER been more disappointed in Nigerian men as on that day. They were actually telling ME to calm down, that such behavior is expected. I was so mad. I couldn’t believe what they were saying to me.
One guy, who I had never seen before, kept on saying, “I saw what happened, just let it go. Man!” Even thinking about it now annoys me no end.
Anyway, there was a lot of ruckus. In the midst of it, Marang even threatened to beat me up – he and a bunch of guys he was hiding behind. I dared him to bring it on but he didn’t.
I made up my mind to write to his consulate – Botswana High Commission – and inform them of their staff’s assault on my person. Fortunately, a lawyer offered his services pro bono. We wrote the letter to the consulate, copying Marang. The only thing I asked for was a formal apology from Marang and a statement printed in a national daily about Botswana’s commitment to gender quality.
Neither the apology nor the statement have been forthcoming. In fact, Marang hired a lawyer, who wrote to my own lawyer citing Diplomatic Immunity.
My lawyer says that we cannot sue. I was hoping that there would be some provision that states that diplomats/consular staff, that commits an offense outside the course of official duties, will be liable. I am considering embarking on a campaign for some policy amendment.
My plan is to continue engaging the Botswana Consulate and of course, harnessing the power of the internet until some proper action is taken against Marang. I am told that he has acted inappropriately to several people and I am hoping that they will stand with me.