Bukoladeremi Ladigbolu, an author, youth mentor, certified marriage and relationship coach, in this interview, speaks on her new book, Don’t Mess with their Flowers, where she discusses issues surrounding rape and defilement. Excerpts:
What inspired the title ?
Don’t Mess with Their Flowers
The title talks about boys and girls as people to be treasured and not violated. Our boys and girls are like flowers; attractive, tender not to be plucked violently or trampled upon. Don’t deflower them. Guard their innocence.
Why did you write the book ?
I wrote the book to be a voice for the voiceless, coupled with the nasty experience I had as a teenager.
You said you had a nasty experience as a teenager; please share it with us.
It was in 1992; I was waiting for my admission into the university having left secondary school. I went to a bank; a community bank for a vacation job. It was there that I met this much older guy who tried to rape me. The first day I met him, he was in the office with two marketers, ladies. The second day of my appointment, immediately I stepped into his office, he sent the ladies on an errand. Thereafter, he locked the door and told me that he had a soft spot for me, but before I could interpret what he said, he had locked the door and was trying to caress me. I fought. I didn’t allow him.
It is pertinent to state here that fear is what the rapist wants to create in the victim, but for me, I wasn’t scared, it was anger boiling in me.
Rape shouldn’t come cheaply, fight as if your life depends on it, of course it does.
He told me that shouting wouldn’t work for me since it was just the two of us in the big building, but I fought; the struggle lasted for nothing less than 40 minutes. He gave up and said: “I am tired, I can’t do anything again, as tiny as you are.”
Did you report him ?
No, I didn’t, as it’s common with victims.
Most people don’t want to talk about it; they just pray that an event will occur that will erase that memory. I just wanted to live as if nothing happened.
Did this incident have a negative effect ?
Yes, the psychological trauma lasted as I kept imagining what if I had been raped. I told myself, men are horrible. Just because I wanted a job.
The experience remained with me for a long time.
Why do victims choose to be silent?
First, our shock absorber differs. We react differently to issues.
Some can’t just stand being stigmatised. It is sad that rape is still being seen as a family affair in some quarters. Poverty is another reason; I have heard cases of some victims given a miserable amount of money to keep sealed lips. Some can’t afford to get a good lawyer. Justice is often delayed and this gets victims frustrated.
How can rape be curbed?
Be security conscious.
Treat the other person as a potential rapist. Don’t be too trusting.
What is your advice to parents/ guardians?
Watch who stays with you. Guard jealously the innocence of your children and watch what and who they are exposed to.
Start sexuality education very early. It can’t be too early to start sexuality education, but it can be too late.
Your child has a right to know the name of all body parts, no nickname please.
How can one handle an abused child?
Remain calm; don’t be judgemental. Listen and listen.
It is important to stress here that there is no justification for rape. Rapists should be shamed and not victims.
What is your advice for victims?
You are beautiful the way you are. Stop blaming yourself. It didn’t happen because you attended that party or because your dress was not too long. It happened because someone chose to be brutish. It’s never your fault.
There should be stiffer punishment for rapists and careless parents.
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