Sexual harassment includes a wide range of actions from mild transgressions to sexual abuse or assault, and in some extreme cases, rape. Sexual harassment in itself is an unfair and gross misuse of one’s strength, influence or position and age or status over another person.
It is no secret that girls, women, students, and working females or job seekers from various industries have silently suffered through sexual harassment and the perpetrators have walked scot-free. However, recent developments show that some of these issues are being brought to light, and the public has begun demanding for action. Concerning this, on her Instagram account, Dakore Egbuson-Akande posted to her 1.1 million followers that “women in Nigeria have been suffering all forms of sexual assault and violence for too long. You can only attack what you confront.” More attention is being paid to this problem. The #sexforgrades opened the floor for people to talk about even #sexforemployment, rape and assault experiences.
There is another controversy that now emerges from these issues and it concerns women speaking out about their previous experiences. The magnitude of sexual harassment and its effects on the victim should not be downplayed. Questions such as ‘why now, after so many years?’ should not be the concern. Sexual assault and rape are two of the most common but under-reported crimes. Nearly 80 percent of rape and sexual assaults go unreported because in reality, sexual assault victims decline the report or keep quiet about it. There are lots of unknown circumstances surrounding an assault experience that hinders the victim from speaking out, fear of being the most prominent; fear of harm, fear of the perpetrators’ statuses, fear of being called a liar, fear of being stigmatised, fear of injustice, culture, shame, self-blame and many more.
Speaking up about a sexual assault experience never expires. The victim’s voice has no time limit, and her truth should not have a timeframe placed on it. When someone speaks out publicly, no matter the time, they want to be heard and taken seriously, and as such, they should be given the chance. Let her be free to speak because her story has no deadline.
Sanya-Alogba Aramide, email@example.com