Nigerian women gathered in Lagos over the weekend to protest against the prevalence of sexual harassment in markets, with the first-ever #MarketMarch in Yaba.
The conversation around sexual assault in markets began earlier this year online, when Twitter user, Ozzy Etomi shared her experience of being harrased by men when visiting the market as a child, and how the behavior had become normalized. Many other women began to speak out, sharing similar stories of dealing with unwanted advances from men while at the market.
Several women took part in the demonstration, marching from Ojuelegba to Yaba with signs that read "Stop touching us" and "No be by force to buy."
However, when they reached the market, the women were met with the type of toxic masculinity that they were fighting against, as several men began to taunt and abuse them as they protested. Many appeared visibly angered by the sight of women standing up for themselves, while others began to shout "we must touch" facetiously, in opposition to the women.
"Yaba boys threw water and stones at us.It was as if we unleashed the beast in them and today I saw the physical demonstration of misogyny. They got aggressive and resorted to physical abuse", said Twitter user Moromoke.
"They made derogatory remarks about our person, they called us jobless and said we are prostitutes, they boo'ed us and sang shaming songs after us just because we made our stand known and said we won't take the harassment no more. I'm still shook, like the entitlement," she added.
Despite the brazen showing of misogyny that took place, the women made their voices heard. The Market March Organization described the demonstration as a success on Twitter: "#MarketMarchYaba was a BIG success," wrote the organization. "Big ups and huge thank yous to everyone who showed up. We had expectations, some were met, others were superseded. We stood firmly with one voice and it was clear. We have learnt a lot and can't wait to do more with what we know."
Several others online have rallied behind the women, expressing solidarity and encouraging them to continue the fight against patriarchy and gender inequality in Nigeria.
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