The Nigerian market scene has always been one of the biggest parts of the country. In Lagos, big markets such as Yaba, Balogun and Oshodi have traders and customers interacting almost 24/7 every single day. For big markets such as the ones earlier stated in Lagos specifically, you can say the crowd and movement of people, noise, air pollution, traffic can be some of the many discouraging aspects for customers who frequently go to these markets. However, these are all situations that for the most part may not be avoidable. It’s more or less part and parcel with the location and general feel of the market.
Nonetheless, theres an aspect of going to these markets; especially as a woman, that has constantly put a strain on the regular market visits and raised voices of concerns from women . And this is the blatant lack of respect and care for the woman’s body to the extent of (without consent)Harrasing, groping, stroking, grabbing And pulling all in the name of wanting to “sell market”.
This increasing attitude of male traders and hoodlums on women over the years have been so normalized that it was never a call for concern. It has been internalized to the point where women themselves have started to believe nothing can be changed and have accepted the harassment as a norm .
Before and after what was a successful protest that held at one of the markets, Yaba, we had 100s of women coming out to tell their stories of how they had been harassed by these strangers and hoodlums in the market in the name of “looking nice”,”having something worth touching”, “being a woman” etc. these stories and more are what fueled the need to continue the works of Market March which aims to deconstruct the norm that is sexual harassment and bumkyi in Lagos Markets to make it a less threatening place for women to be able to freely go , shop and leave by sensitizing , educating and putting strict laws In place that can aid this movement and bring it to actualization. Our culture does not permit such blatant disrespect for women's bodies and we the respectable citizen's of the state must fight to uphold our values.
We, the Market March Organisation, call on the Lagos State Government who have always opened their ears to issues of women to extend their hands to this particular area of concern. We are asking that a specific patrol service (anti sexual harassment &bullying squad) be put in place at major markets where anyone found in the act of sexual harassment of any sort is picked up and faces the law. Furthermore, we’re asking that a monthly compulsory educational programs be set up for traders to sensitize them on the matters at hand, showing them how it affects business as well as its unacceptability.