Connect with us

News

Chika Oduah: It Happened To Me

Published

 on

Chika Oduah headshotI got a job in New York City a few years ago. I was new to the American North; I still reeked of the South. Pillsbury biscuits, Georgian peaches and Jiffy cornbread with a dollop of Daisy. Chick-Fil-A, Bojangles’ and Piggly Wiggly. I was a Southern American, in many ways. Cheerful, trusting, polite, Bible-wielding, slow-talkin’, Southern. South of the Potomac, East of the Mississippi. Paisley print blouses, plastic sunflowers hot glued on Payless Shoes open-toe rubber sandals. But I was all right, I guess. Perhaps a bit wide-eyed, gap-tooth grinning, but I was all right.

The job was with a news media outfit that covers Africa and the affairs of the black Diaspora. It was fashionable, in every sense, that media company. Funded by big-name multinationals, Third World saviors, it sought to tackle malfeasance and corruption with heavy handed, not always credible citizen reportage. The company had made its name among particular Westerners and Fela-loving expatriate Africans, students of the school of thought that says African governments need a total sociopolitical upheaval to weed out the kleptocrats before anything substantial can be planted, plug in the former student union grassroots activists who give a care about the proletariat, slum dwellers, retired civil servants, and unemployed twenty somethings. A single-handed crusade propelled by American dollars and mercenary Africaphiles, this media company had recruited a handful of passionate, impressionable youngsters with a compelling allegiance to Africa. Aluta Continua! Help the motherland. We thought, or at least I did.

So I went to work. My title was a new one. Within that role, I initiated new projects, helped revive slumbering ventures, planned and promoted the awesomeness of the company — what we were doing and where we hoped to go. I tuned in, excited about every single part of the job. Everything seemed fine in the beginning.

I went out with the boss one evening to hang out after work. I was still new to the North, still new to the city. A Nigerian immigrant in his early 40s, the boss had a hip rugged fashion aesthetic, quintessentially urban: distressed brown jackets and boots, a hefty brown backpack. He was the rebel with a cause, a card-carrying activist. Encrusted in the syrupy coos of his admirers, he has fans on both sides of the Atlantic. He was charisma defined.

He’d been nice to me thus far, a listening ear for my Southerner’s rants and observations on northern culture. We walked around the street corner to a swanky new spot with a shiny glass exterior and perfumed-scented, dimly lit interior. Good living people in stiletto pumps and crisp blazers, leather and lace, hung there. He led me to a couch in the corner where we sat down. I don’t drink, so I didn’t order. We chit chatted pleasantly about school, guys, Africa, Nigerians, our past, our future.

When we get up to leave, he grabs my waist. He pulls me to his chest. He leans in for a kiss. My stunned mind stops thinking. It shuts down; I hurry to turn it back on. Easy, Chika. Don’t embarrass the man. Take it easy. I slide out of his arms with a surprising calm. I’m just not interested. I say his name for effect. It works. He gets the point, yet the perplexity in his eyes remains. I never bring it up. It’s like it never happened. It never happened again.

As time goes on, I grew in confidence at work as I befriended my fellow colleagues and further solidified my commitment to “the Africa cause” and to excel in my job performance. I began expressing my opinions about the way things were done, and offering suggestions on how I thought we could improve in production quality and efficiency. The boss welcomed the suggestions, in the beginning, but only to a certain extent.

Time after time, I begin to notice a pattern: he seemed to have issues with women, especially expressive women with a backbone.

“She’s arrogant,” he would often say with a sneer and a dismissive shrug whenever I would mention names of high-profile successful women I admired. Whether it was author Chimamanda Adichie, or a well-known female journalist, or a female politician, it seemed all successful women were inherently arrogant to him.

Eventually, my efforts at work never seem good enough. The boss is known to be hot-tempered and I was often on the receiving end of his sarcastic remarks, his angst, his frustration, and disapproval. Any gaps from my colleagues, anything they failed to do, it was usually my fault. I was the office scapegoat. Some of my colleagues noticed this. They’d throw me sympathetic glances or they’d simply try to ignore the situation and keep their eyes glued to their computer screens. After such occurred not once or twice or thrice but on multiple instances, I soon became aware of the hierarchy. My male colleagues seldom received the boss’s butchering complaints. I’d arrive to work and the boss would remain silent to my greetings. My male colleagues would arrive and the boss would say hey what’s up man and crack jokes with them and have a jolly good time. He had a propensity to engage in sex jokes with my male colleagues, the kind of lewd comedy high school boys often entertain.

My female colleagues usually fulfilled the boss’s wishes without much objection, but on the whole, it looked to me like the guys were coasting.

In my role at work, I was frequently undermined. He’d constantly override decisions I had already made with his prior authorization. He’d demean my work in the presence of others. He’d sometimes shut down my attempts to join the staff in their friendly, office banter. He rarely expressed gratitude about my initiatives and strategies that were clearly having a positive effect on the company.

“Do you really think you’re directing anything?” A colleague once asked me.

The situation deteriorated. I pushed myself harder, completing massive amounts of work by staying late into the night when everyone else had gone home. Graveyard shifting, early mornings. He began shouting at me in the workplace in front of my colleagues. My cheerful, trusting, polite, Bible-wielding, slow-talkin’, Southern mannerisms were dissipating. The city was taking its toll on me. I felt like discarded mush. I planned my exit. Looked for another job.

One day he called me to meet him in the office. In the meeting, he said the company is losing money, said he had to let me go. Though I was the one who was suddenly unemployed, it was his emotions and composure that began to unravel as I fought to keep the work I had produced – works that were mine. The payment I was promised because I was not given notice of my termination in advance, he didn’t pay me anywhere near half of it. He lied and said I was never even employed, said I was just a contractor, a freelancer or something like that. My work agreement had conveniently disappeared from where I had placed it inside my work desk months ago. The intervention meeting we were supposed to have where we were supposed to present our cases before two or three mediators, well, that was conveniently cancelled. A male colleague and a prominent columnist with the company intervened, but nothing much came out of it. Perhaps, they – both guys – ended up siding with the boss.

Because the boss had already depicted me as “one of those” power-hungry, erratic, opinionated, overly assertive, selfish girls, one who eagerly challenged his authority. That false image suited his chauvinistic motives.

“You like attention,” he once told me.

Wrong. I’m actually as shy as a kiwi bird.

“You’re a career woman,” he once told me. It came out as a judgmental scoff. He’s a career man himself, but because it’s more socially acceptable for men to devote much time and energy to their professional lives, the term “career man” is seldom used.

In the workplace, women often work twice as hard as their male colleagues, yet still face the brunt of disapproval when things don’t go right, while male colleagues seem to get by. We put in overtime – a 2013 study from the Ponemon Institute revealed that women employees “work harder and longer” than men do. Another 2013 study from Edith Cowan University and the University of New England found that “women experience more rude and disrespectful behavior in the workplace, but they tolerated it more.”  We continuously strive to be on the good side of the boss. Women seem to always be compensating for something. Their womanhood?

Most of the women who worked at that company hardly objected or posed a challenge to my former boss’s sugarcoated slurs and sly insolence. But I had an opinion and I voiced it. My opinions, my free-willed spirit and intolerance for nonsense cost me my job… for that I am grateful.

My former boss’s attitude toward women is not unique.

I had a conversation with a gentleman here in Nigeria who said women in positions of power always become over-bearing, whereas men know how to handle leadership and success with humility.

“It gets to their heads,” he said of women in management roles.

Looking back, I realize that my experience at that New York City-based media company was not atypical. I wrote this piece “It Happened To Me” bolstered by the courage I summoned immediately after reading a blog post a few days ago (read here) entitled “The White Savior Industrial Complex & Sexual Harassment of African Female Aid Workers” by Lesley Agams. Agams vividly describes an assault by a male colleague while working as the Nigeria country director for the renown Oxfam GB. After the assault, the man in question handed her a contract termination letter. Many of my fellow women have confided in me, sharing harrowing real-life tales of near-rape incidents in the workplace, cases where they were told to sleep with the boss to get a promotion, and aggressive intimidation by male supervisors.

And it’s not only the overtly patriarchal, “man-is-the-head” types who are committing this abuse.

It’s also the hash-tagging, progressive, left-winged liberals garbed in trendy activist attire: thick soled boots and dashikis, plaid button-downs and worn blue jeans with worn sneakers, or cropped blazers over cotton shirts without neckties. These activists are too often propped up in a righteous spotlight. They march on as darlings of the revolution, unexamined. Their act-ivism is unstoppable… their acts, unstoppable.

I met one of these young self-titled human rights activist types. He was among those arrested for protesting during the 2012 Occupy Nigeria rallies. This guy picks and chooses his causes and apparently the advancement of women is not one of them. In his mind, women’s rights are not important enough. After I voiced my opposition to his foul groping and leering sexual advances on me, he told me “women’s rights are not human rights.”

Even the Pan-African activist revolutionary himself, Fela Kuti once sang, “When I say woman na mattress I no lie.”

Confiding in others about incidents of workplace harassment and intimidation often backfires. Some employees get terminated. Others stay in those toxic work environments after they are made to doubt their own perceptions.

Relax, calm down, maybe it’s your imagination, it’s no big deal, maybe you’re just stressed out, well you know you’re very pretty, he didn’t mean it that way, dress more conservatively, forget about it, maybe you led him on, well… ignore it, just pray about it, you can be very emotional, you’re being dramatic, um…stop working late hours in the office, say no next time, these things happen, you’re overreacting, are you sure?

Yes, I am sure.

Harassment is still harassment whether in the form of intimidation in the workplace, sexual propositions or subtle or obvious oppression.

In his 1,621-word editorial, (which you can read here) Los Angeles-based social commentator Yashar Ali compares the emotional manipulation and harassment of women to gaslighting, a coined term referencing the 1944 feature movie in which Charles Boyer’s character employs wily strategies to make his wife, played by Ingrid Bergman, believe she is crazy. Off the Hollywood production sets, real life is full of cases where women, distressed in the workplace, keep quiet for fear of being labeled troublesome. Or crazy. They allow perpetrators to go free, especially when the perpetrator is a popular man.

If we share our experiences collectively, we can break down the wall of silence.

It’s time to tell our stories.

______________________________________________________________________________________
Chika Oduah is a journalist presently based in Abuja, Nigeria.
Follow Chika Oduah on [email protected]

86 Comments

  1. Zero

    August 5, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    N wa o’ so sad…men…..Na God go punish wicked ones like these….when misfortune start 2 come their way, dem go dey pretend as if dem no know why e dey happen..

  2. X- Factor

    August 5, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    Profound!

  3. deediva

    August 5, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    Great piece. A Lot of women go through all sorts of harassment at work but it’s not only male bosses who these things, some female bosses are worse, the only thing is they don’t sec ally harass u.

  4. sco-sco

    August 5, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    First can I say I really love this piece! Really beautiful and descriptive writing. So happy to see a journalist who can really write! Now, about the issues you wrote about…how I wish women will stop making excuses but instead choose to leave toxic work environments. You are right…things like this happen to a lot of women. With the state of the economy it can be difficult to leave your job when that is the only source of income you have. How can women deal with this dilemma?

    • M

      August 5, 2013 at 3:02 pm

      But why should a women have to leave a toxic work relationship when she has earned her right to be there. why cant wicked predetors keep their insolence to themselves. It just isnt right. it is not about making excuses, it is about enjoying ones right to be treated fairly and in a respectful manner by those we women call our work colleagues.

  5. tomi

    August 5, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    {name removed}! {name removed}?? If true I am not surprised but dissapointed

    • Msunderstood

      August 6, 2013 at 4:23 am

      I thot so too but then again, it may be someone else.

  6. deediva

    August 5, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    Great piece. A Lot of women go through all sorts of harassment at work but it’s not only male bosses who do these things, some female bosses are worse, the only thing is they don’t sexually harass you

  7. jcsgrl

    August 5, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    Hmmn only 4 comments…BN you should repost this article so Monday morning readers can see it. Chika, I think I know who you’re talking about and I’m soo disgusted because he was someone I looked up to. Anyways, I haven’t fortunately experienced direct sexual harassment at work by male bosses in Nigeria especially and I attribute it to God’s supernatural covering and the way I carry myself. I’ve been told I got an intimidating look so men don’t come near. I say indirect because the boss of my company harassed almost 90% of women that worked there. I mean married and unmarried, from diaspora to nja brought-up. I had to come to conclusion that this man’s chinko must be awesome for women of all breed to fall for it. Fortunately for him. guy never crossed boundary with me. I think he wanted to shaa but fear no gree am. so what did he resort to, intimidating me. He demoted me, undermined my decisions, did everything to fire me. Because I was outstanding in my work, he had no justification. Finally, I had to leave with my dignity. The threats and embarrassments were getting out of hand!
    I considered myself lucky because I had options. I could leave but there were my fellow sisters who had no other place to go. So they caved in to his advances and harassment. this is story of thousands of women at workplaces. This evil must be rotted out. Until people will start getting punished by law for their actions, this trend will continue. I remember one of the messengers coming to tell me oga was disturbing her and one of the office chicks who was also a kezia promptly responded, “Na only you he dey chase” abeg go and do what your fellow women are doing. I was disgusted and lit her up like matchstick. I shaa counseled the chic but later found out she eventually gave in…poverty tinz. hmmn, tres sad!

    • slice

      August 5, 2013 at 11:42 pm

      what you experienced is actually sexual harassment. if he demoted you, undermined you etc because you would not “pay” to play then that’s harassment

    • jcsgrl

      August 6, 2013 at 1:53 pm

      Oh really? But he never asked me to play though. That’s why I’m not sure if it qualifies. Just started picking on me for no reason. I heard him tell people that I think I know it all and I’m arrogant but fear no gree him reach my side. Don’t know *bbm confused face

    • zsa zsa

      August 6, 2013 at 5:34 pm

      I would say more like retaliation or some other form of harassment….bottom line is he made her uncomfortable at work. When there are no labor laws or unions wetin person go do? nonsense country.

    • slice

      August 6, 2013 at 7:30 pm

      This kind is tricky because it is more subtle or implicit. From un.org/womenwatch/osagi/pdf/whatissh.pdf

      Sexual harassment:

      Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical
      conduct of a sexual nature when:
      · Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or
      condition of an individual’s employment, or

      It’s more difficult to prove that submission to harassment is implicitly a condition of employment but it happens. If for example, the other ladies that give in are promoted, but you’re not promoted b/c you did not give in, then it’s harassment. He may have directly asked you to play but if he made it obvious that your obvious rejection of his potential advances was reason for demotion etc, then it’s harassment.

  8. say what?

    August 5, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    Great article no more to add, its a big shame really. I would end up writing a novel if i decide to expand on this topic, art least you were based in America where women rights exist and appreciated unlike in Nigeria where it is non existent to the extent of legalizing female child marriage as if women are meats to be bought why didn’t they include young boys that want to marry young as well?…..insecure men are the ones intimidated by opinionated women. Mothers need to start carrying themselves better and training the next generation of boys better. I would just say God help us women folk in this part of the world.

  9. pynk

    August 5, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    The writer is spot on. I think a great part of this responsibility comes back to women, raise your sons to be the man that you would gladly marry or have as your boss. And secondly women need to better understand how to fight against oppression as opposed to one another.

  10. -

    August 5, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    I hope she is not talking about me

    • say what?

      August 5, 2013 at 6:10 pm

      And so what if she was talking about you? guilty conscience she didnt call any names….Thank God you know your evil, abi you want to carry that intimidation to the internet or do you want to go and look for her and beat her….sigh….guilty conscience

    • Sere

      August 5, 2013 at 6:36 pm

      I dont know a thing about the writer of this piece or about you. However, i have to laud the audacity of the writer to speak up about an issue as sensitive as this. Since you feel somewhat uncomfortable about this piece, ask yourself “did i truly do a thing that even remotely resembles what she described?” if the answer is no, well you’re a free man.

    • tbn

      August 5, 2013 at 11:23 pm

      The fact that you asked that question actually means she’s probably talking about you. You shd have checked if she worked with you first before asking that question. And if she did, how did you treat her?

    • Lesley Agams

      August 6, 2013 at 12:14 am

      Well if we didn’t know who she was talking about before…

  11. Tess

    August 5, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    Quite sad….I know it can be tough to leave a toxic environment, but for my dignity’s sake I will and I advise other sisters not to ‘manage’. After a while, you will still be thrown out, no matter how low you stooped, this time your self-esteem will be in tatters. Remember if one door closes, God will open another one. You are not without options. Leaving that toxic environment may just be the opportunity you need to try something new, explore options and re-invent yourself.

    Don’t be like an abused woman who feels if she leaves her abusive partner her life is over and no man will ever love her again. You deserve better, but you must take the plunge. As long as there is life, there is hope.

  12. Mariaah

    August 5, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    There’s a sexual harrasment case in court about Mrs Patricia currently ongoing in Nigeria. Link: blueprintng.com/new/2013/08/05/lawyers-beg-minister-to-investigate-sexual-harassment-case/

    Honestly, I hope she wins it! Its been a long time coming.

  13. JQ

    August 5, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    Omg,I just quit my job at a new 5 star hotel in lagos last week for the very same thing,it’s almost as if she was talking about my situation! The undermining,cutting me off and making sarcastic comments when I’m joking with my colleagues…. I remember when I stayed back to work 3 straight shifts,nobody heard about it but wen I made a mistake the next day…. Yes u guessed right… Everyone heard bout it&he even gave me a query. Luckily,the query was so unnecessary&ma hod cancelled but he followed up wit another in 2wks(lmaoooooo…..now dats determination @its peak) I had to resign there and then! I don’t regret my decision,I’m totally relieved! I can totally relate wit ur story&yes ma boss hit on me too(lol,y do dey always do dat tho)

  14. JQ

    August 5, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    Yes,I’m sure

  15. Lesley Agams

    August 5, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    Great writing Chika. Thank you for the courage to share. We women need to speak out and against it. I also love your description description of your NYC work place and the boss there. Like you said its the card carrying activists that are frequently the worse. Just like the save the world organizations are the worse at actually protecting female employees. Indeed we should start writing that book…

  16. justobserving

    August 5, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    Why are you feeling so guilty? It is in the average Nigerian male’s blood to sexually harass females irrespective of the female’s age.

  17. Hafreekan

    August 5, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    The only way to stop this is to speak up and speak out. Things will never change unless we do something about it. Also, we ladies have to stop giving in into advances by these chauvinistic men. Retain your pride and dignity.

  18. AW

    August 5, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    When I read about men like this, I begin to wonder what they would say to their daughters if they came home reporting a situation like this. Will they condem the perpetrators or condone them seeing as they are guilty of the same crime?

  19. Ejike

    August 5, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    Thought Chika was gonna take a swipe at Fela. Woman na mattress? But looking at it some other way, women might as well be. Maybe it’s time women stopped taking this shit. Maybe it’s time women started talking about these harassment and assaults. Maybe it’s time women started dragging these men to courts. Or at least threaten to. Women can indeed rise and say no. Yeah, the economic situation could be terrible but if you consider it carefully, it’s not worth your dignity and your pride. The result is always eternal shame.
    And men too, are we animals? Can’t we look beyond what we see on the outside? Can’t we look beyond sex? No wonder businesses are crumpling, we lose our best hands because we wan do. We undermine and degrade their efforts. We kill their morale and vigour. It’s really appalling and all hands must be on deck to check this. But women need to be at the front of it.
    Nice one Cheeka.

  20. Cynthia

    August 5, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    Very good piece. Reminds me of a time when a male co-worker in Lagos tried to hug me. As I tried to push him away, he held my hands down and reached into my blouse with his other hand and grabbed one of my breasts! I was so shocked that I think I experienced temporary paralysis. My regret till today is that I didn’t report it because I didn’t want him to get fired. To think that he’ll probably go on to harass more women because I was silent. I’ve learned since to cause a stink. Making sexual harassment, especially by men, something to be ashamed of is the only way to reduce its occurrence. Thank you for writing this, Chika.

    • zsa zsa

      August 6, 2013 at 2:43 am

      what!!?
      I never worked in Nigeria and sometimes i’m happy i did not because the type of bullshit that occurs is mind boggling. When i was in school i hoped and prayed none of those horny lecturers would ever hit on me because i wouldn’t know what to do….i have a terrible temper when i am disrespected or put in awkward situations….i for just break lecturer head.
      What about the worker unions in naija, abi are there none?

    • jcsgrl

      August 6, 2013 at 2:02 pm

      Chineke! Oh holy spirit constrain me cos I’m abt to jump off this chair to kill somebody. My blood is running high just reading this.

      Biko from what I’m seeing women need to be educated on how to recognize abuse, set up the abuser, get legitimate evidence and bring them to justice. Even me sef need to be edumacated!

  21. Disappointed Nigerian

    August 5, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    Oh my God! Chika is talking about {name removed} of {name removed}!!! He described him to a T. Chika, I used to follow your excellent work at {name redacted}. I wondered why I no longer see your work there.

    So {name removed} is a mean-spirited, ill-tempered, misogynistic sexual harasser? O ma se o! I had always known that something was not right about that guy. Now I have a confirmation for my suscipions. Fakes everywhere. Nigeria is doomed. Where is the hope? I’ve heard rumours that he also has a Nigerian bank account where politicians he threatens to blackmail “drop” millions of naira for him, but I dismissed it as cheap blackmail. Now I am really confused. This is so sad. Chika, you’re an excellent writer. Any organization that employs you in Nigeria is lucky. Leave {name removed} to God. He will meet his end soon.

  22. Fela Kuti

    August 5, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    I hope she wasn’t talking about me.

    • B!

      September 7, 2013 at 1:04 pm

      Maybe she was!

  23. RiskySumthin

    August 5, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    “Plaid button-downs and worn blue jeans with worn sneakers,” sounds like me 🙂 Hopefully, I’m nothing like your former boss.
    As human beings we just need to learn to treat each other with love and respect. We need to say no to oppression because women can be very oppressive too. It just so happens that men occupy more positions of power. Re-orientation is the key.

  24. temitope idowu-awe

    August 5, 2013 at 10:39 pm

    so all the corruption in Africa that the guy talks about, he is also part of it, or what do we call going through your personal effect to remove document and making up false stories about the employment agreement. Na wah o, please oga fighting for Africa, improve on yourself before asking politicians to improve on themselves.

  25. Heha

    August 5, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    God punish all of them one by one. My sista, i’m sad you had to deal with such nonsense but happy that you are now free of it

  26. ms lala

    August 6, 2013 at 12:56 am

    I HAVE BEEN SCREAMING AND YELLING that this is the reason why most women don’t want to relocate back to Nigeria to work…where is the protection in the western world you sue and you make the company pay for the damages done to you as the worker…Let them try and sue in Nigeria…opari!!!!!!!!!!!!

  27. ko matter

    August 6, 2013 at 2:48 am

    My first reaction was to judge you, like what the heck were you still doing with the firm after the first incident of an attempted kiss. Who goes back to work after such an incident. I wud have played him ehn and gotten proper documentation of all harassment incidents, by the time I start the litigation process, he will not know what hit him. I am even more angry because you are right here in America and you cant say you dont know the justice system works, there wud be plenty of lawyers begging to take your case esp if it is a high profile place like you claim. But then again, like I said earlier, my first reaction was to judge you. I have never been in your shoes and do not know your true circumstances so I cant say if I would have done what I claim I would do.

    The issue of any form of harassment is really sad, but we women have to learn to stop playing victim and attack first if need be especially in a place where the justice system works in favor of you ! And lawyers dieing to take your case (becos of the money they will make) if you are smart enough to document every incident and get witnesses. With iphones, button camera’s you do not even need a human witness. #EnoughSaid

    • slice

      August 6, 2013 at 2:56 pm

      reporting or filing a law suit regarding sexual harassment is hard…even in America. Lawyers hardly take such cases because they are incredibly difficult to prove so just a waste of time and money. second, once you file one, you become known as the lady/guy that took the firm to court and other companies may not want to hire you. Plus of course, you’ll likely be out of a job at the initial place. If you’re in this horrible position and think you may want to report it, this is what you should do.

      1. document, document, document. document what’s happening even if all you do is retain a diary. recording sexual harassment as it’s happening is very tough. A lot of these weirdos have been doing it for a long time and tend to catch people unawares. Plus it’s not always in what they say, it’s in how they say or the looks or the way the linger a little longer during a handshake or hug….making it even tougher to convince others you’re being harassed.

      2. always report to HR or another boss first before filing a lawsuit. You must follow correct procedure unless of course HR /boss is the harasser.

      3. Still no resolve, if you’re in the U.S., file a report with the EEOC eeoc.gov/laws/types/sexual_harassment.cfm. first make sure the company is covered by the EEOC. Their website should help. Or call and attorney. Me :). I’m sure other western countries have a similar organization. But if in Naija, I’m not sure one exist. If someone knows, please add it

      4. Still no resolve or not satisfied with the resolution, you may file a law suit

  28. Chi

    August 6, 2013 at 3:17 am

    {name removed} you are pervert and deserve to be punished!!!

  29. Chi

    August 6, 2013 at 3:18 am

    {name removed}, if you are truly the person that assaulted this bright young woman, God will surely deal with you accordingly!

  30. David Habba

    August 6, 2013 at 4:57 am

    A beautifully written sad note. These kinds make me swear again and again, my dedication to women rights issues. More sadly, unless the men take the lead, achieving women’s right will be a long journey.
    Chika, thanks for sharing but one thing…. tell me the name of the occupy Nigeria activist let me box his nose for you… for us all. 🙂

  31. Naija Boy

    August 6, 2013 at 5:27 am

    I just googled “Chika Oduah and Sahara reporters”. Why am I not surprised?

  32. Soum

    August 6, 2013 at 8:29 am

    My IT days were not funny..was constantly harrased by the head of my section ,when I didn’t give in it became a problem everything I did was rubbish he’ll ask me to do them again keeping me @ work till after 6pm as against 4pm.I threatened him with one of our recorded conversations and since then he maintained his cool..and I had peace of mind..But he refused to sign my log book at the end of my stay @ the section..but thankfully another staff did sign it.
    This illltreatment to women should stop..I was ready to. Report him if my threat didn’t work

  33. nickyminaj

    August 6, 2013 at 8:32 am

    awww it breaks my heart when i hear about stuff like this. I work in an IT firm dominated by men and i can assure you that nothing like that has happened in my organization. our logo is mutual respect and we all do well to live by it. sexual harassment sure does exist but not in all nigeria companies.

  34. Abiola

    August 6, 2013 at 9:15 am

    Bella Naija,

    Please, why are you trying to protect people by removing their names?
    I get that you might be scared of being sued for slander and defamation, but these comments are written by other people, I think you are not being fair by removing these names. I thought this was supposed to be a free and fair forum, for all to air their views. You should have been prepared for this when you decided to publish this article.
    POST MY COMMENT O!

    • BellaNaija.com

      BellaNaija.com

      August 6, 2013 at 9:21 am

      Thanks for all the comments.
      This is definitely an important issue and BN will continue to do our part to raise awareness and strive to eliminate sexual harrassment in the workplace.
      That said, no one has been officially charged or officially named as the harasser, therefore, legally and ethically we cannot publish any names or guesses of who the alleged harasser is.

      Please note this as you comment. Thanks!

    • randommer

      August 6, 2013 at 4:24 pm

      This makes no sense! Chika did not name the person and people are guessing based on adding 2+2 together and you are deleting it? All the guy needs to do is forward a statement saying it is not him *psshw*. Are you worried he will sue for defamation of character? why? you are not the one playing the guessing game. so disappointed in you Uche, after all it’s women that brought you where you are today.

    • slice

      August 6, 2013 at 5:31 pm

      i agree with what you’re doing. Sexual harassment is a big issue. If she didn’t name the person clearly, it’s not fair to allow people speculate and destroy someone’s reputation.

    • B!

      September 7, 2013 at 1:42 am

      Right. Um… that right there, makes no sense. AT ALL.

      First of all… contradiction. Go down low.

      How exactly do you “raise awareness” that a person who is apparently revered as an outstanding, morally upright journalist is a pervert if at the same time you’re choosing not to let people know who he is? How to you encourage potential victims to speak out if you at the same time stifle those who CHOOSE to speak? By hiding his name you are enabling him because guess what he will do it AGAIN and he will never be caught and we will wonder why rapists are never brought to justice and THIS IS WHY. So pick a side, BN. Who are you REALLY rooting for?
      All women are asking for is to know the identity of the sexual predator before he/she attacks them in one way or the other. Is that really too much to ask? I figure that his name is Yele Sowore of the Sahara Reporters. Am I right ?
      And also, I understand that Chika Oduah either chose not to publish his name or was warned not to out him for fear of legal repercussions but you even removed the guesses made in the comment section? COME ON!!!

      P.S : Bella Naija, If you remove his name, I’ll know for sure that I’m right.

    • oliver okoye

      January 18, 2019 at 9:29 pm

      Wow. Is this Sowore of Sahara reporters. I am shocked.

  35. truth

    August 6, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Well i know exactly who she is talking about. He is a guy that people praise for exposing coruption in Nigeria. Shame on him. I remember Chika from her famous interview with Dbanj. Even though she has told her story, what next? Do we ignore? Do we just express our thoughts in the comment section on BN?

  36. shaun

    August 6, 2013 at 11:56 am

    story story @bellanaija. you are a platform for expression. if the writer deems it fit to identify the individual, you have no right to restrict same as she boldly indicated it and is ready to face the consequence if the accused claims it is false

  37. Sir Farouk

    August 6, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    So on reading this post, I thought this place in New York could most likely be {Name Removed}. Great piece Chika, I believe it takes a lot of courage to come out and tell your story. Sometimes it is the revolutionary types who neglect women the most and more often than not use their popularity from being known activists to attract women and are surprised when some women dont dote over them.

    Women are not yet fully treated equally in our society, it might be indoctrination or something but the fight for women’s rights is mostly relegated and although some changes are occuring, they are occuring slowly. It is a mindset thing often aided by cultural oppression of women.

  38. Sir Farouk

    August 6, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    Great piece Chika, I believe it takes a lot of courage to come out and tell your story. Sometimes it is the revolutionary types who neglect women the most and more often than not use their popularity from being known activists to attract women and are surprised when some women dont dote over them.

    Women are not yet fully treated equally in our society, it might be indoctrination or something but the fight for women’s rights is mostly relegated and although some changes are occuring, they are occuring slowly. It is a mindset thing often aided by cultural oppression of women.

  39. nwanyi na aga aga

    August 6, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    Bellanaija if you dont have the balls to publish the names of the culprit pls stop posting such hypocritical nonsense. I didnt want to comment on this section but when i saw bellanaija removing names i became irked. Chika too has left the name of the culprit out. How then do we shame such people? how then do we fight against injustice against women if we keep protecting the men that perpetuate it? Anyway na una sabi. I have always said it. Nigeria is full of hypocrisy. Name and shame the he goat to avoid assumptions and speculations that might be wrong. Bella if you like post if you like dont post. All I know is that at least one person in your team has read that for you people to post this and be enacting names written by people with registered email id which u re not liable for is hypocrisy.

  40. Mogul

    August 6, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    Chika, First, you can write. Second, I think you used to write for a certain offshore rag that specialises, like you said, in preaching revolution (root up the nation as grass, burn up everything and start afresh in the charred wasteland). If it’s any consolation, I think those financial exiles speak of things they are too afraid to dare on the off chance that some existential nihilist with means and nil sense will commit the mass arson on their behalf. Third, you did all sexually-harrased women everywhere a serious disservice when you neither named nor shamed this hypocrite. I mean, the US has developed a firm stance against this sort of crime and you could have sued his forked-tongue off exactly where it happen. And done the entire land a favour. O well, half-bread is better than none. The quasi-exposure is sure to snowball. But next time we are told to report ourselves, we’ll know just what to say to that, won’t we?

  41. 'Mide

    August 7, 2013 at 6:34 am

    Btw, here is a link to your interview of Dbanj. youtube.com/watch?v=rhPoa5NoCTM . I remember you almost ruined his career. He was lucky his Oliver Twist became so big that your controversial interview wasn’t enough to put his lights out. Not sure what you are on about in this piece, but I hope the guy in this piece comes out and defends himself.

  42. Lizzie

    August 7, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    Very funny Mide, you are not sure what she’s on about right? Reading and comprehending is suddenly above you. The guilty are always offended, check yourself Biko… The guy’s lies will be him defending himself to you abi? You go born girl and what goes around definitely comes around.

    • 'Mide

      August 7, 2013 at 8:30 pm

      Lizzie, I don’t agree with you o! The person insinuated in this piece we know and his works speaks for itself, but Chika’s work is yet to be known and is at a stage where she needs to build credibility. The only work of her that know is that where she interviewed D’banj in a way that showed she lacked an understanding of the structure of Naija’s music industry and the ethical necklace she wanted to impose on him did not fit his style and the message of his music that was not about social activism. It is the same pattern I see in this piece. The strength of her piece is premised on the girl community standing up and fighting sexual harassment. There has not been any rigorous thinking involved in the piece. Her piece is not a serious piece. Instead she perfumed it with the scent of food, sentiment and naivety that would colour the objectivity of the reader. In her piece, she dials into the experience of others that have a serious case. Nevertheless, rape was not commuted. The guy never forced himself on her since she had the last say in the matter and he respected her wish. You could say he was crude, I would agree. You could say he was stupid, I would agree. The truth of the matter is no one is a saint in cravings for the opposite sex. The code that must not be broken is forcing yourself on others and respecting their right to consent. It is always the case that one person must lead the initiative in any relationship that leads to friendship or sex. How the other person interprets it would determine whether it was smooth or crude. In summary, what I read here is that she rebuffed a friendly interest, not a sexual interest. I read about kiss, waist, and pulling to the chest. Possibly the guy was interested in her, but she was not interested. Let Chika earn her stripes in the world of activism instead of using a southern charm and its food illustration to confuse wannabe mass of women that need to be focused on ridding the society of corrupt politicians and instituting good governance. She appears misguided.

    • slice

      August 9, 2013 at 3:04 pm

      according to her write up, this is what the Naija activist did: “After I voiced my opposition to his foul groping and leering sexual advances on me, he told me “women’s rights are not human rights.” how is groping an acceptable way of making your intentions known. in normal discourse, you ask the person out on a date and she says yes or no. On that you have a point. But groping which essentially means grabbing her body parts (like breasts or butt) without any prior indication that she’s ok with it, now that completely crosses every line of decency.

      You can’t say I groped her and then when she said don’t do it anymore, I didn’t do it anymore so no harm done. NO NO NO. that’s not the kind of thing you get a pass for doing once.

      That is sexual harassment. you don’t have to be raped for it to be sexual harassment. Inappropriate touching of a coworker is sexual harassment.

    • slice

      August 9, 2013 at 3:07 pm

      also kissing, pulling her to his waist is inappropriate too. you don’t kiss a coworker, especially a subordinate, without prior consent. that in itself is sexual harassmen

  43. Lizzie

    August 7, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    It is who y’all think it is…. Chika was descriptive enough. See the annoying individual’s face Kwanu. Am like so mad right now. So he gets funding to run a rubbish organization. *long hiss*

  44. Mckay

    August 7, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    @’Mide, it is very clear you either have a grudge against Chika or you are just an insensitive person! Or maybe the guy is your brother?cousin or someone you are so close to and as such you can’t appreciate what she is passing across. Its not about her or her interview with D’banj ( who by the way made his name before Oliver twist was released) its about WOMEN!!!

    • 'Mide

      August 7, 2013 at 10:42 pm

      I used D’banj’s interview as an incident to evaluate her and it sheds light on her person and her ability to cue in on a culture, or even understand the larger implication of an issue. That experience created some doubt in taking her accusation seriously. She is afterall an African American woman of Nigerian parentage who does not understand the subtleness of Naija culture so well. This is hardly about women against men There are all sorts of unstable women out who because of lack of social skills and psychological problems would ruin lives of well meaning guys.This is my opinion and that shows how sensitive I can when people question other’s credibility.

    • Tunmi

      August 8, 2013 at 1:57 am

      take several seats!

    • PhallicPhilc

      August 24, 2013 at 2:53 pm

      Ogbeni “Mide, you have said exactly nothing. The incident happened in the US within a US based organization to a (likely) US citizen. How is that in anyway about naija culture and the inane subtleties you are on about. Abeg park well jor.

      Even for Naija, when a Man grabs you and tries to kiss you, we all know exactly what that means- and it is not friendly, it is entirely sexual. Naija wey if two friends of opposite sex who have no sexual intent at all, hold hands, na go be be dat with everyone already taking a leap in their imagination; you con dey talk your kind unrealistic ish.

      In case you don’t know, sexual harrassment has to occur only once for it to be criminal and the harasser shamed. And it doesn’t matter if its a CEO attacking a janitor, na same harassment e be. So all those ‘go earn your stripes’ BS you dey spew on here no be am at all
      That a CEO

    • rocksteady

      September 14, 2013 at 2:21 am

      Mide, what exactly do you mean by the writer bein irresponsible?

  45. Tunmi

    August 8, 2013 at 2:06 am

    Really, BN is censoring things now….off to nairaland, twitter and the rest of social media then.

  46. Nene Leakes

    August 8, 2013 at 4:43 am

    First and foremost this ‘Mide is the guy chika oduah is talking about. He has come on BellaNaija to create holes in her story. ‘Mide God is watching you. You will born girls abi…don’t worry. Karma is coming for you.
    Secondly, since BellaNaija has decided to hide this guy’s name, I did a little bit of google search based on reading some comments here. For those still wondering who it is:Google chika oduah and Sahara reporters. Please if you have sense identify the company name and google the founder. Thatz all.
    Thirdly, I have been sexually harassed as well. I was tapped on the bum by a Zenith bank marketer. I faced the dude and told him I didn’t like it and he should never do it again. He then proceeded to put his hands into my trousers (front area). I grabbed his hands all the while spitting vile at him. My immediate boss quickly rushed out of his office to calm things down and told the guy to apologise to me. He did. Towards the close of business, the ballsy marketer came back to meet me, looked me dead in the eye and said ‘ shebi you’re coming back here, I will show you pepper’…..Can I just add that I was a corper at that time about rounding up my NYSC. At that moment I knew I was never returning to that branch even if they posted me there. I was posted there eventually. Long story short, I turned down the job and was jobless for a month or so before I got another job.
    I regret not reporting to my female boss who I am certain would have dealt severely with this marketer. But GOD knows best.

    • tunmi

      August 8, 2013 at 2:12 pm

      stop leaving matters to God, that is why these people keep getting away with it. The same God gave you strength to face him

  47. Sara

    August 8, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    I am not surprised. Now all the crappy things I have heard about him makes sense.

  48. yoyo

    August 8, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    Dear Chika. Thanks for sharing this with us however if you are not going to write the name of the person and organisation then you my friend are part of the problem. Why are you protecting him? whats the point of this piece if you are being protective? i dont get it. So all women should stand up and fight against sexual harassers with no name? i say this because you are telling women its okay to talk about being harassed but its not okay to mention names. My dear the foundation of this battle is a weird one…

    And bella naija..i understand she didnt mention names but you shouldnt delete peoples comments if they guess who it is from her descriptions. this is supposed to be a platform..Use it for positive things …whats the point of posting this if you are going to delete names? is it for hits? or money? if so then dear bella, you also are part of the problem….if you dont post my comment it says a lot.

    • slice

      August 9, 2013 at 6:45 pm

      A vicitm is allowed ttell her story any way she pleases. Let’s not brow beat or shame the girl into doing what we think we would have done in a similar situation. Afterall without risking a potential lawsuit for slander, she has essentially obtained her vindication by making it clear she’s talking about mr…..lol

  49. 'Mide

    August 9, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    @Slice,

    Description of the boss : “A Nigerian immigrant in his early 40s, the boss had a hip rugged fashion aesthetic, quintessentially urban: distressed brown jackets and boots, a hefty brown backpack. He was the rebel with a cause, a card-carrying activist Encrusted in the syrupy coos of his admirers, he has fans on both sides of the Atlantic. He was charisma defined.”

    Description of the activist : ” one of these young self-titled human rights activist types. He was among those arrested for protesting during the 2012 Occupy Nigeria rallies. This guy picks and chooses his causes and apparently the advancement of women is not one of them. In his mind, women’s rights are not important enough.”

    Obviously, she narrated and described the actions of two different people. I ‘m not sure how you came to a different interpretation. I am not sure why she would she need a further description and repetition of someone she already clued us in one his aesthetics and his activism a second time and with a different context. I suspect you have things mixed up.

    • slice

      August 10, 2013 at 12:06 am

      Ok seeing as u and I are saying the same thing, I’m not sure how to respond. You just said her description makes it quite clear to whom she’s referring. I sd the same thing too. She doesn’t even need to mention his name bc it seems people got the name from the decription of the activist. People obviously don’t seem to care about the boss

    • 'Mide

      August 10, 2013 at 7:19 pm

      I hear you. And thank you for a civil conversation.

      I can only say parents should raise kids as citizens who understand and acknowledge other people’s individual rights as a principle. It does not matter whether they are other’s bosses, neither does it matter that the others are vulnerable, whatever, whether they are weaker mentally, physically or psychologically. For me, it is more of an encompassing principle that overlays and would guide against sexual harassment.

      That said, it is unkind to write an article to damage someone’s reputation when you know insinuations can be read into your piece that would impair another’s goodwill. If you must be clear, be clear and straightforward. No be to engage in corner-corner accusation wey no get head or tail. Anyone that does that is just be irresponsible.

    • Lizzie

      August 14, 2013 at 10:13 am

      Slice those were two different scenarios. She described what the boss did to her and then wrote about some other activist whom she met who believes that women’s right is not human right, like women aren’t human. As for Mide, am sorry I do not get what you are on about.

    • Lizzie

      August 14, 2013 at 10:18 am

      And that was the one (said activist who was arrested) that groped and leered at her. Boss tried to kiss, she said no and was eventually frustrated out of the job.

  50. LO

    August 20, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    How do we intend to stop this menace if we refuse to mention the names of this maniacs. I believe it’s those who have been through this ordeal that needs protection and not the perpetrators.

  51. jennifer

    August 28, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    hi chika, all i can say is God will surely give you the right place in the sun. your ex-boss will definitely reap his wild oats.

  52. oola

    December 26, 2013 at 12:22 am

    Hint: Sahara Reporters

  53. Manny

    July 22, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    I think we all know by now that CHika is talking about Sowore of Sahara Reporters. I have been a part of the ‘freedom fighters’ and less that 5% are sincere. The sincere ones respect women. Unfortunately, they cannot take us all under their wings. I quit the whole chase for a better society through advocacy and opted for the corporate environment. I change the world in other ways. I will not anymore move with men who have a form of goodness but sleep in the shadows of evil.

  54. Millie

    August 25, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    Contractor, freelancer, Sahara Reporters’ favorite words

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Get The Pan-Atlantic Advantage

Star Features

Advertisement
css.php