NIGERIAN LIVES: 4 Nigerian Women on Stalking and Harassment With Male Service Providers

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The lack of safety and safe spaces for women is a rampant problem  common to many industries and communities in Nigeria. A systemic problem, it is hinged on the premise of inequality with  little to no repercussions for offenders. Every other day, there are complaints  about the lack of professionalism in the Nigerian service industry. From tales of rude support staff to uncouth dispatch riders and cab drivers, the stories are never-ending.


However, none of these experiences are comparable to what women experience at the hands of male service providers in Nigeria. Women’s experiences are often more heightened than men’s because they are at greater risk of being harassed, stalked, and abused in their daily interactions. According to the World Health Organization, one in three women globally experience  violence and harassment in their lifetime. And in a third-world country like Nigeria, where institutions still heavily revolve around men, the grim tales are endless. In this piece, we spoke to four Nigerian women about their experience with stalking and harassment from male service providers.


Ada, 21


I can’t even begin to unpack what it’s like with Nigerian male service providers. Sometimes, it’s an ego thing; other times, it’s just entitlement to your space as a woman. I took a ride from one of the popular ride-hailing apps one evening, and the driver first yelled at me for attempting to sit at the “owner’s corner.” It was late, and I was desperate, so I sat beside him. This man berated me for about twenty minutes, expressing very derogatory views about “women like me.” I replied that it was enough, seeing as I already sat beside him, so there was no need for the drama. The next thing, he became upset and threatened to end the trip and drop me in the middle of nowhere.


I thought he was joking, but this man wasn’t. So I started to beg him. I felt very unsafe and vulnerable at that moment. He kept gloating and talking about how he would still humble me and teach me a lesson. I thought that was the end of it, but he continued to send me messages, cursing and calling me unprintable names for days. At first, I wasn’t bothered, but I became crazily scared because he knew my address. I tried to report him on the ride-hailing app and follow up with a formal complaint, but they insisted that drivers are third-party contractors and not direct employees, and they aren’t liable for their behavior. How convenient. 


Tomi, 27


I had  never really had any bad experience with any male service provider until last month. In fact, I used to think I had figured out how to navigate interactions with them. I run a small business, and I’m always receiving packages with items I stock from China.

Most times, I put the landmark closest to my house as my address, and I meet up with the riders at the spot for security reasons. But the last order I made, I made the mistake of giving the rider my address, and I regret it heavily.


He got to my house and tried to flirt, and I dismissed him. Only for him to withhold my package until I agreed to reply to his texts and calls because he liked me. He started texting and calling, and I was doing a good job of ignoring him. He switched numbers and called one morning, going off about how proud I was, and I didn’t want to give him a chance because of his job. I thought this was the end until he started threatening me and reminding me that he knew my address. I was very terrified that this stranger could come back to harm me, and this made me paranoid for days.  


I know the reason a lot of these guys act inappropriately is because they know there’ll be no consequences. I didn’t even bother reporting him because I knew nothing would be done.


Dee, 22


I’ve had bad experiences with many male service providers. The most memorable one was on my way back from school to my house. During the ride, the driver was very conversational, and even though I’d rather not engage him, I was still polite. He started speaking about my breakouts, which made me self-conscious and uncomfortable, but this guy kept going. He then asked if I had a boyfriend, suggesting that I could use his “seed” for my skin concerns. I was in shock, and I was still trying to process his statement, so I told him I didn’t understand and asked him to explain. He then says that he was in fact speaking about semen and even suggested giving me his. I was mortified. I told him to end the trip on the spot and reported him on the app.


Maryam, 31


I’m very cheerful and easy-going, and Nigerian men often misinterpret that as a green light. They never consider their positions, jobs, or whatever is at stake for them. Last year, I had a short staycation at a hotel in Lagos. I was new in the city, so I made small talk with the receptionist about what exciting activities I could try out. To be honest, I was friendly with everyone else there, as I was going to be there for about a week. On my third night there, he came into my room in the guise of changing the remote for the TV and tried to kiss me. I was stunned. I shunned him immediately and asked him to excuse me, but I was so scared to sleep that night. Even after guarding the door with a sofa, I still felt unsafe. I kept turning and turning till it was 6a.m. The next morning, I just checked out, even though I had paid for one week. I just couldn’t risk it.