Life is tough being a single lady in Nigeria. I thought life was in stages and being single ought to be a blessing when one discovers her purpose, grow and experience life, shocking that the Nigerian society has made it a living hell for us. Ranging from churches sowing special seeds, praying and fasting for 21 days for husbands to come, binding and loosing who knows what?
Hundreds of millions of Nigerians believe that marriage is a fundamental measure of responsibility, respectability and decency, particularly for women. Due to this social expectation,age of 25 is when the heat is turned on, our clock automatically starts ticking and failure to navigate this phase means get ready to be subjected to a wide range of indignities and discrimination. Ranging from, Sexual exploitation and workplace harassment from male bosses, colleagues and even junior staff who often feel empowered to verbally, physically, emotionally abuse single female staff); demands for sex in exchange for jobs, grades or positions that women are in many instances already qualified for.
Most jobs such as receptionist, personal assistants, secretaries, marketing, as permanently be reserved for single ladies believing they can go all out meeting their ridiculously set targets. Street harassment (cat-calling and unsolicited touching); sexist verbal abuse and the list is endless. Cases have been reported where well to do single ladies are told to come with a man (boyfriend, fiancé, father, brother) by landlords before given house to rent. Tell me what does marital status have to do with getting a place to live or a yard stick for measuring decency? In the eye of the public single ladies are labelled prostitutes and are seen to be irresponsible, besides most Nigerians are still of the opinion that young people, particularly young women, ought to live with their parents until they are married, and cannot comprehend female economic and social independence, and even when they do it cannot be through respectable methods. This an unfortunate manifestation of the hostility that Nigeria shows its women in general.
Even the married women are not helping matters. Once your friend gets married, she immediately dumps you like an old piece of rag, believing you are no longer on the same level, or you would snatch her husband, worse of all, you are a bad influence, forgetting you have been friends since secondary school, you even bought her Aseobi for 30,000 naira, paid flight ticket to attend her wedding, even paid for your feeding and accommodation. Am still in shock on how I was abandoned like a leper by my best friend straight from the reception venue.
How can I forget to talk about how immensely frustrating it is to go home during festive period (Christmas and Salah). We are afraid and ashamed to go home; because most people have their engagements, weddings, naming ceremonies during this period. Everyone would be hoping you bring him home and if you don’t get ready for sermons from parents, relatives and to be turned to a prayer point every morning. There is no place we go without facing persistent discrimination thus we are made to isolate ourselves to maintain our sanity.
Out of desperation most ladies, tend to marry anyone who comes along and what do you expect from such union if not frustration which ends in divorce. We have fallen victims to fake pastors and prophets, romance scammers who their full-time job is to take advantage on single ladies.
It’s about time that we recognize the systemic nature of the issues and address them and unless we address them, noting that these devilish social norms, many of which are informed by religious fundamentalisms, reinforced cultural expectations and state failures.
This country is doomed to sink like the ill-fated Titanic if this form of discrimination is not addressed .