THERE ARE NO OTHER GIRLS
They are family, friends, friends turned family, acquaintances. How much of knowing someone is finding out they take an interest in exploiting your dignity?
Some of them smile nice, help you when you need them, one of them is supposed to be your soul mate. They have warned you never to stay out late, to avoid clubs and eat in. They care for you. Look out for you. Punched the security guard who tried to grab your butt. Invited you over for dinner and took you home safe. These people, you love and trust.
You spend time worrying about the length of your slit, trying to dim your red lipstick with nudes. You wear a turtleneck so that unfamiliar men do not bury their heads in your chest.
You take calculated steps to ensure that the sway of your hips does not entice a man into expressing the full extent of his lust on you. These things must be done for fear of the unknown since you are the modest one, the one who is not like other girls. You are supposed to be protected but you will soon know that sometimes danger is as familiar as family.
That day was memorable. Pius was the best man in the world. He tickled your fancy and planted kisses on the cape of your neck. His fingers did wonders to the atlas of your inner desires. This is why you open up to him.
Your engagement night was beautiful, all you wanted to do was talk and cuddle but his hands kept moving in directions your body twinged at. You placed his hands on his lap, told him this night was not for that. This man, your forever. The one you would spend the rest of your life with pressed you down, said he wanted to take you on an orgasmic journey. You refused. You ungrateful woman. He had a firm grip on you, how quickly pleasure shapeshifts into pressure. It didn't matter that you struggled. He devoured you like he was hungry. It didn't matter that you cried, he must have thought they were tears of joy because he didn't stop riding.
He was confused at your demeanor, after all, there was nothing you had that he hadn't seen. He left immediately because according to him your mood swings had become irritating. How do you explain this to the world? It would not ring true that a man you've known for years who just gave you this ring could take advantage of you.
The police said you should be proud of this invasion. "You sure say you no enjoy am, na your future husband be that o." Their laughter echoed in your soul. It is true you are not like other girls.
Halima is a girl like you. Raped. yet fully clothed in a hijab. It must be the number of hair on her brows or perhaps the bridge of her nose that awoke his manhood. What about Baby sunshine with eyes glittering like the stars and an enchanting toothless smile. She was four months old when her innocence was stolen from her. It must be the scented wipes and baby products used on her that drew her uncle Ade's erection into her. She is not like other girls.
Nana was ninety-four when thieves broke into her apartment. She had a faded wrapper hung loosely around her waist. They took and abused all her valuables including the one in between her legs, maybe her wrinkles summoned them.
You tell Ada that Pius raped you and she smiles. It's amazing how one story can bring others from hiding. She was raped by invitation, set up dinner for her best friend olu. but apparently, Jollof and Dessert were not enough. He had to taste her to ensure proper digestion and satisfaction. Ada was not like other girls.
The pastor says that he saw a vision of you, that you always had bad luck with men. You will fast and pray for 21 days. The last day you will both seek the face of God together, as he prayed, you knew your problems would be over. He said you will soon feel the anointing. You did not know this feeling involved the ceremony of letting your breasts fall as he unhooked your bra from behind. That the cleansing meant you had to rob the pastor's genitals to connect to grace.
Other girls like Chude who walk around almost unclad are no safer than you. They are still helpless at the disposal of starving men. A woman is not supposed to dress in a way that is convenient for a man's lack of self-control. But who are you to speak when society has already spoken.
You are simply not like other girls because there are no other girls. There are simply girls who grow into women who come to terms with the fact that they are endangered species. Women who learn that the predator will hunt them regardless, it doesn't matter if they are in their habitat or if they choose to live in the wild, they will always be hunted. And a huge part of society has taken a stand, it is easier to blame the prey and excuse the predator.
Written by Roseline Mgbo Anya Okorie