Dedication: My mum, Mrs Osowobi.
The narrative of a woman’s value being in her vagina, ability to do homely chores and care to the family is one that has lingered for a long time. As a girl-child, I believed this and was groomed to be womanly, to keep my modesty, to view marriage and family as the hallmark. My view about intrapersonal relationship was narrow and this impacted my self-esteem and how I comported myself with the opposite sex. It was difficult to see myself outside the light of what society expected me to be.
For someone who needed to keep her pride and worth, it was a devastating experience to be raped. It was more than rape. I questioned my womanhood and purpose, believing society that I am a damaged good with no value. Living in a society where victims of rape were shamed to silence for the fear of being stigamtized and most unfortunately, the belief that “no man would want to marry a damaged good.” I began to see how I failed to keep my value and absorb the rapist of the responsibility of shame.
Everything changed the moment I gained courage to inform my mother. I got a re-orientation that my value as a woman is in my voice – in my ability to inspire, impact and innovate. To inspire other young women to see their strength and capacity, use their stories and voices, and not be limited by gender-roles. To accept our stories and journey in life and be unapologetic about it.
She made me realise it is okay not to be conformed to society’s standards. It is okay to be a rape survivor and not bear the shame – afterall, someone committed the crime, not me. Gradually, I began to see that my mother was inspiring me to live and impact through my story.
Today, I am not only owning my story, I am helping other young girls with the process of self-realisation, breaking the silence and understanding the power of their story and setting their own standards and achievements. Through my organization – Stand to End Rape Initiative, I am orientating girls on their sexual reproductive health and rights and working to end gender-based violence.