We discuss the origins and the future of Slutwalk Lagos with founder, Deena Ade
On Sunday 17 December, Lagos held it's very first Slutwalk. The Slutwalk began in Toronto, in response to police comments regarding a woman's attire after she reported a rape. Since then, Slutwalk has taken on a life of its own and its popularity boosted, even if the messaged became slightly misconstrued, by celebrity and pop culture icon, Amber Rose.
Now, Lagos has joined the ranks of many cities choosing to protest the treatment of women and the was we treat sexual violence against women. Whilst many did not understand the need of having something like this in Lagos, we sat down with organiser Deena Ade to talk us through her motivations for organising Slutwalk and why she believes, we more than most, need to be more introspective of how women are treated in our society.
In light of the revelation of over 20 count of molestation against women at Phyno's Phynofest in Enegy, the conversation is more pertinent than ever. Women, their rights and their bodies need to be defended and protected.
Hello Deena, thank you for speaking with us today. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Deena Ade, I'm a vocalist, musician and activist. I've been making music for about four years now. I guess I'd describe myself as a free spirit. I love animals, in particular, dogs and monkeys. I spent half on my life in London and the other half in Ibadan.
When was the first time you heard of Slutwalk as a movement, and what was going on in your life that made you want to get involved?
The first time I heard about SlutWalk was when Amber Rose organised her first one. I was drawn by the name, so I googled it. I felt the name was very empowering. Almost like reverse psychology. "Ok I'm a slut, it's my body, you have NO RIGHT, now what?". I don't recall where I was mentally, but I know I began coming across other Slut Walk's.. women with their babies on their chest. Fighting for one cause, RAPE. Absolutely beautiful. I had to be a part of that.
What made you think we needed to bring the Slutwalk movement to Lagos?
All you have to do is pick up a newspaper or listen to the radio, watch a movie. Rape is an epidemic and it's embedded in our culture. However we as a people hate to talk about sex and despise anyone that alleges rape. MIRABEL is a rape centre in Lagos and 87% of their victims are under the age of 18. They have seen over 2000 victims in under four years. There's every reason to do slut walk. People need to be provoked into action.
What were people’s initial reactions when you announced plans to hold a Slutwalk?
Many people told me not to do it or rename it. I received a lot of hate. Threats of sexual violence. People actually told me they wanted me to be attacked. I have also been accused of trivialising the problem. I really don't worry as long as I have explained what my mission is and I get a dialogue going amongst those that want to understand. It is not fashion parade. It is a statement. My clothes should never be a reason a rapist is excused.
Is the message of Slutwalk only for women? Can men get involved in it and if so, in what way?
No, it is for everybody. Men are also victims of rape
in Nigeria, but its glossed over. Also men have been the most supportive of the movement. You get involved by wanting to know more, educating yourself, sharing stories, walking with us.
What are your thoughts on rape culture in Nigeria?
It is prevalent and prevailing. There is absolutely no fear of the law, because the law does not protect the victims. Most especially the law does not protect women. I believe if perpetrators are treated as thieves are treated there will be a drastic reduction in the amount of rapes.
What steps can we take to unlearn damaging behaviour that’s become a part of rape culture including slut-shaming and policing women on what they should wear?
There has to be a complete shift in how women see themselves and how men view women. Women were not created to simply please men and stroke their egos. Men also need understand this. You have no rights to my body unless I say so.
What did you hope to achieve with this Slutwalk?
I wanted to create dialogue. I wanted us to discuss something that most find uncomfortable or believe to be unworthy of attention. Only then can we move forward. 2 out of 3 females in Nigeria will be sexually assaulted in their life time. I fear having daughters in this world because they are not safe, and I want to help change this.
What’s next for you and for the movement?
I will continue with my music and campaign in any way I can. Whether it be through art or activism. There will another SlutWalk next year. Which will probably include more topics, for example child prostitution and domestic violence.
I will definitely make the SlutWalk an annual event.
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