Contributed by Solange Chin
Due to lack of finances, Fanny’s attempts to work in order to fund her university education turned out to be a traumatic experience that killed her trust in men.
Fanny began facing real life problems when she went job huntingin order to pay her university tuition. Her guardian made it clear to her that he could no longer sponsor her because he believed that an Advance Levelcertificate was just enough for a woman. The certificate was enough to help her get an average job while waiting for a decent suitor to marry her. Fanny aspired for more in life than just some mediocre job and marriage, she knew that the only way she could attain her dreams was to get a university education.
Luckily for her, she found a job as a sales girl in a small electronic company and was promised a base salary of40,000 frs CFA plus commission based on the number of phones sold. She was very excited and couldn’t wait to start work. On her first day, she arrived early, eager to go to work but there was a hitch. Every salesperson was supposed to have a kiosk at their designated selling point and none were available. Their boss assured them that the kiosks would be ready within three days. He urged them to take their merchandise around the city in the meantime. This is how Fanny found herself roaming the entire city of Douala selling phones.
A few weeks later, Fanny and her colleagues complained to the boss about the stressful and risky nature of the job. This was because no mention was made about the kiosks again since the day they accepted to be phone hawkers. As women they were exposed to robbery and rape. They were shocked when their boss categorically stated that “those who are not interested can leave so that I can employ others who won’t complain about hawking”. Some of the girls quitted but not Fanny because she had no choice she needed the finances. Fanny’s boss was rich and handsome and he took advantage of his attractiveness to sleep with his workers and most of them were actually happy about it because of the favours he bestowed on them. But when he made advances toward Fanny she turned him down and he was furious.
One sunny afternoon after Fanny had worked for a period of three weeks, she received a call from her boss while at a quarter in Douala called Bonanjo struggling to sell.“Allo Fanny I have a friend who needs three phones, if you still have phones just put them in your bag and meet me at “Fin Barrier ESSEC, once you get there just give me a call” he said.
She was very happy because she had sold four phones that day and was left with justthree; she was looking forward to that big commission at the end of the month. She immediately put the unsold phones in her bag and hailed a taxi for the rendezvous point.
Once there, Fanny was instructed by her boss to come to the end of the street and stop at an uncompleted storeybuilding where he was waiting for her. When Fanny got there, he urged her to get into a room to collect her money. She got in, not smelling anything fishy, it was her boss. He locked the door behind him and asked her not to make any noise else he was going to hurt her. Fanny shivered with fear as he calmly told her how sleeping with him will change her life.
“I have noticed that you are a very hard working girl and so far you are the best sales girl in the house, just accept me and I will give you these three phones as a gift and any other thing you desire”. He said trying to grope her.
Fanny begged him with tears in her eyes that she was not interested in any of his offers and that she just wanted to leave the room. Fortunately for her, one of her co-workerswas in the area and had seen her enter the room with their boss. Out of curiosity he came by and heard Fanny crying.He tried the door but it was locked;he knocked but no one opened but he could hear a scuffle. Fanny’s continuous scream for help propelled him to smash the lock. The scenario that confronted him was thus; his boss was trying to rip off Fanny’s pants as she struggled with him.
He shovedthe pig off her and pushed him against the wall. Their boss started pleading with the guy to release him and keep the matter private. He offered him 20000 frs CFA to buy his silence. Though hethreatened totake Fanny’s life if she should tell anybody about the incidence, Fanny was traumatised and just wanted to leave the place.Herco-worker helped her outside and gother into a taxi advising her to go straight home. Fanny told him she couldn’t take the money and phones home for fear the boss would fire her. Yet he reassured her that he won’t allow that to happen.The next day, as traumatised as she was, Fanny still went to work since it was just few days left to the end of the month when she would collect her salary.
On the pay day, Fanny was expecting to receive 50.000frs in commission. She was shocked when her boss handed her 20.000frs as though he was doing her a great favour. She collected the money with tears in her eyes; the pain of the injustice was too much to bear. She could not complain or take him anywhere because he was a powerful man who will trump up charges against her. She left and never went near that hellish place ever again.
Two months later, the business shut down and nobody knew why, though gossip had it that the man was jailed for fraudulent practices.
The question is- was Fanny to blame for respecting her boss?If it were you what would you have done if you were in Fanny’sshoes?
Say no to sexual harassment.
Solange Chin is an aspiring Cameroonian writer with a passion for fashion. She believes more laws have to be put in place to protect young African women from sexual harassment in the workplace.