Contributed by: Emiliene Alemkeng
About a year ago, I witnessed a case wherein a young man was well beaten for calling his friend a Woman in the presence of other Men. The friend was bitter and furious because he was referred to as a WOMAN. The question is “What does it mean to be a woman? And is it a slur to refer to a man as such?
However, this is the story of a young girl who demonstrates to a bike rider that being a woman is not a defect.
One Friday evening, a girl called Precious; a resident of Douala booked a bike from the Logpom neighbourhood to Rond Point Deido. They agreed to a fare of 300frs to the satisfaction of both parties. A few minutes later, she suggested she will increase the fare to 500frs if the bike rider was willing to take her right up to Bonaberi, which is about a kilometer from the original location. The bike rider accepted the new destination as well as the additional fare and still all was well.
The city of Douala is known for its temperamental weather and it was no surprise to both rider and passenger when it started raining suddenly. The fact that the bike was equipped with an umbrella and as usual during the wet season their journey went on uninterrupted. The rain seemed to have put some romantic notions into the bike rider’s head because he started making sexual advances towards Precious. She turned him down firmly and told him that she already had a boyfriend. The bike rider, who had introduced himself as Max, was disappointed and furious. He didn’t like to be rejected and threatened to throw her in the rain if Precious didn’t change her mind. This amazed the young lady who had been very polite even when he was pressing his unwanted advances.
Upon arrival at Rond Point, he decided to stop at an isolated location where Precious will face difficulties getting another bike as a means of revenge; he was now disinclined to continue the journey to Bonaberi as was the initial agreement. He had also degenerated into name calling and questioned why she, an ordinary woman would turn him down as though he were not a man. Precious read his motive and refused to be bullied. Given the fact that it was raining cats and dogs adding salt to the injury, Precious decided that she was not going to be intimidated. She gave him an ultimatum; he could take her to Bonaberi and collect his fare or drop her at the midpoint and go away with nothing. This incensed him even more and he told her that a woman could never dictate to him. Precious was not daunted and told him “you are just a man and you don’t have two heads and if I go away with your money, there is nothing you can do”.
To emphasize her point, she alighted from the bike and started walking away in the rain. Her target was a building not too far from the road where other people were taking shelter from the downfall. She was nearly there when Max the bike rider came from behind and dragged her into the mud by the hair and continued to beat the hell out of her. Precious was not about to relent despite the pain that was being inflicted upon her under the torrential rain.
As the drama unfolds, the bystanders watched and got entertained, this was part of the street theatre that the city of Douala was known for. Nobody thought it was their duty to end the scuffle. Precious struggled and reached the building and amidst the jeers and boos of the bystanders she was not fazed. When the bike rider was tired of hitting her she addressed him thus;
“You hit me because I am a woman, if it was your fellow man, you won’t have tried that. Because I reject your sexual advances you act as if you own me?” turning to the interactive audience she addressed them “It is high time we get treated as human beings and not as ‘woman beings’ and if we don’t insist on our rights, men will dominate and denigrate us for ever”.
Before she finished, the women in the crowd as well as some men fell on the Bike rider and drove him away with insults and threats of physical injury. Thankfully it had stopped raining and though Precious was very muddy, she stood up and walked away with her dignity intact.
Women are people too and have rights just like you; the fact that one rejects your sexual advances does not give you a right to degenerate into violence. No to violence against women; no to sexual harassment!!
Emiliene Alemkeng is a Cameroonian actress and aspiring writer with strong opinions about equality and social justice. She has acted in movies like The Grace and The Change.