“Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign, total fabrication. The events never happened. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over,” US presidential candidate, Donald Trump said on Saturday, October 22 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.”
Since an infamous tape of Trump claiming he can “grab women by the pussy” and do whatever he wants with them emerged two weeks ago, several women have come forward to say the 70-year-old presidential candidate has sexually harassed or assaulted them. It’s these accusers Trump has threatened to sue, describing them as cheap publicity seekers and pawns in the Democrats’ ploy to destroy his campaign.
It’s not surprising that Trump has denied every allegation of sexual misconduct laid against him. It is also not surprising that he has threatened to sue these women; he made the same threat when The New York Times published an article featuring two women that accused him of touching them inappropriately but failed to follow through. It is perhaps a tactic to scare other women from coming forward with further allegations against him.
Notwithstanding, Trump’s case of sexual misconduct, his denial, and threat to take his accusers to court is akin to the sex scandal that rocked the Nigerian House of Representatives in June when the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr James Entwistle petitioned Hon. Yakubu Dogara, accusing members of the National Assembly of sexual misconducts while on an official trip to the US.
The petition stated that three of ten Nigerian lawmakers who travelled to Ohio as participants of a leadership programme on good governance were engaged in disgraceful conducts. According to the petition, two of the lawmakers, Samuel Ikon and Mark Gbillah asked hotel parking attendants to assist them in getting prostitutes. While the other, Mohammed Gololo, allegedly “grabbed” a housekeeper in his hotel room and asked her for sex.
Like Trump, the accused lawmakers promptly denied the allegations and threatened to sue ambassador Entwistle, and the US government for defamation of character and a calculated attempt to ridicule the National Assembly. However, the ambassador did say that the US government made efforts to authenticate the allegations before the House was petitioned.
The scandal was, and still is, a tragic testament to the calibre of men who serve as lawmakers in the country. Yes, the “Ogas at the top”. Men who view women as objects to be grabbed, and sexual commodities to be bought with money. Little wonder why they had constantly opposed the advocacy for gender equality, and had for a while, shut down the proposed bill until very recently.
Our leaders and lawmakers do not see women as individuals, and fail to appreciate them for anything other than being objects of domesticity, and custodians of the kitchen, and “the other room.” Yes, even our president is a misogynist. Some say he does not value “the politics of women.” I say he does not respect or value women, period. He made that quite clear during a press briefing with German Chancellor Angela Merkel a week ago. And reiterated that his wife, Aisha Buhari, was his nanny in his interview with German broadcaster, Deutsche Welle.
The issue of gender inequality and the objectification of women is clearly not unique to Nigeria alone. But while other countries advance in their conversations around these subjects, we seem to be regressing because our leaders and legislators see women as objects. Unfortunately, the consequences of this are far more dire than it appears to be.
As Toyin Saraki points out in an article for Newsweek, the trend of the abduction of girls and women in Nigeria is symptomatic of the country’s enduring problem with women. A trend that we can put an end to only when we broaden the discourse on gender equality.
“Women are not a commodity to be won and lost in war. Neither are they destined to simply become wives and mothers,” she wrote. “As women, our enduringly accepted and celebrated position as nurturers of families and custodians of the kitchen cannot be allowed to excuse being precluded or denied our right to rise to boardrooms and beyond.”
Nigerian women must continue to fight against objectification, sexual or otherwise, especially in the highest quarters where male chauvinism runs wild and free. Difficult as it seems, we all must strive to pull down, and perhaps, in this case, uproot every shred of patriarchy in our society, government agencies, work and marketplace.