Oluwaseun Osowabi with her friends, on their own, initiated a campaign to fight the growing incidence of rape in Nigeria which has critically eaten into the fabric of the society. We have followed their campaign on social media like twitter as the garner support from ordinary citizens. They have organised several peaceful protests and we wanted to know more about Oluwaseun and why she embarked on this project.
Hi Oluwaseun, could you tell me more of your background
My names are Ayodeji Oluwaseun Osowobi, I am the only girl from a family of five (parents inclusive). Born and bred in Lagos and partly Zamfara State, but originally from Ogun State; Ikenne to be precise. I love to travel, meet people and wash clothes with my hands [that’s weird I know =)]. I am from a Christian home and from a very loving family. I had the best childhood as I always went to one of the best schools and had the best support system.
I attended St. Bernadette’s Primar School Akoka for my primary education, Government College Ketu-Epe for my junior secondary education, before moving to Barachel Model College Iju-Ishaga, Ogun state for my senior secondary education. I then furthered my studies as Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
What spurs you on this cause, have you had any experience?
During my NYSC days in Rivers State, I was raped. It was during the election period when I had refused to take bribe from one of the prospective senators — as he wanted me to register underage children to be eligible to vote. On several occasions he would send people to talk to me, bribe me, but I reused to bulge (not knowing I was going to pay for it). Well, the community didn’t find it funny that I didn’t want their son to win the election and the end result was “rape.”
I told my parents about the incidence and my mum specifically encouraged me. She inspired me to make my MESS a MESSAGE to the world. I needed to be prepared and psychologically ready to help someone else out there. I also needed the knowledge to break into a world people typically avoid. Hence, I went to the United Kingdom to gain a Master’s Degree in International Relations; specialization in Gender Studies, from Swansea University. After my graduation, I interned at the United Nations and Half the Sky Movement, to enhance my understanding and equip me for the battle ahead.
I was also spurred by the numerous rape cases I come across daily. This served as a quick reminder that I am not the only victim, rape is a prevalent issue for girls in Nigeria. Who will stand up against this menace? Who will say “enough is enough?” This was what birthed “StandtoEndRape.”
How did you start and how has it got to this stage?
Together with my team, we started our blog — standtoendrape.blogspot.com — as an avenue to educate people and also to create more awareness. We also tweet via @StandtoEndRape, as twitter has a large community that we can reach. My team also does research and write educative/insightful articles for the blog and our Facebook page — www.Facebook.com/StandtoEndRape.
How has the response been, have been getting enough support?
Everyday, people reach out to me one way or the other — mostly through Facebook and Twitter — telling me they have once been a victim. This breaks my heart. I have been running a session called “#SpeakOut,” which is an opportunity for rape survivors to share their stories and how they overcame their ordeal. Prior to this, I counsel survivors to help them gain their confidence, be ready to transition from a “victim” to a “survivor” and also prepare them for the challenges ahead.
How does other victims react to sharing their experiences?
Society (at present) will always stigmatise, but it’s left to we survivors to stay “stronger than the storm.” I am sure they will be willing to share their story. They are no longer ashamed, afraid to face the world, they are SURVIVORS.