Three Enugu-based non-governmental organisations on Saturday staged a protest against sexual harassment of female traders and buyers in Enugu market.
The groups, Market March in partnership with I Serve 2050 and Yali Enugu took the sensitisation march and protest to Ogbette Main Market with a view to ending the menace.
The Coordinator of I serve 2050, Juliet Lego, said the event was meant at bringing people of like minds together to fight the ugly trend.
Lego traced the history of the march to Lagos where one Damilola Marcus had mobilised against the complaints of women about the harassment they go through in market places.
She said: “Several cases of men touching, cat-calling, groping, bullying and intimidating women were mostly reported.
“So, it prompted the first march to Yaba Market and the feedback of the walk showed that a lot of men felt entitled to always touch women as they liked.”
Lego said that the Lagos experience made it imperative to launch the campaign in Enugu.
She said: “Today, we have engaged traders of both sexes to explain to them that there are laws against sexual harassment.’’
The Coordinator of Yali Enugu, Adora Uche-Ugwonna, said that the spate of sexual harassment at Ogbete Market was alarming.
Uche-Ugwonna said that a lot of women were being discouraged to enter the market because of their bitter experiences.
She advised male traders to face their businesses which had brought them out than being in the habit of touching women lustfully.
Chidiebere Nwabuo, a victim of sexual harassment expressed optimism that the issue of harassment in the market was about to be taken seriously.
Nwagbuo said that she once had an ugly experience on a day she went to the market.
She said: “As I bent down to buy onions on a particular market day, a man grabbed me from behind and pushed me.
“When I accosted him for his action he simply told me to shut up.”
The Chief Security Officer of Ogbete Market, Ezebinagu Kasie, said that the leadership of the market was fully in support of the campaign.
Kasie said that, henceforth, any trader found guilty of harassing anyone would lose their shop and be handed over to the police for appropriate action.
The Head of Programmes, Yali Enugu, Iheanyi Igbokon said the campaign would not be a one-off event but a continuous one.
Igbokon appealed to male traders to discipline themselves in order not to fall prey to the law.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the theme of the event was ‘Nwanyi Bu Ife’, meaning ‘Womanhood is Significant’.
The campaign was received with mixed reactions by traders in the market.
Some traders commended the exercise with the belief that sexual harassment was becoming a trademark of male traders, others saw nothing wrong with touching female traders and buyers.