Three of us were great friends – Edward, Joy [not real name] and myself. Joy was the Vice Headmaster in our Standard Four Primary School in 1959. She and Emmanuel, our Headmaster, were the only trained teachers in the school. Joy, vivacious, very beautiful and she knew she was, could enter my room at any time but I never entered hers. Each time she suffered from her singular health hazard, she would cry before me, ‘It has come again’. I knew that it was her menstrual pain. She would ‘conscript’ me to carry her to the hospital, seven kilometers away, on a borrowed bicycle.
An Amazon, living above the time and her gender, she taught me how to dance Waltz, Quick Steps and Fox Trot, the reigning dancing steps at that time. Though none of us was born-again, shyness would make me do everything to limit body contact. A cold relationship that snowballed to open war, of which Edward and I were strangers to the cause, developed between her and the HM. One day, it led to a fight. We joined other teachers in separating them. The HM left in a huff to report us to the Area Headmaster, accusing her of insubordination, and Edward and I, of giving a fillip to it.
We were invited to defend ourselves. On one of the days, we wore ‘aso-ebi’, not knowing that it was offensive to our Headmaster. ‘Look at the three of them,’ he pointed at us, ‘see how they dress!’ I wondered what he would have done if he had seen the photograph we took, under which I wrote, ‘The Three’. The Area Headmaster said that there was nothing wrong for teachers to dress the way we did, as it would foster unity. Observing that Emmanuel was really out to undo us, the lady whispered something to the man. His countenance changed. He told Edward and me to go out. He never invited us again for the case.
We heard later from the grave vine what Joy told him. ‘Sir, should a lady be victimized and accused of things she never imagined because she refused to sleep with someone? The HM knows that these men did not offend him at all. It is misplaced aggression. He knows that the matter is between two of us, and he knows the cause,’ she said. That was the final nail on the case’s coffin. The ‘Judge’ believed her and Uncle Headmaster was reprimanded. He blamed himself for reporting to a man, who was reputed to be nursing amorous ambition towards Joy, the beautiful Queen!
Reviewing this matter today, as a child of God, I am tempted to ask myself, whether Emmanuel ever made any sex advances towards her? Was there anything on ground that justified the accusation? Are there not instances where some women have employed this cheap-winning card to cut a pound of flesh from men, especially, where they [women] are undergoing trials arising from serious misconduct? Is it not possible for some women to make similar accusations where they failed to achieve their sex urge towards some obvious great men? Has there been a single case, where that type of accusation failed to impress the listening public, especially, if they include women, who had been victims of sexual abuse?
I was in the court premises one day to bail a man accused of raping a nine-year-old girl. A Christian brother called and asked me where I was and I told him. ‘Leave that man, he is fond of that,’ he pleaded with me. This is why a Christian should have a good testimony about himself. It might be true that the man have had an ugly-sex history, it does not, however, prove substantially that he committed the offence. The trial Magistrate, a woman, asked me, when I went to sign the bail bond, ‘If you feel strongly that this man did not rape this girl, how many ladies have accused you of such since you left the university? If not, why is this girl accusing him?’
Well, by law, a trial Judge should be uninterested in a case before him, even where he was present when it happened. This Magistrate refused to handoff the case, when she was transferred to another court. Don’t blame her. She might have been a rape victim when she was young! Sexual harassment is real. Many a woman had been denied promotions, certain privileges and dismissed from service because they refused to prostitute. That should not, however, make us swallow hook, nail, sinker, boots, et cetera, of every reported case.
Yes, the man I bailed told me that a certain girl stole his money and he reported the matter to her father. With heavy evidence against the girl, her father had to pay him the money but warned, ‘You will see’. And he did. His [the man, who warned] younger daughter accused the man a few months later of raping her. As he was battling with venereal disease, if the girl did not contact it, it might mean that she was not raped, unless he used condom, but nobody was patient to wait for the medical report before adjudging him guilty. The matter was later settled out of the court.
It is painful to be accused wrongly. I have been a victim twice. The first was in 1951, when I was in Primary 2. John, our neighbour’s son, accused me of beating him in school because he refused to share his lunch with me. My Uncle, I was living with, believed him as the cap fitted into the mould. It happened a day I was stopped from going to school with lunch, as his wife caught me sharing my lunch with my friends, Ndubuisi and Friday. In the second case, the housemaid of my boss, who, I had never met in my life, lied to him that I told her to leave his house. I knew later that it was Fred, her uncle, who misled her. I was representing our department in the Scholarship Board. His two children’s scholarship award was withdrawn by our company for scoring below 35% when we pegged the award at 60%.
It is easy for a wife to be convinced that her husband is not guilty of any accusations levelled against him, provided it is not on sexual harassment. Though she may defend him in public, but may be reserved in her mind. The wife of this man, accused by the little girl, believed that he did so, but her husband boss, a woman, believed his own side of the story.
Christian spouses should know their partners properly, knowing what they can do and what they will never do. This will equip them in vouching for them, no matter the weight of evidence against them since a wicked housemaid can scatter a home by accusing a husband of sexual harassment.
For further comment, Please contact: Osondu Anyalechi: 0802 3002-471; [email protected]