Usually, i don’t waste my time reading up on gossip or commenting on the ‘goings on’ of other peoples’ lives.
However, after listening to my colleague repeatedly shout in a shocked voice;
“Isn’t she ashamed of herself?” “Does she not have any shame?”
I decided to break my own rule. I read up on the recent gossip and even wrote my comments on the various social media.
I am sure you are wondering what i am going on about; The social media has been agog with the news of Ese Walter’s affair with Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo, the Head pastor of COZA.
Atypical with Nigeria, everyone who has anything to say is condemning and attacking her. She has been tagged ; a ‘home wrecker’; ‘glory-seeker’; ‘shameless’; ‘sex-starved’; ‘devil’; ‘seductress’ etc.
However, as is common in Nigeria, particularly in issues dealing with sex or sexuality, all opinions have failed to address the main issue here choosing instead to attack Ese Walters.
First thing first; it take two to tango. So, if Ese is attacked so should the pastor. As Meredith Grey rightly put it in ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, “It take two to make a bad sexual decision”. So everything said about her should apply mutatis mutandis to the pastor.
However, Ese is not a pastor, neither is she the head pastor of a church. She is not a role-model, a spiritual leader in charge of other’s spiritual life. She is not God’s prophet or his Shepard, with the biblical injunction to take care of his Sheep. She did not break any vows she made to God. The pastor did. He broke his commitment to God.
Ese is not married. She has made no commitments to any one. She did not promise, before God, to be faithful to any person till death do them part. The pastor did.
Most importantly, she was not the one in a position of authority, nay, spiritual authority.
Admittedly, sexual harassment is not taken seriously in Nigeria. But any observer worth his or her salt will admit that this is a blatant case of sexual harassment.
The pastor took advantage of his position of authority to obtain sexual favours from Ese. This is similar to the cases of Catholic Priests’ sexually abusing young boys in their charge. The priests were responsible for these boys’ spiritual life and they took advantage of the boys because of their position. I mean who would want to offend a priest.
What is the difference between this situation and the Pastor who assaulted some young girls’ in an orphanage? If Ese should be shameful, should these young orphans also be shameful? I mean the pastor of a church did have sex with them. Or is it sexual assault because the orphans were young and Ese was already ‘sexually active’. Is age really a factor in determining whether or not a case is sexual harassment or abuse?
Nigerians are so good at imitating our neighbours over the seas that one would think we would also imitate their treatment of sexual harassment.
The truth is that sexual harassment is a part and parcel of our society. Young girls’ are constantly harassed by older men calling them ‘my wife’, or seeking sexual favours from them at a young age. These instances of sexual harassment or even abuse are not reported because of the stigma attached to such acts by our society. The time for a change is now and i hope the Efe Walters and COZA Saga will propel this change.
If in doubt as to how to address this 7-headed hydra that is sexual harassment, i suggest that you watch ‘Disclosure’. In that movie, Demi Moore clearly brings home the fact that sexual harassment should be severely dealt with.
What is more, all those heaping all sorts of abuse on Ese are no better than the pastor, because rather than feeling pity for and outrage on her behalf, they have abused her as thoroughly as her pastor did.
As for Ese being a home wrecker, the pastor wrecked not only his home but that of God by making a Child of God question her spirituality. As for being a glory-seeker, what glory could she possibly have gained from being coerced to have sex with someone who she was probably not attracted to or in circumstances which made her feel like she was betraying God. The whole sordid tale is tantamount to rape.
She would live with the shameful knowledge that a ‘Man of God’ and the social media violated her in the worse way possible.
However, she would also be remembered for being brave enough to speak up. To, as she puts it, “…use my mess as my message and let everyone with similar experiences know they aren’t alone. They have never been”.