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The Bloomers : Jekein Lato-Unah

With women rising in strength, becoming, owning and getting it, Radr Africa decided to interact with some of the fast rising female power houses, who are not just winning in their career but making wins as a part of their life.

Jekein Lato-Unah is a Nigerian multi-dimensional artist born and bred in Lagos, Nigeria. Jekein is known for her use of art to create pieces that reflect social, political and cultural issues in a thought-provoking manner . Jekein is a feminist, philanthropist and activist who has been recognised by BBC for her unending fight against patriarchy and abuse most importantly, women and girls suffer from it through the Stand To End Rape Initiative. In this interview we ask her questions on activism and how she overcoming societal issues.

– You have faced some challenges over the years in being active around this issue of feminism, equality and women liberation. Do any stand out for you? What was it? and how did you manage it?

JLU – The first time I was arrested, it was by my clients husband. He illegally arrested me for helping his wife with the divorce papers. He, a civilian, gave the police, who is meant to uphold the law, an instruction to beat me up while in custody. Unfortunately for them, my lawyer got my message on time & came to my rescue. My arrest rattled my client, his wife, and she discontinued the divorce process and stayed with him.

This experience stands out because it was my first arrest and from the moment I got out of the cell, I knew I was always going to fight for women & girls, even if it cost me my life.

– Is there anything that you wish you’d learned before you began work as a social activist?

JLU – I had just turned 18 when I really began social activism so I was naive. I wish I knew that disappointment was normal and should be expected. In my first year of social activism, I fell into mild depression because things weren’t going the way I planned. I couldn’t believe the mentality of the average Nigerian, I couldn’t believe that sexual violence was a daily occurrence, I couldn’t believe that women were third-class citizens.

– Generally, what have been some high points during your activity? Low points?

JLU – The high points have been every single time I made an impact. Every time a woman is legally, financially & emotionally free from her abusive husband, every time an abuser is recognized for being an abuser & rightfully discriminated against, every time an abuser gets jail time, every time a survivor sees meaning to their life & excels in whatever they do, every time a child I taught consent/gender equality to recounts a scenario where they applied my teachings.

The low points are every single time I cannot get justice for my clients but the lowest point of it all so far was when I lost a client to an abusive husband. I had to go to therapy, that was a different kind of low.

– How would you like to be remembered as an activist?

JLU – I would like to be remembered as a raging feminist who fought for the rights of women and girls until she had nothing left in her.

Questions: Stephanie Odili

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