Many things have been happening on Twitter lately, from the #EndSARS movement to Lil Frosh allegedly beating up his babe to Room 306. If you don’t know the Room 306 gist, trust me, you don’t want to know.
I was quietly strolling down the Twitter street when I saw a tweet that made me pause.
Wait, women actually need a letter of consent from their partners before they can have their hair cut? Their own hair? The one on their own head? I’m shook.
While this sounds really ridiculous, many women confirmed that this practice actually exists and they have experienced this a lot of times.
Come to think of it, why, how and when did this practice start?
Public outcry ke?
You know, in the last few days, we have been talking about SARS brutality in Nigeria, but it is obvious that we also need to talk about the brutality and the blatant disregard of the law and human rights of the people by our law enforcement agents. From soldiers to policemen, MOPOLs, FRSC, and LASTMA officers, it seems everyone is looking for an avenue to oppress the bloody civilians.
When I read Eketi‘s tweet, my first reaction was to blame the barber? I mean, what’s that? But come to think of it, if you, as a barber, gets arrested and locked up by a woman’s husband for cutting his wife’s hair, would you try it again? To be honest, me, I won’t. I will not because of 1,000 Naira haircut chop beating, sleep in a cell, and perhaps have to bail myself out (with some cash, of course). The best option is to avoid wahala and tell women to have the consent of their husband or boyfriend first before I sink my clippers into their hair.
There’s nowhere in the constitution that says a woman must get consent from her husband or boyfriend before cutting her hair. Why are we even having this kind of conversation in 2020? It is clearly wrong, unconstitutional, and illegal to arrest a barber for cutting a woman’s hair. But just like a lot of wrong things in Nigeria, this is happening. It’s like anyone who has the smallest bit of power is a law unto himself and can beat up or arrest any other person at will. We know it is wrong that a barber could be arrested for cutting a woman’s hair, but how can they fight back? Can they even sue the officer that arrested them? Who do they report to? Remember, this is Nigeria where SARS officers are brutalising and killing people in broad daylight and they’re going scotfree.
We’re operating in a really shitty system that gives excess power to security agents and does not persecute them when they misuse this power. Even a man who is not in any force can invite policemen to arrest a barber for cutting his wife’s hair.
Let’s paint this scenario: A man walks into the police station (or maybe reports to his police friend) and says “my wife don go cut her hair and the barber cut am without asking me first, make una come help me arrest am”. Then they too will tuck in their trousers, cock their guns, follow the man to the barber’s shop, arrest the barber (with a lot of slaps and shirt-grabbing, as usual), bundle him into the police van and take him to the station. When you take this barber to the police station, what will you write in his statement? That he cut a grown woman’s hair? Is that an offense? Think am na.
This whole issue also shows that a lot of men still infantilise women (read their wives/girlfriends) and do not see them as a complete entity, a full human capable of making decisions herself. It is not your head so why are you vexing that she cut her hair? If you are angry about her decision, why don’t you face her instead of fighting the barber? Is this your way of saying “I know you don’t know any better so I will go fight the person who should know better?”
I’m still trying to wrap my head around all this and picture many scenarios. As a man, will you be comfortable writing a consent letter so your wife or girlfriend (a grown, able-bodied woman who has a brain, can clearly think and make decisions) can cut her hair? If you come home to find out that your wife has cut her hair, would you fight the barber or get him arrested? Remember it is also her head and not yours. As a barber, have you ever been arrested for cutting a woman’s hair? As a woman, have you ever needed permission from your partner before you can cut your hair?