Chimamanda Adichie shares story of being sexually harassed at age 17

Bridget Boakye Apr 19, 2018 at 11:37am

April 19, 2018 at 11:37 am | Women

Bridget Boakye

Bridget Boakye | Contributor

April 19, 2018 at 11:37 am | Women

Award-winning author, Chimamanda Adichie, has shared that she was sexually assaulted by “a powerful man in the media” when she was 17.

She made the disclosure while delivering the closing keynote address at the Stockholm Forum on Gender Equality in Sweden.

Adichie says the unnamed individual assaulted her in his office in Lagos where she went to seek help to launch a poetry book.

This is an excerpt of what the Nigerian author shared:

“When I was 17 years old, I wrote a book of really bad poetry which I hope no one will ever read. But true to the delusional ambition of youth, I thought that it was a wonderful book.

And in Nigeria, when a book is published, it is customary to have a book launch, to introduce the book to the public. And so I set about planning a book launch for this terrible book.

There was a powerful man in the media who I knew could help with this book launch. And so I found my way to his office in Lagos and I told him about my book. ‘Would he please support the book?’ I asked.

He was very impressed that while other teenagers were hardly reading at all, I was serious and focused enough to have written a book.

He was pleasant, warm and then he got up from his desk and walked around to where I was seated, and he stood behind me, and in a move that was as swift as it was shocking, he slipped his hands under my buttoned-down shirt, under my bra and squeezed my breast.

I was so taken aback that I did nothing for seconds. Then I pushed his hands away, but gently, nicely because I did not want to offend him.

I felt a deep loathing for that man and for what he did. I felt as if I didn’t matter; yet I told no one about it and I kept talking to him, being polite, hoping he would help.

I was a feminist long before I knew what the word meant. I did not read feminist text. I knew that the world would not give to women the same dignities it gave to men.”

Adichie was one of the 500 gender equality advocates who participated in the global forum on strengthening women’s and girls’ rights, representation and access to resources. Her speech also touched on the #MeToo movement, how women can find restitution, and media reporting of sexual misconducts.

Watch the video below. Adichie’s story starts at the 3:43:00 mark.

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