Interviews

‘Rape victims now come out and talk’ – Esther Ijewere-Kalejaiye unveils Breaking the Silence

YEARS into her campaign against violence against women, Rubies Ink Initiative’s Esther Ijewere-Kalejaiye has unveiled her first book.  The book entitled, Breaking the Silence, bothers on rape, sexual abuse and other violence against women.  The book comes handy and can be read on the go.  It provides necessary information about how young girls can avoid sexual violence against them.  The foreward was written by Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, member House of Representatives who is also an advocate against domestic violence.

1-DSC_6578Mrs. Kalejaiye who already has two children  talked more about the book and her marital life.

 This is your first book?

Yes, my first book on rape and sexual abuse.

What inspired it?

Passion for humanity, I am a very passionate person.  I love everything woman. I love standing up for women.  I love to stand for several voiceless women.  So, I just thought let me put this down.  I have been campaigning for so long.  People still need to have this information, that is what inspired me to write the book.

Talking about rape and sexual abuse, are victims talking about it?

So far, so good. In the last few months, women are beginning to come out and talk.  If you are following the trend now, a lot of women are speaking up.  This book has two interviews of women who are ready to talk about their stories.  One was raped by nine men, the other was raped by six men.  You can imagine what they bottled up over the years.  When I started this book, Breaking the Silence, they started coming out.  Now the trend is changing, stigmatization is no longer the order of the day, people don’t even care anymore.  They want to tell their stories as it is.

What does your book, Breaking the Silence teach?

It is a guide to inspire young women, to let them know that rape is real.  As long as you are a woman you are prone to be raped.  There is every possibility at some point of your life to be sexually assaulted.  The book is like a guide for you to know where to go and where not to, places to avoid and to also know that there is a law to warn perpetrators.  So, the book educates both the victims and the perpetrators and the society at large.

Basically, is there nothing we can do to stop rape?

We can’t stop rape, that is the truth.  We will keep campaigning.  We can’t go to every home to protect them.  What we are doing is for people to protect themselves against such occurrence.  We are still hoping at some point we won’t have record of any incidence of rape again.

How many months did it take you to complete the book?

Two months.  I had my second baby in July and I was at home. I just thought let me put everything I have been doing into writing, something people can keep in their archives, something they can keep in their bags. By and large, I will say two, three months.

The book looks handy, do you have plans to make it voluminous later?

It is handy because people don’t like carrying voluminous books.  If it’s too bulky people will start complaining.  It is a guide book with vital information about rape and sexual abuse.  The next book I am writing will also be handy.  We just want what people can drop in their bag while going out and can pick it anytime and read through.  We have all the contact numbers to call for help in the book.  People complain they don’t know where to go for help, there are addresses of places to go in the book and their phone numbers where you can report rape cases.

Do you work with another agency on rape?

I work with the Lagos State Ministry of Women Affairs. Whenever we have cases brought to us we direct such to them to follow up.

Apart from writing this book, what significant progress has happened to your campaign?

To God be the glory, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa is sponsoring a bill in the House to stop rape and sexual abuse and violence against women.  We are hoping that the bill will succeed.  The high point is we are the ones speaking against rape and violence against women.

How far will you say your family is supporting you in your campaign?

My husband is a very supportive person.  I have been doing this campaign before I met my husband, so he supports me in what I am doing.  It is just for me to balance my work and home front, because I am always on the road following rape cases. All rest on the wisdom of God.

Most times people who do all these campaigns are out for the financial gains, how about yours?

For those who know me, I do this for passion.  I spend my money all the way and I am grateful to God, we have had sponsors come on board.  However, I have spent my money most times.  I don’t care about what I am spending as long as people are getting the message.

How are you spreading your tentacles abroad?

We have a blog and it has gone viral.  We just put on different rape cases on the blog where people read stories.  We are spreading the word.  I have few recognitions and awards from abroad in the last two years, I have gotten two awards.

Tell us about your educational background.

I studied Sociology at the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago Iwoye, Ogun State.  From the same university, I have a Diploma in Marketing, I have Diploma in Computer from the Lagos City Computer College.

When did you finally get married?

2011.

How long did it take you to find the right man?

A woman is always hopeful of every relationship she gets into, you hope it leads somewhere.  For me and my husband, we have been friends for so long, we don’t know there was something God wanted us to connect. I will say we married at the right time, at the right time we came into our lives and two became one.

How was the marriage conducted, was it an elaborate ceremony?

Very low key, I do public works but I still need to respect my home, my children and my husband.  Everything that happens in my home stay there.

You have two children now, how do you cope taking care of the children and your work?

I have two wonderful girls.  They are fun to be with.  My first daughter has started talking, the second one is just five months old.  I am coping well.

Where can we get this book?

You can order from Jumia.com at N500 and it will be delivered to you anywhere.  I am working on e-book.

 – TINUOLA JOSEPH

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