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Nigeria’s Yagazie Emezi Is Using Her Story And Her Art To Address Violence Against Women And The Vulnerable Young In Nigeria

Yagazie Emezi is an artist and self-taught documentary photographer focused on African women and their stories surrounding health, sexuality, education and beauty standards.

Yagazie shared her story recently to help victims and survivors of abuses. In collaboration with Stand to End Rape, an organization fighting against rape, Yagazie is telling the stories about the realities of survivors of violence.

She wrote,

The years in which I was violated are all blurred. 10/12yrs old? I don’t remember. My abusers could easily make eye contact/conversation with my family. They didn’t have to tell me to keep quiet. & I remained quiet, ashamed, blaming myself.

A day eventually came when I was home alone as was the norm being a latchkey kid- the older boy came knocking, asking for a charger. I looked him in his eyes, told him no & locked the door. He never came again. The day that his father came for me, I prayed & prayed & with all my heart, wished him dead. I was so angry. More than anything, I was tired. Two weeks later, the man died in is living room. I heard his family wailing that morning.

As a child, I coped remarkably well. I eventually let go of the anger I carried towards people I believed should have seen and protected me. some time later, an Oprah episode came up on childhood abuse where she looked right in the camera &said, “If you’re watching this right now, I want you to know that it is not your fault,” & just like that, I forgave myself for the feelings of blame and shame I had so unfairly given myself. (Thanks Oprah mama).

The thing about efficiently equipping yourself emotionally at a young age is that you don’t fully understand the process of how you got there. As an adult, I’m in awe of the little girl me & how she managed to grow & trust in people again. But she shouldn’t have felt so alone & silenced.

A few years ago, I learnt about @standtoendrape, a youth-run organisation. That is literally protecting and saving lives through awareness/advocacy. For the last two years, I have been working on the Here project – together with STER & some truly remarkable individuals.

Here project addresses the reality of violence against women & the vulnerable young in Nigeria.

I am grateful to have received a grant from the U.S Consultant Gen. to remain in Lagos and continue this work of photographing volunteer survivors in setting similar spaces in which the acts of violence took place against their bodies to deconstruct the culture of silence & shame that surrounds sexual violence showing not only that this violence happens, but where it happens.

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Self-portrait The years in which I was violated are all blurred. 10/12yrs old? I don’t remember. My abusers could easily make eye contact/conversation with my family. They didn’t have to tell me to keep quiet. & I remained quiet, ashamed, blaming myself. A day eventually came when I was home alone as was the norm being a latchkey kid – the older boy came knocking, asking for a charger. I looked him in his eyes, told him no & locked the door. He never came again. The day that his father came for me, I prayed & prayed & with all my heart, wished him dead. I was so angry. More than anything, I was tired. Two weeks later, the man died in his living room. I heard his family wailing that morning. As a child, I coped remarkably well. I eventually let go of the anger I carried towards people I believed should have seen & protected me. Some time later, an Oprah episode came up on childhood abuse where she looked right into the camera & said, “If you’re watching this right now, I want you to know that it is not your fault.” & just like that, I forgave myself for the feelings of blame & shame I had so unfairly given myself. (Thanks @oprah mama💕). The thing about efficiently equipping yourself emotionally at a young age is that you don’t fully understand the process of how you got there. As an adult, I’m in awe of the little girl me & how she managed to grow & trust in people again. But she shouldn’t have felt so alone & silenced. For the last 2 years, I have been working on the Here Project – together with STER (Stand to End Rape) & some truly remarkable individuals, Here Project addresses the reality of violence against women & the vulnerable young in Nigeria. I am grateful to have received a grant from the U.S Consultant Gen. to remain in Lagos & continue this work of photographing volunteer survivors in settings similar to the spaces in which the acts of violence took place against their bodies – to deconstruct the culture of silence & shame that surrounds sexual violence–showing not only that this violence happens, but where it happens. #thehereproject

A post shared by Yagazie Emezi (@yagazieemezi) on

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