VIOLATED – By Liz Ajala

Mrs. Adebanjo’s office was small and cramped. Her desk piled with papers and files with a small laptop perched at the edge. She stood up as I came in, “You must be Janet Koko.”
She was a fair, plump middle-aged woman with low cut hair and a warm smile. She dressed in a trendy cream silk blouse with a long Ankara skirt and had a calm disposition about her and a firm handshake. “I’m Rose Adebanjo. How may I help you?”

She wasn’t at all what I had expected and certainly not Yoruba as I had imagined. I could not hide my surprise as I stammered, “You’re not what I…”

“Expected?” She smiled mischievously. “My Father is from Abia state. We left there when I was a child. Please sit down Miss Koko.” She turned and walked back to her desk.

“Thank you for seeing me at such short notice Ma.”

“Oh! It’s absolutely fine. Anything for Kachi, she’s like a sister to me. Please tell me your story.”

My mind flashed back to a few days ago when I had confided in Kachi, my neighbour about my encounter with Mr. Tony at the office. It was Friday and most of the staff were in that TGIF mood. Everyone looked colourful in either native or very casual outfits. Fridays were always like that at Tunel Synergy. Even Ronke, the office efiko and snitch relaxed a bit and laughed a little more on Fridays. You couldn’t blame us for looking forward to the weekend with so much excitement. We had worked hard all week as the external auditors concluded their annual investigation of the company’s books.

It was therefore a big surprise when Mr Tony, the Regional Manager called me to his office ten minutes to five to discuss the pending invoices for payment. I had just returned the folders to the Document Controller and prepared my to-do list for Monday. I had even logged out of SAP and in no mood to delve into serious work again especially after I missed my break just to ensure I conclude my task for the week and leave the office by 6pm. Besides, Tolu my fiancé was waiting for me downstairs. We had a date tonight and after postponing it for so long due to the audit exercise, I had finally agreed to spend the rest of the evening with him.

“Janet,” he called again, a bit louder than the last time with a hint of impatience in his voice.

“I’m coming sir,” I was very irritated and I intended to let it show. There’s absolutely no way I’ll be bullied into working late today… of all days, I mused.

Mr Tony’s office was big and tastefully furnished. It was one of the many reasons why the staff disliked him. He was thought to be a selfish man who didn’t care about the welfare of his subordinates except he was going to benefit something from it.

“Sit down Janet. I just need some information on the pending Okeke Enterprise invoices. How far have you gone in processing them?” he asked

“I have sent three of them for approval and I’m still expecting the supporting documents from Procurement for the other two.”

“Have you sent them an email?”

“Yes sir,” I replied wondering what other excuse he would come up with to keep me from leaving. Little did I know what he had up his sleeve.

Storried Violated

I watched him pick up his phone and call the Procurement Manager to ask for the documents. They spent almost five minutes on the phone going back and forth on why the invoices needed to be processed as soon as possible and after 2 more minutes he said thank you and dropped the phone. By then, I was becoming very uncomfortable, glancing at my watch at short intervals and hoping Tolu would not become impatient especially as I had left my phone on my desk not expecting to spend much time in Mr. Tony’s office. Now I had wished I brought it because Tolu would have called and I would have had an opportunity to let Mr. Tony know that someone was waiting for me downstairs.

“Janet, the procurement manager is expecting you. Please get the documents, process the invoice and send it to me for approval now.”

“But sir…” I stammered, looking very confused. Did this man actually expect me to start working on that invoice now? Ten minutes after closing time?

“What is it Janet? I am aware that it is closing time but the payment of that invoice is very crucial to our operations next week. Are a few extra minutes of your time too much sacrifice to make for this organization?”

“No sir,” I said glaring at him as I turned to leave his office.

My eyes clouded with tears. This is just not fair at all. Sometimes, I wished I had the guts to speak my mind and refuse to be blackmailed like this. Of course he knew I had made countless sacrifices and this normally will not be an issue but it was Friday for God sake!

I called Tolu to inform him on the new development and pleaded with him to be patient. He had been waiting in the car park for 20 minutes already. Then I hurried to the procurement department on the 5th floor. By 7pm, I was the only staff left in the office as I knocked at Mr Tony’s door to let him know the invoice was ready for approval.

Surprisingly, Mr Tony seemed very relaxed and in no mood to approve invoices. He was reclined on his leather sofa with his feet on a stool, tie and jacket off, helping himself to a bottle of wine which was almost empty. He had turned off some of the bright lights in the room and the music from the TV was so loud that I could barely hear him. I had never seen him in this mood before but then, I had only worked here for six months.

“The invoice is ready sir,” I said raising my voice above the volume of the TV.

“Okay dear, drop them on my desk,” he sounded a bit too informal for me… kind of tipsy. ‘Well, that’s his business,’ I thought to myself. It was obvious he did not have a family to go back to or something better to do with his Friday. I did and I wasn’t going to let him ruin the rest of my evening.

I walked across the room, dropped the invoices on his desk, turned to leave and was startled to see him standing right behind me. I hadn’t even noticed when he got there. My heart began to race. I could perceive alcohol in his breath and he had this hungry glazed look in his bloodshot eyes.

“Janet, where are you hurrying to? We could spend the evening together. Right here… I don’t bite you know,” he said with a silly grin on his face.

I immediately tried to step back and bumped into his desk just as he grabbed my shoulders and roughly pulled me against his chest, putting his arms around me. Mr. Tony was a tall man with very broad shoulders so I knew I stood no chance against him. I opened my mouth to scream just as he clamped his wide palm over my mouth. He effortlesslessly dragged me to the ground and hot tears began to run down my eyes. I knew what was coming next as l looked at him pleading with my eyes full of emotion with the feeble resistance I could muster has he violated me.

Through all the tears and pain. I could only think of Tolu. What will become of our engagement? We had begun planning the wedding two weeks back and for over a year, he had supported my desire to get married as a virgin. How would I face him after today? How would I tell him that his most priced possession has been wickedly snatched by a total stranger? The more I thought about it, the harder I cried.

“Here, clean your eyes,” Mrs Adebanjo passed me the tissue box as she put her arm around my shoulder. I had not realised that tears were streaming down my face as I narrated my ordeal. I did not even see her come round the table to stand beside me. The expression on her face was intense but not surprised. It was obvious she had heard this kind of story many times – a vulnerable woman being taken advantage of by an evil man. She was a human rights Lawyer and there were very few things that surprised her. The world was definitely going crazy.

Five years ago, Kachi had come to Mrs. Adebanjo with a similar story. She was just twenty years old and her uncle who lived with her family for years had raped her. She had been too scared to tell anyone so she went online in search for help and there she found the Adebanjo Foundation for Women. The foundation helped her handle the case for free and today her uncle is in Jail. But Kachi had never stopped looking for women in similar situations to help. And here was another one.

Another young innocent girl with a bright future violated by her boss? Mrs Adebanjo thought. There is absolutely no way she would let him go free. Too bad many young women had to secretly suffer such shame and humiliation coupled with the health issues brought about by rape. As a result, too many men were walking the streets free boasting about their conquests like it was a million dollar contract they had just won. Shame! If only women would speak up and seek help. If only they would defy the societal stigma and testify in court, if only they would reach out to help others by telling their stories. If only… There was very little she could do if they did not come to her but for those who did like Kachi and Janet, Justice must be done!

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By Liz Ajala

Mrs. Adebanjo’s office was small and cramped. Her desk piled with papers and files with a small laptop perched at the edge. She stood up as I came in, “You must be Janet Koko.”


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