Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has revealed that she was sexually assaulted at the age of 17 by a “powerful man in the media” in Lagos who she has not named.
The writer, who has been a prominent supporter of the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct, shared her story in a speech at the Stockholm Forum for Gender Equality in Sweden:
There was a powerful man in the media who I knew would help with this book launch, and so I found my way into his office in Lagos and I told him about my book. Would he please support the book? I asked. He was very impressed, he told me. While other teenagers were hardly reading at all, I was serious enough and focused enough to have written a book.
He was pleasant, avuncular, warm, and then he got up from his desk and walked around to where I was seated and stood behind me, and in a move that was as swift as it was shocking he slipped his hand under my button down shirt, under my bra and squeezed my breast. I was so taken aback that I did nothing for seconds. Then I pushed his hand away but gently, nicely, because I didn’t want to offend him.”
She described the loathing and anger she felt after the assault:
Later that day I broke into a rash – on my chest, my neck, my face. As thought my body were recoiling. As though my body were saying what my lips had not said. I felt a deep loathing for that man and for what he did.
I felt as if I didn’t matter, as if my body existed merely as a thing to be done with as he wanted, yet I told no one about it and I kept talking to him, being polite, hoping he would help with my book.”
Reflecting on the effect the assault had had on her, she added that she had been a feminist “long before she knew what the word meant”.
Many people on social media have praised her for speaking out:
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie told the story of how she was sexually molested at 17 and it’s so sad to see women bashing her, asking why she didn’t speak out then, that it’s just a story she cooked up.
Naaah, women are the problem of women, no one can tell me otherwise.