By Ukamaka Olisakwe Evelyn
As a new employee in Ecobank back in 2008, we were given targets from the Head Office – to ‘get’ deposits, like they were hanging on trees and all we were to do was ‘pluck’ the monies. Most women told me horrific stories of how they had to affairs with men and women alike, all in the name of getting ‘deposits’.
One particular incident stays with me:
I had walked into the office of this well known independent oil marketer in my region – my church-member, to sell him my bank services, even though every other bank was offering same services. In his expansive office, he offered me this plush chair to sit on, and then he hastily went on to get me drink. I sat calmly, as my heart thudded in my chest, even as I thought of what to tell him since all I had planned to recite had evaporated immediately I beheld his lewd smile. He wore that same slimy smile as he offered me the bottle of Maltina.
“My pretty baby, what brings you to my humble office?” He was frenzied with excitement. He brought a low chair and sat opposite me, his knees almost grazing mine. He didn’t give me chance to catch my breath and confidence. My stomach quivered in fear. He knew this game well.
“Call me, Ken,” He quipped in. He was almost as old as my father.
“My name is Ukamaka Olisakwe.”
“Uka-baby, don’t be shy. Be free with me. Talk to me.” He quickly grabbed my shoulders, shook them, and then left me again. He launched into a lot of nonsense about how I looked and how he liked my outfit, especially my shoes. I squirmed all the while. “Don’t be shy.” He held my hands in his. I stared at him, and then pulled my hands away.
He asked how long I had been in the banking industry. I said I was new. He beamed. He would give me deposit that would shock my manager. He will make me the envy of all in my branch. Ha! “Do you know if I call your MD and told him I am going to give you N100, 000, 000 in fixed deposit you would be given double promotion? What is even your salary? Do you have an official car yet? I am going to shock, baby. Just ask about me. Do you know how many ladies ‘chase’ me for deposit? I just like you.”
I stared at my palms. My wedding ring glistened. I felt sad, then angry. I knew if I were a man he would not be this informal with me. He would have been respectful and might even have engaged me in a talk on politics or football or the financial markets. But I was a woman, and as expected, I deserved none of those ‘gentlemanly’ discussions. What do we know, we women? We should be seen as sex objects- as toys to be played with, that’s the best respect you could give to a woman. Right? Not as human equals, but as objects to massage men’s ego.
“Do you want to have sex with me?” I blurted.
The smirk disappeared. He looked a little shaken. Then he quickly began to regain the lost balance.
“Ehhh, you are one naughty girl..” The dirty smile crept out again.
“I am not naughty.”
He laughed out loud. “I like you. You are fearless.”
“I didn’t know I was supposed to be afraid of you.”
“No. No. I didn’t mean that. Just surprised by your boldness.” He was laughing still.
“You don’t want to see me bold, Sir,” I said. I wanted to tell him that only a coward, piss-poor-excuse-for-a-man would disrespect a woman this way. I wanted to scream in his face that only fools like him would turn an official visit as an opportunity to browbeat a woman into sex. Another woman might cower, but I am not another woman. I am Ukamaka. If I ever wanted to engage into an affair with you, I would, not because I was forced into it, but because I wanted it. But I quietly stood, patted down my dress and said:
“Thank you and have a nice day, Sir.”
I got to our office and told my supervisor, the good man, Ugochukwu Nwamara, of my challenges. He did the best thing for us – the marketers. He introduced to us the concept of ‘Team Marketing’. He made us confident. He thought us that women should be shown respect not because they should be pitied, but because they are Human Beings, too.
I wish other women were lucky, but it is sad that this modern day slavery is still practiced.