on being back: dumsor

dumsor is a different kind of silence. a hear your neighbor’s chickens’ crow and morning birds sing songs kind of silence. your thoughts become an audiobook that you feel is being broadcasted for everyone can hear. lights out in Ghana is quite the unexpectedly expected surprise. you know it’s coming yet you can’t help but grunt when you’re in the shower and all of a sudden everything goes dark and you’re worried about where that wall gecko you’ve been keeping an eye on might be currently.

when i was younger, the frequent power outages meant fishing for the flashlight and sitting with grandma and grandpa as they told us stories. everything stops yet it’s the start of a new world.

this time around, though it doesn’t happen as often,  it holds a different meaning to me as i look at it from squinting eyes that haven’t yet adjusted from the sudden switch from light to dark.

the other day i was listening to the radio on my way to work. the broadcaster read out the day’s headlines as usual in his overly cheery tone and his LAFA (Locally Aquired Foreign Accent) which was in full effect. “Dumsor Induces Rape”. the way he spoke did not indicate that he was speaking of a serious subject. “As a result, the students say they are afraid to even attend nature’s call at night for fear of being raped by intruders who lurk around restrooms in wait for their prey.”

A student was on air sharing her experience. “There is no light on our toilet so you can’t visit the place alone at night; you either have to go in groups. Most of us, because of the fear of being attacked, do it in a plastic bag and throw it into nearby bush.”

i couldn’t believe what i was hearing. women literally have to avoid bathrooms when the power goes out, in fear of being raped. we have to shit in bags to secure our safety.

i never thought about the intersection  of dumsor and feminist issues till now. it only makes sense to call it a power crisis when women must bear the most consequence for an issue we don’t have control over such a whole nation’s electricity crisis. in addition to rape, the health of women who are pregnant is at stake as well since the power might go out at anytime while you’re in labor.

yes, there are generators. but let’s talk about the affordability of these machines. let’s talk about the way you can only have this luxury if you are fortunate enough to have that kind of money. about the way this power crisis doubly affects poor women.

it only makes sense to call it a power crisis.



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