Nigeria’s feminine bouncers present their power combating stereotypes By Reuters


© Reuters. Enobong Udofia, 26, a member of the female-only safety crew Dragon Squad Restricted, stands guard at a funeral occasion in Etinan, Akwa Ibom, Nigeria, November 19, 2022. Based in 2018, Emem Thomas, 37, solely employs girls of a sure weight and form, creat


By Seun Sanni and Temilade Adelaja

AKWA IBOM, Nigeria (Reuters) – For years, Emem Thomas’ physique drew snarky remarks from slimmer classmates in southern Nigeria that shattered her confidence and pure affability.

As teasing and taunts marred her teenage years, she gave up on goals like competing in a neighborhood magnificence pageant.

Then she discovered a distinct segment that values what Thomas now proudly describes as her “plus-sized” physique sort: the “Dragon Squad Restricted”, a crew of feminine bouncers.

“I really like what I see dragons do in motion pictures,” she stated. “They’re additionally a logo of energy and safety.”

Based in 2018, Thomas solely employs girls of a sure weight and form, making a protected area for plus-size girls to excel in a area that’s historically male-dominated.

“My crew is all about plus-size girls,” she defined. “When you have the plus-size physique then that’s cool for me, earlier than I now discuss your ardour and different {qualifications}.”

The Dragon Squad’s 43 recruits have labored safety at about 2,000 occasions together with home events, funerals, political rallies and membership nights.

“Folks count on us to be within the kitchen or most likely doing make-up and different female roles, however becoming a member of this squad has actually enlightened me,” stated 23-year-old bouncer Peace Vigorous, the youngest of the crew.

Along with walkie-talkies, boots and darkish glasses, the bouncers carry pepper spray.

The danger of being molested on the job is “at all times one thing we keep in mind”, stated Thomas.

“We at all times prep ourselves for that” and for “males trying down on us.”


On an early overcast morning, Thomas led bouncers by means of a sweaty health session on a parking zone.

The ladies have acquired abilities, power, and most significantly for Thomas, confidence.

“Most of them… have been at all times shy. They could not discuss,” she stated, noting that she too turned introverted due to her weight.

Behaviour that pulls consideration comparable to standing in entrance of a crowd and giving orders will be notably difficult for girls used to avoiding the general public eye.

“Face the group and be your self,” Thomas tells them after they falter. “You’re imagined to be seen and identified.”

Thomas’s newfound confidence has remodeled her social and household life within the metropolis of Uyo, the place the 37-year-old lives together with her two kids.

She now not considers herself and introvert or shies away from occasions.

The Dragon Squad has additionally led her to advocate for the rights of women and girls.

Gender violence is rife in Nigeria, which has one of many world’s highest charges of sexual assault. Jihadist teams within the north are renown for kidnapping women and girls and trafficking them into intercourse work and compelled labour.

For Thomas, change comes with “breaking the barrier” to point out what girls carry to all sectors of society.

She believes feminine bouncers “have a means of taking off hazard” by listening to troublemakers and victims in a means that almost all males should not have persistence for.

“I see no motive why girls (shouldn’t be) given an opportunity.”

Learn extra:

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