See The Nigerian Rite Of Passage Where Girls Go Bare-Chested In Public


Coming of age is something that is universal, but what is one communities’ idea of the celebration of feminism is another’s idea of gender discrimination.
The Nigerian Delta tribes are scattered around and in some of these tribes, the Iria ritual is practiced.

Some of the groups that practice the ritual include the Iyankpo group, the Ijimkorobo group, the Alagbariye group from Ebeni, and the Saugeye group.
The Iria Ritual is popular to various tribes in the Niger Delta, with some forms of the ritual being harsher than the others. It typically involves young girls who are between 14 and 16 undergoing rituals that prepare them for marriage. In some places, these girls have to be bare-breasted in front of the crowd for inspection. The goal of this is to ensure that their virginity is intact.

The young girls also get to visit the fattening room where they are well fed with body nourishing meals, especially pounded yam mixed with pounded plantain.
In the fattening room, the ladies are pampered and are prepared to dance half-naked at the market square. At the end of their stay in the fattening room, they are changed and look more beautiful. Their bodies are then painted in different colours for the dance.

In time past, it was believed that if one did not go through the Iria ritual it would be very difficult for her to have a child. One of the common belief among the people is that young women going through puberty have attachments to water spirits and so, they gather at dawn to chase the spirits. After this, a senior male member of the tribe strikes the girls with sticks sending them back to the village.
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