Nigeria's female bouncers fight stereotypes

STORY: They are a team of Nigeria's female bouncers - the "Dragon Squad Limited".

Founded in 2018, the group only employs women of a certain weight and shape, creating a safe space for plus-size women to excel in a field that is traditionally male-dominated.

(Peace Vigorous, Bouncer): "I realized that women can do more, we are strong, we can do the men’s job too.’’

The group is the brainchild of Emem Thomas.

She says for years, her body drew snarky remarks from slimmer classmates that shattered her confidence.

But then she found a niche that values what Thomas now proudly describes as her "plus-sized" body type.

‘’I first of all look at the physical and the body size since my team is all about plus size ladies. If you have the plus size body then that is cool for me, before I now talk about your passion and other qualification of yours.’’

The Dragon Squad's 43 recruits have worked security at about 2,000 events including house parties, funerals, political rallies and club nights.

23-year-old Peace Vigorous is the youngest of the crew:

‘’Before I joined Dragon Squad, I was thinking women could only do tailoring work, maybe hairdressing, sell things in the market or probably sit at home like house wife, but after I joined, I realized that women can do more, we are strong, we can do the men’s job too.’’

In addition to walkie-talkies, boots and dark glasses, the bouncers carry pepper spray.

Thomas says the risk of being molested on the job is real and that's when training helps.

Women have acquired skills, strength, and most importantly for Thomas, confidence.

‘’We have our skills which one of them is ‘’executive Insult’’ as we call, so when crisis is about to happen we apply that system and everywhere is calm and we are able to control the situation until the event is over.’’

The Dragon Squad has also led Thomas to advocate for the rights of girls and women.

Gender violence is rife in Nigeria, which has one of the world's highest rates of sexual assault.

For Thomas, change comes with breaking the barrier to show what women bring to all sectors of society.

And for Dragon's Squad's client Obong Ibanga-Ikpe, a female team have become a preferred choice:

‘’In a few years men may step aside. There will be a fierce competition the two genders – male and female, then you the customer will have to decide whether you want the female security squad, that is what I wanted. And he will have to decide which one do you want, for me I prefer the women.’’