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>It is another 25th of November. It is another international day for the elimination of violence against women. It is another reminder of the role you can play to put an end to gender based violence.

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Leave no one behind: End violence against women and girls . That is the theme for this year’s celebration and it advocates for the total elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls irrespective of their location or colour.

Gender violence and discrimination occur in developed nations as well as developing nations. The only difference would probably be in the magnitude and penalty.

An experience I had recently taught me that Violence against Women (VAW) does not necessarily mean physical violence. It cuts across emotional and psychological violence.
I dated and loved someone I thought was the best guy there was. Turned out he was not just a chronic womaniser, but he had very little respect for most of these women. I was blind to that part of him because he gave me 100% respect and what I thought was love. But when the chips were down, he made me realise he held little respect for the other women by the way he picked, used and tossed them aside. They were only there to satisfy his sexual desires. Their opinions, rights and feelings di not amount to anything. After all, they are ‘mere women’. As far as I am concerned, he exposed me as well as those other ladies to emotional and psychological violence and it was uncalled for.
I believe every woman, irrespective of job, color or location, has experienced one form of violence or the other. I recently listened to the Nigerian novelist, Chimamanda Adichie speaking on feminism and I realised that even the celebrities are not left out of this inequality mindset. Personally, I am getting used to having waiters and waitresses greet and fuss over the man beside me while acting like I am not even there.

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Image courtesy of http://www.chimamanda.com
But when the famous Chimamanda explained how it also happens to her, I could only laugh at our society.

Funny enough, some men believe VAW is a thing of the past while many more others believe the female victims asked for it. They ask, what was she doing in a room alone with a guy? She asked to be raped. Like seriously?

But for me, it is more painful when women themselves think through their anus by joining the men to ask such questions. Or when they spearhead the maltreatment of widows or fail to teach their sons to respect and care for their sisters. Who would blame a guy whose mother taught from childhood, that he is more important than his sister? That he can rough-handle the neighbour’s daughter if she refuses to dance to his tunes?
And what about those women that fold their hands and watch their husbands and sons and brothers, rape their daughters and nieces and cousins? They sacrifice the happiness and future of these young girls on the alter of ‘family name’. They stand and watch mutely lest they bring the family name to shame. Is that one even a family?

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There are more female excisors than males, women who still believe that a woman must be genitally mutilated to please a man and keep the ladies loyal and pure – for the man. Excuse me!

No one deserves to be treated like an animal. No girl, no woman deserves to be violated, for any reason at all. There is absolutely no justification for violenece against women. I mean, how can you justify punching a woman senseless by saying she talks too much or rudely? Who punches you when you misbehave? Is she justified to rape the guy because he visited her?

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Today, all of us, male and female, young and old, white or black, we are being called upon to make a difference,  to help end violence against women and girls.
Will you stand up to be counted?

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She was a beautiful and intelligent young lady I met during my National Youth Service Year. We sat together on the pew at the stadium, waiting for the passing out parade of the outgoing corps members to commence. While waiting, we were both browsing through the Bayelcopa, a magazine produced by the youth corps members in the state and we came to the piece on harmful traditional practices against women in Nigeria. She saw my name on the byline and screamed, ‘wow! Is it really you that wrote that or another person bearing same name?’ I smiled and assured her that it was me, after all, that’s part of the duty of my CDS group. ‘Then I must read it first!’ my friend exclaimed. While I watched the parade which had started, she concentrated on the article. Few minutes later, she threw the magazine at me and sighed. I looked at her to know her view on the write u, but lo, she had tears in her eyes. I was alarmed and asked her what the problem was.

That was when she unburdened the yearnings and pains she had been carrying about for years. She was ‘circumcised’ at a tender age as the custom of her people demanded. Now, all grown up, she still bears the brunt of that scar that won’t go heal. She told me that they said the reason for the genital mutilation was to ensure that she remains pure for her husband and not become promiscuous as she grows into womanhood. For her however, the reverse was the case. She does not derive any pleasure from sexual intercourse; arousal and orgasm are alien to her as she had NEVER experienced either of them. The result – she kept jumping from one man to another, hoping that somewhere, somehow, she will find one that can understand and satisfy her. Do you think she will find him? Not until what was mutilated is repaired I guess, and pigs fly.

Female genital mutilation (FGM), perpetuated mostly by women, for the ‘benefit’ of the men. It is alright for the men to run after everything in skirts and still yearn for a woman that is loyal and pure. But why would women patronize them to the detriment of their daughters knowing what they themselves suffer because of that same practice? It baffles me that the women who should be at the forefront of the fight against such barbaric acts are the excisors, the midwives that carry out the crude ‘operation’.

As my friend told me her story, I remembered my roommate in school. When I was doing my project on harmful traditional practices against women, she disclosed to me that she was a victim of female genital mutilation. Though none of us realized the reason at the time, but my roommate also led the kind of life that my friend led, hers varying because she became a lesbian at one point in her life, all in a quest to find some sort of satisfaction. For her, it was an unconscious act because she did not understand why she was the way she was. It was not until I started my research into the topic that we came to understand the why of her behavior.

Do not delude yourself into thinking that female genital mutilation is an outdated concept of the dark ages, it is not. Even in the face of the dangers of HIV/AIDS and other adverse effects of FGM, some educated, modern day parents still ‘circumcise’ their daughters. I was appalled when an editor friend of mine admitted to me that he will circumcise his daughters when he marries. His reason was that he does not want to have wayward daughters who will bring him shame later in life. My friend is married now, and I am wondering if his wife will let him carry out that threat.

It is high time women stood up to say NO to the mutilation and mortgaging of their lives and happiness and that of their daughters for one senseless reason or the other. MEN! There is no proof whatsoever that a ‘circumcised’ female is a guarantee to your having a loyal woman which some of you believe is your birthright; the reverse is rather the case. Please do not allow your daughters to be ‘circumcised’; it is a painful and risky journey in futility PLEASEEEEE. The government and legislators can only pass laws; it is our duty to stop the menace as parents, guardians and relatives of these girls.

I do not know your stand on the issue, but you can share it here with us. Do you really think that female genital mutilation is the panacea to promiscuity in our society? Do you have stories to share with us on this issue? Any experiences worth sharing which others can learn from, contrary opinion? Please do share with us here.



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