Finding Her Voice; Finding happiness.

Tag Archives: violence against women

If you see or hear your neighbour being violated, abused or molested, what would you do?
I’d really love to hear your sincere opinion.
Are there circumstances or anything that will affect your decision to act or not to act?

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#PREVENT VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMENorange%20the%20world%20poster%202015
Today, 25th November (The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women), the 16 days of activism against gender based violence commences and will end on 10th December (Human Rights Day). The United Nations Secretary-General enjoins you and I to UNiTE to ‘orange the world’ by joining the campaign to end violence against women.

The colour orange for this year’s theme symbolizes a brighter future for women, a future without violence. We can make it possible, you and I through our concerted efforts, except of course if you believe there is nothing wrong in someone physically or mentally oppressing your mother, your sister, cousin, wife, aunt, or girl friend.
untf_orangesplotch-en

The 2015 theme is Prevent Violence against Women and I want to encourage all of us to join in this campaign against violence in any way we can, organize or join events promoting this cause, use the orange colour to make statement, discuss it with friends and colleagues, especially the vulnerable ones and even victims and the perpetrators, write about it, learn more about violence against women to be better equipped, educate someone, follow the hashtags on the social media and make meaningful contributions, speak against it, there is a lot we can do in these 16 days, you and I in order to help make our world a better place.

DO SOMETHING!

DO SOMETHING!

The issue is that many women are victims of gender based violence, factograph-evaw-1-in-3-300x300-enjust that very few are willing to talk about it. According to UN statistics, one in every three women have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime and the say it is a pandemic of global proportions. Yet we tend to ignore it even though we can easily combat it, unlike HIV/AIDS, Ebola and other diseases.

Today, I use this medium to introduce you to this campaign and encourage you to do something. On this site, we will be dealing with different sides of violence against women over these 16 days and I urge any man/woman that has any experiences to share, whether personal or of others to please feel free to do so on this site so that others can learn from these experiences.


HER FATE… Continues

The fat woman in her flowing gown turned and took in the new entrants, nodded in greeting then motioned for them to sit with the others. Her mother dragged her to the available spot on the bench. The others shifted to accommodate them. Her mother immediately untied the wrapper holding the still wailing Braiye and sat him on her laps. When he refused to quiet down, Ma had no option than to breastfeed him. Nimi sat as quietly as possible, observing everything and everyone. The fat woman who seemed to be in charge of the place was discussing in low tones with some of the women and any time she glanced at Nimi, which was often, she would shudder involuntarily. The curiosity was killing her so she mustered courage and asked,
“Ma, what is this place and who is that fat woman?” Her mother looked up from the now happy Braiye and replied,
“You will soon find out Nimi, be patient ok? Be calm, nobody here wants to harm you”.
Nimi wished she could be calm and trust these strangers, but she just could not. There was nothing calming about this place, the environment was rather hostile and stifling and was making her nervous, all those women staring at her in stony silence.

“Ma, I want to go and wee-wee” Her mother opened her mouth to protest, but changed her mind and after staring at her awhile, told her to go. She quickly dashed off to get some fresh air and escape from the offensive environment. Outside, Nimi strolled around the hut, first to the front, then the back. There was no sign of life, so she assumed the place was used temporarily, not a permanent abode. Before she could make it to the other end of the clearing, she heard her mother shouting for her. She moved away from the hut, lifted her gown and pulled down her panties to urinate.

“Come on Nimi, hurry, they are waiting for us, I do not know whether you want to take the whole day to urinate. It is not as if much of the urine came out sef” observed her mother, eying the little dot of wetness on the sand

“Ma, ‘waiting for us’ for what?” asked Nimi, adjusting her dress properly as she went after her mother. Her mother ignored her. Inside, the room the women were murmuring amongst themselves. One of the women stood up and beckoned on them as they entered the room. She led them through another door which Nimi did not even notice earlier, into another room. This particular room was darker if that were possible but more airy containing just bare essentials, a mat, chair, table, and a water container. There they saw the fat woman arranging stuffs on the wooden table at one end of the room. She turned to face them, a knowing smile on her wrinkled face. She reminded Nimi of a crumpled paper
“Welcome my daughter, Nimi abi?” At Nimi’s nod of her head, she went on,
“Sit down both of you please. Nimi, we are here to assist you to become a beautiful woman worthy of her future husband and the entire community, so you must be courageous ok? Do not be afraid” Nimi wondered what the old woman was talking about.

She watched the woman get back to arranging stuffs on the wooden table which held a variety of objects not too visible in the dark. This got her even more perplexed. She looked at her mother but her mother’s face was bent down, as if she were watching Braiye sleep. That was a bad omen, her Ma avoiding her gaze, and this got her heart hammering in her chest.

“Oya, this way Nimi” said the fat woman pointing towards the mat spread on the bare floor. Nimi looked at her mother who looked at her this time and nodded at her in encouragement. She refused to move, shaking her head from left to right, large drops of tears beginning to stream down her angelic chubby face. Her mother held her in an embrace, promising her heaven on earth, but she kept squirming on the seat, sobbing into her mother’s bosom. One of the women came to drag her along with her, but she clung to her mother tighter, refusing to budge. But the woman lifted her unceremoniously while her mother pried her little fingers away from her waist.

No one seemed to care about her cries and screams as she sat down there on the mat, not knowing whether they were preparing to kill her or what. Before she knew it, the women had gathered around her, her mother nowhere in sight, chanting songs about womanhood and beauty. The old woman who seemed to be the leader of the group sat down on a short wooden chair and another woman handed her a razor and other things which she didn’t care to identify.
“Come on Nimi, time to beautify you dear. Lie down now and do not struggle” Said the old woman.

But Nimi only cried harder. Her mother pleaded with her to cooperate with them but all she wanted to do was to run away and they made sure she could not escape. One of them forced her to lie face up on the mat and as she opened her mouth to scream, used a cloth to gag her, while another two held her hands and leg. The fat woman advanced with the razor and a dark red piece of cloth dangling from her elbow. Nimi began to struggle harder but she was only seven, they easily over powered her.

The woman bent down towards Nimi’s legs and opened it wider. She gasped in shame and horror as the woman lifted her gown and dragged her pants off her, her hands deftly probing her private part. She struggled even harder to free herself but could not. In an instant, she felt the razor sawing her body in an excruciatingly painful way. She let out a blood curdling scream but the gag drowned her screams. The woman continued mutilating her, ignoring her pleas and struggles for mercy. She felt the blood oozing out, sliding off her body, felt herself letting go, plunging into darkness, into oblivion. Nimi lost consciousness.

HER FATE…

BE HERE FOR THE NEXT EPISODE…


Nigeria is signatory to most of the international instruments like that of CEDAW and UNICEF on violence against women. Yet these obnoxious practices against women have persisted over the years because they are often neglected. The 1999 population reports asserted that these practices are most pervasive, yet least recognized human rights abuses in Nigeria. The gains from these practices {if any} pale in comparison to the disadvantages, yet they are still perpetuated to a great extent, our sophistication and all notwithstanding. For instance, one wonders why sane and sometimes learned parents would send their ten year old daughter into marriage to a man of sixty who already has four wives. Why (with the help of women themselves) should the elders of the land force the widow to drink the water washed off her husband’s corpse and made to carry the corpse to ‘evil’ forest or some other such stuff? Why the girl child is forced to undergo circumcision, trafficked abroad for God knows what, denied access to her late father’s property? Who benefits from such barbarism and to what extent does these justify carrying out these obnoxious acts?
United Nations in 2006 observed that;

“ Every day, women all over the world are abducted into forced marriages, subjected to harmful traditional practices, married while still children to far older men… Every year, the plight of these women is too often ignored, consigned to the back pages of newspapers or relegated to no more than a passing mention in mainstream broadcast – if at all”.

Most regions in Nigeria are notorious for one or more of these practices. In the East, the terrors of widowhood rites and male child preference are prevalent. Apart from the physical abuses associated with these rites, most times the family’s possessions are confiscated from them especially in the absence of a male child. I can fully attest to this as a victim. Having lost my dad at the age of nine, I can still recall the scraping of hair, the seclusion and isolation, surrounded only by the daughters of the land {umuada}, most of whom were strangers to us. I remember my mother hugging me over and over so tightly as if her life depended on that contact and to assure herself that I was still there, the only part of her that was still same. However, this was just a tip of the iceberg. After my Dad’s burial, we started losing our possessions to these uncles of mine, from household items to land, houses until it got to the point where we no longer had a roof over our heads when we visit the village. Of course, you are wondering why we should stand and do nothing. No, there were series of meetings to demand, plead with these people to desist from this wickedness, but then, mum has no male issue so there was no case. The Lawyer hired was able to only secure a parcel of land temporarily; after all, there is no man to inherit it and there was no will.

In the North, child marriage is the order of the day. These children, some of them attend primary school from the husband’s house! These child-wives are not physically nor mentally equipped to take on this task which it seems society has pushed them into. More often than not, this results in wife battering since the girl child cannot live up to expectations. Of course, the greatest challenge here is V.V.F.,( Vesico vagina fistula) and other such health complications which turns some of these kids into social nuisance loitering the streets because they have become outcasts. There was the recent case of the small girl in Northern Nigeria who poisoned her would-be husband and his cohorts to death in protest. What I fail to understand is how a mother who passed through this ordeal will allow her child to be subjected to same, but then again, she is underpowered, thus has limited options.
Female Genital Mutilation {FGM}, erroneously tagged female circumcision is practiced more in the South though paradoxically; the operation tends to take more extreme form in the North. FGM involves cutting of whole or parts of the female sexual organ. The agonizing part is that older women themselves inflict this torture on the younger ones, inadvertently, to please the men folk since the practice is believed to enhance fidelity. The relationship between fidelity and mutilation beats me. In fact, research has revealed that FGM is neither therapeutic no reasonable, the beliefs are mere assumptions and thus, baseless.

The commonest of all forms of violence against women is domestic violence. So many women suffer so much pain in their homes through battering, rape and its attendant psychological trauma in the hands of their husbands. Homes that are supposed to provide refuge and peace becomes house of horror, yet they endure because marriage is for better for worse. What type of upbringing will children from a family where the father indecently assaults and batters their mother have? Can there ever be genuine justification for this atrocity? But because it is a woman, it doesn’t really matter; after all, it is the man’s world.

The consequences of all these harmful practices spills over to not just the immediate family but the society at large, thus the need for all hands to be on deck to stop these menace. Chances of HIV/AIDS are increased, broken homes resulting in churning out of miscreants, perverts who molest members of the society, become rampant, maternal and child mortality rate is increased and then the silent killer of psychological stress. These erroneous beliefs could be summarized as economic vulnerability, dependence and ignorance. Nevertheless, women should arise and stand up to men and the society. Why aid the man to torture fellow women, why keep mute and wait to be butchered to death? There are NGO’s and such organizations as FIDA – International Federation of Female lawyers, Widows Development Organization {WIDO}, that are always available to assist women in such predicaments as these.
Nigerian women will remain unsung, unknown, unappreciated, unrewarded and subjugated until we are able to rise up and say no. It is our battle, our fight and it must start from us before we start looking out for outside help.
Men! Please make provision for the future. You may think you have the best brothers and sisters and uncles but please, the Bible says that the heart of man is dangerously evil. Protect your family by writing a will. If you belong to the school of thought that believes the wife is not worthy of inheriting your property, please do it for your children, bequeath the world you think you posses to them if that will make you feel better. No one knows tomorrow.

The Nigerian government should do well to implement the contents of these legal instruments. Passing bills is just not enough, implementation is the key word
here, action and more action is needed. The bureaucratic tapes should be reduced. Law enforcement agencies should help in enforcing these laws rather than treat victims like culprits.
The media as agenda setters can do well to use that power in reporting and safeguarding the ‘weaker sex’.
I leave you with the words of Daniel Defoe

“For I cannot think that God Almighty ever made them (women) so delicate, so glorious creatures; and furnished them with such charms, so agreeable and so delightful to mankind; with souls capable of the same accomplishments with men; and all, to be only stewards of our houses, cooks and slaves”.



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