Monday, November 21, 2011

Gender Violence; Women mostly affected - by Theresa Kelubia

Violence is an act carried out with the intention or perceived intention of physically harming another person. From a gender perspective, it is a violent act perpetrated on women mostly by men because they are women. It has also been pointed out by the society that women are vulnerable to various forms of violent acts for several reasons such as being seen as weaker vessels,   being financially dependent on their men, and low self esteem. When there is a crisis woman and young girls are usually targeted and this has led women to be subjected to rape, sexual harassment, just to mention a few.
Rape has become the issue of the day as many women and young girls are victims of this evil act. Rape is an unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman or a girl without her consent. The word rape sends shivers down the spine of most women, I for one. It is the worst sexual assault and violence any women can be subjected to but a very common incident in our society today. Women are often raped by their fathers, stepfathers, uncles, strangers and robbers.
It is bad enough for robbers to do away with your valuable goods but very devastating when they encroach on the most valuable, priceless part of you, carting away with that which cannot be replaced in a life time, leaving the victims with a life-time  scare,  a condition that in most cases has an adverse effect on them. In the same vein, it is very bad to hear a situation where a father will rape his own daughter. It is very disheartening. This in turn has other very traumatic consequences such as; expulsion from school, early/unplanned pregnancy, HIV/ AIDs, abortion and in certain cases death.
In relationships with men, women are also said to be vulnerable (weaker vessels).  This relates to the society’s concept that views women as property owned by men and dependant on their male ‘protectors’. Many women suffer humiliation, brutalization and battering as a result of this misconception. The marriage of under-aged girls against their will is a harmful practice embedded in many cultures and traditions. The root causes are complex but driven by factors that include gender inequalities, poverty, negative traditional or religious practices, weak enforcement of laws that prohibit such practices as well as pressures caused by conflict and natural disasters. It is a cross border issue affecting women and young girls in many countries around the world.
Violation of women’s human rights exist in three contexts- the family, community and the state. It is very appalling that the family is a major site of violence from the very moment a female child is born she is considered as a second-class. She is deprived of education and inheritance in favour of her male siblings. Everything done to her is geared toward preparing her to carry out her duties to her husband and family. The community culture, religion and ethnic values play a critical role in reinforcing the structure of the family and the position of women within it. The community plays the role of defining gender relations within the ideal family and often set the stage for female subordination. Punishment for extra-marital sex, rape and other forms of physical chastisements  are amongst additional practices of gender violence perpetrated against women in the name of preserving ethnic or religious integrity. At the state level, for example in Nigeria the rights of women are clearly spelt out in the nation’s constitution. Rights is defined as “A power, privilege or immunity, guaranteed under the constitution. Respect for rights is seen as a matter of justice. The rights of women enshrined in the Nigerian constitution are consistent with the ideals of humanism. Unfortunately, it is sad to say that those rights and ideals have remained paper tigers, mere theoretical postulations without any practical bearing on the lives and conditions of women.
Every woman deserves more than being seen as a weaker vessel, and discriminated against in the society. Domestic violence in the country should be discouraged. Women should be protected and not to be destroyed. Nigeria is blessed with women and if encouraged and given the opportunity, they will contribute substantially to the development of the country and Nigeria would become a better place. "A woman's body is the only piece of Real Estate on which she owes no mortgage." (Glenda Simms, Jamaica)

Margaret Schuler- Freedom from violence women’s strategies from around the world
Akanda L. & Shamim. I (1984) Women and Violence: A comparative study vio_b_986669.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000008
Women unfairly treated by policy-makers”, Daily Sun Newspaper, Tuesday, June 22, 2010, p 7.

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