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The Link between Tradition and Violence against Women in Nigeria

Written by Oreofe Omisope

In Nigeria, there are many unhealthy acts perpetrated against women simply because of their gender, but perhaps the most horrifying of all is the menace of domestic violence. In the news or on the radio, we hear of women who have been abused by their husbands or who have been the victims of date rape. Domestic abuse, whether it is perpetrated by threats or physical assault, is something that women and society as a whole should not and must not condone.

The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, which the UN General Assembly adopted in 1993, defined ‘Violence against Women’ as “any public or private act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary depravation of liberty”. In Nigeria, cases of violence against women, especially those perpetrated by an intimate partner, are as frequent as the common cold. In fact, according to an article on BMC Women’s Health, “almost four women in Nigeria reported having ever experienced intimate partner violence”. Domestic violence has a wide range of negative outcomes, therefore this statistic is frightening. Women who are subjected to violence often suffer from psychological, physical, and emotional trauma. In adverse cases, victims of such violence end up dead.

There are various reasons for violence against women in Nigeria, but at the root of this problem are traditions that should have long been discarded. One of them is the belief that a man is superior in all ways to a woman. From a young age, little boys are conditioned, by adults, the media, and their communities, to believe that they are better than their female counterparts. In some, this idea takes deep root and when they feel that this ‘supremacy’ of theirs is being threatened by a woman, especially one with whom they are in an intimate relationship, they turn violent.

Another twisted tradition is that women should be dependent on men. As a result of this notion, the female child is taught from a young age to endure whatever comes her way in a relationship because the man is her benefactor. As a result, women endure physical, emotional and sexual abuse with a brave face, and when they do come out and report what they are going through, they are roughly shoved aside.

What then can be done about this bleak situation?

First and foremost, erroneous traditions must be corrected. From an early age, the male child should be made to realize that he is no different from his female counterpart. He should not be overpraised for minor accomplishments that will be overlooked in a female. On the flip side, the female child should be instilled with the awareness that she was not created to suffer violence at the hands of a man, and in the case where she does find herself in such a circumstance, she should not be scared to speak out. Most importantly, society should be made aware that women who are victims of domestic violence require support, not stigmatization, and should be provided with the necessary care and rehabilitation.

Violence against women is an age-old war and with deliberate effort on all our parts, it can be drastically reduced.

Oreofe is a 17 year old feminist and believer. She writes, debates, and has stinted briefly on the radio. In her free time, she reads on anything and everything, and binge watches dramas. You can connect with Oreofe on Facebook.

Edited by Chizulu E. Uwolloh

Zulu, named after Zulu Shofola, is a writer, avid movie watcher, and self-proclaimed bibliophile. She is proud to call herself a feminist and when she’s not editing for Sisterly HQ and watching travel vlogs on YouTube, she’s trying to save the world in her own little way. Connect with Zulu on Instagram and LinkedIn

Published by Peace Solomon

Peace is a fourth year Law student at the University of Lagos. She’s the Operations Lead at Sisterly HQ. She loves creating beautiful experiences for people and making an impact.

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