In the Midst of Gender Based Violence, We Choose to Rise
By Halima Ummi Ismail
AREWA AGENDA – Gender based violence is a global issue faced by people regardless of sex. However, women and girls are usually prone to be the victims of gender based violence. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 3 women have experienced physical or sexualized violence in their lifetime. This excludes verbal, emotional and financial abuse.
Although violence against women and girls can affect anyone regardless of race, religion or socio-economic background, certain group of women are vulnerable to violence, these include young girls, those living with disabilities and so on. Women and girls are also exposed to violence both in rural areas and in the cities, and in public places. Gender based violence can take different forms, such as domestic violence, sexual harassment, molestation, rape and women trafficking to mention a few. Despite being widespread, cases of these violence goes unreported because women in various societies have accepted it as a private affair which should not be heard about as it degrades a woman’s status. Some cultures accept violence against women as a normal practice and the victims of such violence are usually blamed and stigmatized by the society. Other cultures considers it a taboo for women to complain or report cases of gender based violence.
There are various reasons for the increasement of gender based violence, these includes cultural and social norms, lack of access to justice, and lack of financial and economic opportunities which makes the victims of gender based violence dependent on their abusers.
Some cultures indicates the dominant and controlling power of men, with women being considered subordinates to men, while other cultures encourages domestic violence in marriages because as far as their customs and practices are concerned, the man is the owner of his wife and children once he has paid her bride price.
The lack of access to justice is also a major reason for the increasing number of gender based violence. Most unreported cases of violence go unpunished. This makes it harder for women to report such cases since they can barely get justice from the appropriate authority.
Gender based violence usually has it effects on the victims. Women who are victims of rape and molestation do end up with physical effect and health issues such as bleeding, unwanted pregnancy, and Sexually Transmitted Diseases(STD). Victims of domestic violence also end up with internal bleedings, broken bones, head injuries and much more.
The psychological effect of violence against women cannot be overlooked. Most victims of violence suffer from depression, stress, fear and anxiety. They usually end up feeling guilty and are subsequently subjected to abuse and criticism. Some end up with mental disorders, subsequent nightmares, and startle response.
Children who are born into a family where domestic violence is in subsequent occurrence do suffer from psychological disorders. They do end up with emotional and behavioural problems which do result into aggressiveness, anxiety, feelings of insecurity and hopelessness. The male children who witness such violence may end up being inculcated with such behaviours and this leads to an increase of violence against women. These symptoms continues for a long span of time, thereby affecting the lives of the victims.
Women are considered vulnerable and powerless but that is not the case. In the midst of this vulnerability lies the strength of women. Because we are being degraded and judged by a shallower set of standard, do we fall back and accept these things as a part and parcel of us, or are we to profer solutions to our problems?. These are questions we need to ask ourselves as women.
Women are powerful and strong beings, women serve as a means of empowerment for the society, women are pacesetters, women are warriors who do not give up upon their battles, and no matter the situation, we are not the types to give up and let things be just the way they are, women are made to speak up whenever there is a need to.
Women and girls who are victims of violence should not hold themselves responsible for such violence, as violence is the sole act of the perpetrator/s who must be held responsible and accountable according to the appropriate legislatios. The threat or fear of violence must not serve as a barrier for women. No matter the circumstances, we should choose to rise and realize our full potentials, we should live our lifes fully, without giving up.
Women should not accept gender based violence and decide to live with it as a normal phenomenon. Women should not be afraid of speaking up when they have to, regardless of what the society has to say, as long as you are on the right track then you need to keep pushing through.
Victims of domestic violence who are financially dependent on the perpetrators of such violence, usually find it hard to leave as a result of lack of income. Although this is not going to be an easy decision, I am of the opinion that no matter her financial status, a woman should leave whenever there is a need to do so and look for other alternatives. On no account should a woman retreat to jungle justice if she is a victim of domestic violence. Rather than taking laws into our hands, we should come together to enforce our rights using the appropriate means of enforcing those rights.
In the long run, we all have a duty to carry out. We all can actively contribute to the fight against gender based violence. We are not to allow violent practices define our personalities. Rather than succumbing to violent practices that demises our strength, we should seek the strength that exist within us, while recognizing our values. We should empower the young ones appropriately. Societal issues should not define us, and that way we would rise to curb the menace in our societies.
Halima Ummi Ismail is a Law student from Bayero University, Kano. She is an advocate of Women and Children’s Right.
She can be contacted via email: [email protected]
Arewa Agenda is a Publication of Young Writers from Northern Nigeria towards Peaceful Coexistence and National Development through positive narratives