Once upon a time as a child, I saw quite a number of women violated under different conditions and it looked like the order of the day including the ones I hold dear to myself. I grew up with a lot of questions in mind and anger towards my sex because at the time it felt more like a curse than blessing until I started discovering how resourceful I can be as a woman through the power of education in conjunction with books and talks by people and now I’ve done more than embrace my gender but I love who I am. I was angry at the system that encourages this violence, I saw women go through suffering and smiling syndrome just because they couldn’t talk due to the sensitivity of the matter, stigma, societal norms and taboo. I’ve read on and heard of cases of rape, beating, mental assaults and how much women have been looked down on but I believe in a better future if we all fight it now. It’s time to put an end to violence against women and save the coming generation from the psychological effects these traumas cause either as the victim or as the child of the victim.
According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, Violence is defined as the use of physical force to harm someone, to damage property, etc.
WHO (2002), Violence is defined as “the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, mal-development, or deprivation”.
The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women also defines Violence against women (VAW) as “a violation of human rights and a form of discrimination against women and shall mean all acts of gender-based violence that results in, physical, sexual, psychological or economic harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life”. VAW can therefore be said to be any violation of a woman’s personhood, mental or physical integrity, or freedom of movement through individual acts and societal oppression. It cuts across all the ways our society objectifies and oppresses women. Violence against Women has been noted to occur in every country of the world, rich and poor, stable and in conflict, and affects most women and girls, regardless of their age or socio-economic status (UNIFEM, 2010). Being a product of a dysfunctional marriage myself and in conjunction with learning from the experiences of a couple of women in my immediate community and the society at large has helped shaped my perceptions and also created in me the zeal to speak for women and children from such homes or with violent experience(s) with the quest to seek solutions that are applicable. I discovered overtime that violence against women and girls is an extreme manifestation of gender inequality and also a systemic gender-based discrimination. Women’s right to live freely of violence depends on the protection of their human rights and a strong chain of justice. Rape, domestic violence, gender-based discrimination, incest, intimidation at work, female genital mutilation, female infanticide, forced marriage, sexual harassment, forced abortion, beating, forced prostitution, coercive use of contraceptives, mental assault and a couple of others are examples of the most spread acts of violence against women.
Furthermore, violence against women (VAW) is known to be deeply intertwined into society so much that many of the victims have been made to see it as their fault. You could easily relate this in the context of rape, like in most women, the idea of rape has always been a part of the natural environment and this has been something to fear or pray against right from the early ages of being a girl. Questions have never been asked as to reasons “why men rape but women have been conformed to think of rape as one of human nature mysteries?”. As a result of lessons learnt from the experiences gathered from my mum and other women, I discovered that most problems that leads to these violence includes;
– Inadequate legal protection for the victims. The perpetrators mostly feel they can’t be punished by the law.
– The perpetrators believe they can do whatever they want and get away with it especially in cases of close relatives or friends.
– Change in values of the parties (victim and perpetrator) involved in the violence.
– Poor economy; The economic hardship has caused serious trauma for some people so much that it affects their psychological and sociological behavior.
– For some men, it is just male chauvinism. They feel they are right every time and see no reason why a woman should speak her mind or question their opinions, when a woman does that around them, they feel insulted and switch to violence.
– Insecurities around a woman who seems to be better than the man or low self-esteem is another problem I know causes violence against women. Some men gets easily intimidated by a woman who is more successful than they are.
– The shame or discrimination that has been attached to voicing out experiences like that by the society to the victims thereby making the victims endure what can be avoided and deprive themselves of their individual rights.
– Some perpetrators resort to violence as a result of being abused when young too and grew up an angry adult. This could either be because they experienced violence as a child in their home or their heart was broken by their loved ones.
The Panacea will be discussed in Part 2.
Thanks for such a long read. . .