We are tired of cases of people maiming, beating and subjecting to hunger, or all manner of hardship, people they are obligated to love and protect. Some cases appear so bizarre that one is forced to ask if the perpetrators were actually in the right frame of mind at the time of the act.
When people talk about domestic abuse,they often focus on domestic violence. Domestic abuse has to do with any attempt by one party in an intimate relationship, or marriage, to dominate and control the other. According to Dr Humphrey Amadi of ‘ Help Guide To Mental Health And Welness’, whether abuse or violence, the purpose is basically to gain and maintain total control over the other.
An abuser uses fear, guilt and intimidation to wear down a victim and keep same under control. While abuse remains no person’s portion, it occurs across all ages, ethnic backgrounds and all social levels as well as all sexes, especially verbal or emotional.
From threat and verbal assault, an abuse could escalate to violence. Physical injury poses the most obvious danger, this is worsened by the emotional and accompanying psychological consequences.
Abusive relationships do not only lead to anxiety and depression, it also destroys self worth, leaving victims lonely and helpless. Prof. Nkem Agbaso of the Department of Guidance and Counseling, University of Uyo, once declared that ‘ no one wishes to endure such kind of pain’.
For Dr. Nikki Williams, a psychologist, when a partner becomes unussually fearful of the other, to the point of feeling like walking on egg shell around him, constantly watching what to say or do in order to avoid being attacked, it is indicative of a relationship prone to abuse.
Dr Williams enjoins couples to look out for occasions when a party in a relationship begins to despise the dignity of a mate, to the point of exerting supremacy, and a feeling of self loathing, helplessness and desperation. It could also take the form of being afraid of one’s partner, avoiding certain topics for fears of annoying a partner. She warned.
According to the psychologist, being a victim or merely witnessing a scene of domestic abuse in childhood, can turn one aggressive in life. Such behavior could as well be learned while growing up in a family with abusive parents or relatives.
It is important to note that stress and aggression occasioned by economic problems, often lead to domestic violence. A high level of unemployment contributes to the point that people quarrel in families due to lack of basic needs.
Again, alcohol and narcotics have also been fingered as factors triggering domestic abuse. Most people who are addicted to the above hardly control their abusive instinct. Unfortunately, alcohol and other related drugs are wide spreading in Nigeria, a reason why domestic abuse and violence have become common.
Even where alcohol and other drugs are in short supply, some pockets of psychological disorder as a result of long period depression, could still produce violence. This is why it is important that people care about what family members or partners in relationship go through.
Excessive suspicion, distrust and jealousy cannot be exonerated from the catalysts of domestic abuse. Most break-ups in relationship today, are courtesy of it. Above all Dr. Williams warned that whoever wishes for a lasting happy relationship, must in addition to being wary of all so- outlined, guide against anger.
Dr. Angella Amadi, a psychologist, identified physical violence amongst couples in Nigeria as most worrisome. It includes beating, slapping, rape, murder, kicking, rejecting to eat, not willing to shoulder responsibilities, and denying partners sex at will. She also identified acid baths as a form of violence which has received a lot of attention in Nigeria. Sexual violence in Nigeria largely goes unreported because of the burden of proof necessary for conviction as well as social stigma it brings. The common loss of Women’s rights upon marriage in sub-Sahara Africa and the implicit obedience and deference towards men is socially encouraged in the society.
Dr. Angella stated that infertility is a serious problem as over 40 percent of women who visited her for counseling often complain bitterly about their husbands unruly behavior in relation to infertility. The perceptions of domestic violence varies based on religion, and class. The Tivs see wife battery as a sign of love “ that should be encouraged. She said: “if you are not yet beaten by your husband, then you do know the joy of marriage, meaning you are not yet married.” All the major ethnic groups in Nigeria have a strong patriarchal societal structures that lead to justification of domestic violence as inherent right of a husband. In her study in the nation’s capital Abuja, she explained that while domestic violence is a violation of fundamental human rights which the Nigerian constitution is against, there are still provisions that tend to legalise it. The provision of the Penal code application in the Northern part of Nigeria specifically encourages violence against women. Underneath its provisions, the beating of a wife for the purpose of correction is legal by the use of (section 55 (1) (d) of the penal code.
Dr. Martins Oyeyidah, a medical consultant proffers solutions to reduce domestic abuse and violence in Nigeria. “The first step to action is to familiarize individuals and the community with the possible signs and indicators of domestic violence.” These signs can vary and do always come with physical symptoms because domestic violence is not just limited to physical attacks such as beatings. Domestic abuse also affects every level and demography in society. So there is no typical victim despite the stereotypes. Someone who may not appear to be a victim of domestic violence may well be suffering in silence.
Nigerian women should rise to the occasion and support the home by engaging in activities that will bring productivity in the home. More than one-third of women and one in 10 men have experienced intimate partner violence in their life time, according to the National intimate partner and sexual violence survey.
Sometimes violence begins early in a relationship and other times it takes months or years to appear. It could be the jealous type, being jealous of your friends or time you spent outside.
“The lack of discussions of domestic issues creates a space in which an ostensibly socially unacceptable behaviour becomes allowable and even common place. Because conversations about domestic violence are off limit. Many women do not share abuse incidents with anyone. The taboo surrendering domestic violence discussion and accurate data reporting. It will be necessary to remove the stigma around domestic violence”, Dr Martins maintained.
He further suggested that this can be achieved through the creation of government -sponsored community programmes that directly address physical and psychological violence.
Mr. Frank Domino, a psychologist at a health Centre in Rumuigbo, Port Harcourt, observed social structure as the disparate status between men and women, as men have higher status in Nigeria than women. He stated that women should break out of traditionally engrained gender roles and expectations. With an increased sense of status, Nigerian women will no longer be bound to expected roles acquiescence. Given a voice, women will be able to challenge the established differences in status between men and women.
Igbe is a Freelancer in Port Harcourt.
COVID-19: Be Creative In Foods, Others’ Packaging, Women
Women have been admonished to be creative and begin to do proper packaging of foods and other household consumables and products for sales in the markets or to targeted customers in order to attract good patronage, especially at this critical time when the novel Coronavirus is ravaging the world.
They were also told that they would only attract customers and get constant calls for home deliveries if they observe best practices, and ensure that due protocols in personal hygiene were adhered to at all times.
Speaking during a recent programme organised by Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre, in Port Harcourt, the Permanent Secretary, Rivers State Ministry of Women Affairs, Mrs Uche Chukwu said that part of ways to cushion the sufferings of women, especially those that were bread-winners was for them to do proper product sales packaging in efforts to boost market penetration and increase customer confidence.
Chukwu stressed that women were most hit by the COVID-19 lockdown because they form the bulk of traders and small business owners, saying that following the shutdown of most markets across the country, women were facing severe stress in meeting their expectations and needs, just as their revenue earnings have plummeted.
She regretted that most devastated by the lockdown were those, who were not ready to explore other means of survival, and were not ready to tap into their creative and innovative skills to design new ways of adapting to meet their customers’ changing demands and expectations, emphasising that with proper sales packaging, no woman would be affected by the COVID-19 lockdown.
Chukwu advised women managing restaurants, food-is-ready, or food vendors in markets and shops to take full advantage of the lockdown to expand their network of customers or delve into other meaningful ventures to feed their families.
While listing some of the ventures they can delve into as cooking of all kinds of food, production of hand sanitisers, soaps, face masks, and other household items, added that, “with a sachet of Hypo mixed with detergent, hand sanitiser can be made.”
The permanent secretary further explained that the hand sanitiser can be used for washing of hands, mopping of floors as well as wiping of doors, windows, and cleaning of tables, among others, adding that women should not dwell on the challenges, but device ways out of the situation in order to be able to put food on the table for their children.
The woman activist stressed that women were psychologically prepared to package foods properly at home, and smartly distribute and sell same to those in dire need without flaunting the COVID-19 lockdown regulations.
She said: “Women must engage in other meaningful ventures during this period of COVID-19 lockdown in order to avoid harassment and abuse by security operatives deployed to enforce the law. It is too painful to hear that women are being de-humanised by police officers, but there is nothing women activists and groups can do when they flaunt COVID-19 lockdown law.
“There are high demands now on hand sanitisers and face masks. Women should make proper use of this opportunity to think outside the box and start preparing hand sanitisers and cook neatly packaged food for sale since there is hunger all over the land. Those who cannot cook good food can use their money to place orders from others who are endowed for home delivery without violating COVID-19 regulations,” she stressed.
Earlier, the Executive Director, Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre, Mrs Emem Okon, had stressed the need for the centre to mainstream COVID-19 into its programme of activities.
Okon added that by so doing, the centre would be able to address some of the immediate and long-term needs of the people of Rivers State, stressing that the government alone cannot do everything for the people.
By: Susan Serekara-Nwikhana
COVID-19: Women Front And Centre
One thing is clear about the COVID-19 pandemic, as stock markets tumble, schools and universities close, people stockpile supplies and home becomes a different and crowded space: this is not just a health issue. It is a profound shock to our societies and economies, exposing the deficiencies of public and private arrangements that currently function only if women play multiple and underpaid roles.
With children out of school, mothers at home may still work, but many have also become teachers and caregivers, with consequences for those previously employed in those roles. For the 8.5 million women migrant domestic workers, often on insecure contracts, income loss also affects their dependents back at home. As schools close in more countries, the number of mothers facing this across the world rises and the consequences accumulate.
By the middle of March there were 207,855 confirmed cases in 166 countries, areas or territories. Without data that is disaggregated by sex, however, these numbers give us only part of the story of the impact on women and men. We need far more sex-disaggregated data to tell us how the situation is evolving, including on differing rates of infection, differential economic impacts, differential care burden, and incidence of domestic violence and sexual abuse.
Even without this, experience from previous major epidemics points us to specific strengths and vulnerabilities that we can look out for and be proactive to safeguard. Where governments or businesses put income protection in place, this can ease these dilemmas, sustain incomes and avoid driving households into poverty. This response must also include those in the informal economy, where most women who work outside home make their livelihood. Such social protection is best directed specifically to women.
The 2014-16 Ebola outbreak in the West African countries provide essential, gendered public health and socioeconomic lessons. Women in those outbreaks were exposed to both health and economic risks, as they are again now, in ways intrinsically connected with their roles in the community and responsibilities as caregivers within the home and family.
For example, both Ebola and Zika infections are potentially catastrophic for pregnant women. Yet during both previous outbreaks, access to family planning services were very limited, and pregnant and lactating women were excluded from vaccination against the viruses. This underlines the importance of sustained maternal health services to avoid a resurgence of birth-related deaths, and equal access for women to the development and use of all medical products including vaccines once produced.
This is a moment for governments to recognize both the enormity of the contribution women make and the precarity of so many. This includes a focus on sectors where women are over-represented and underpaid, such as daily wage earners, small business owners, those working in cleaning, caring, cashiering and catering sectors and in the informal economy.
Globally, women make up 70 per cent of frontline workers in the health and social sector, like nurses, midwives, cleaners and laundry workers. We need mitigation strategies that specifically target both the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on women and that support and build women’s resilience, as we saw in Liberia and elsewhere. And to make those responses as well designed as possible, women should be fully engaged in their creation, be priority recipients of aid, and partners in building the longer-term solutions.
We are learning more every day from the arc of the pandemic in China. We have been working closely there with country leadership as part of the UN collective response. Joint campaigns have reached 1 billion people, with communications that raise awareness through public health information, combat stigma and discrimination, reflect women’s specific needs, promote women’s leadership and contributions and develop recovery plans that link equality, health and the economy.
All of us engaged in this effort, whether public or private sector, need to take a coordinated, people-centred approach to rapidly building health system capacity in both developed and developing countries, making a conscious effort to put women front and centre. For example, creating better access to appropriate personal protective equipment for home-based caregivers, and removing obstacles to their work, by promoting flexible working arrangements, and ensuring supplies of menstrual hygiene products. These needs are even more important for areas under lockdown or quarantine. So too are considerations of gender-based violence that are exacerbated by these conditions, but may not receive the attention they need, in the drive to respond to the pandemic.
Violence against women is already an epidemic in all societies, without exception. Every day, on average, 137 women are killed by a member of their own family. We also know that levels of domestic violence and sexual exploitation spike when households are placed under the increased strains that come from security, health and money worries, and cramped and confined living conditions. We see this frequently among displaced populations in crowded refugee camps; and reported domestic violence has tripled recently in some countries practising social distancing.
COVID-19 provides us with an opportunity for radical, positive action to redress long-standing inequalities in multiple areas of women’s lives. There is scope for not just endurance, but recovery and growth. I ask governments and all other service providers including the private sector to take this opportunity to plan their response to COVID-19 as they have never done before, and fully take a gender perspective into account, proactively building gender expertise into response teams and embedding gender dimensions within response plans. For example, include surge funding for women’s shelters so they can provide for women who need to escape violent relationships, and aim economic support and bail outs specifically at retail sectors, hospitality and small businesses where women are predominantly employed on precarious contracts, if any, and are most vulnerable to forced cost-saving.
Rape, Assault Allegation: NAWOJ Wants Unbiased Investigation
The Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) has called on the Kogi State Government to ensure accelerated and unbiased investigation of the alleged act of assault and rape committed by the state’s Commissioner for Water Resources, Mr Abdumumuni Danga.
The association made the call in a statement signed by its National President, Mrs Ifeyinwa Omowole, in Abuja, and made available to The Tide, last Monday
It would be recalled that in a video, which had gone viral on social media recently, a beauty queen, Elizabeth Oyeniyi, alleged that Danga abducted, assaulted and forcefully had sex with her over a Facebook post.
According to the victim, she had earlier appealed to the commissioner to assist his family member, who is also a friend of the victim, on her Facebook wall in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.
Oyeniyi, however, explained that the commissioner got enraged with the post and ordered some boys to pick her and his sister from Okene to Lokoja where the commissioner personally flogged them and raped her.
She further alleged that her phone was smashed and the commissioner intimidated her to recant her Facebook claims through a make-believe video in which she apologised and spoke nicely of him.
Although, the state governor has reportedly suspended the commissioner and ordered an investigation into the matter, human rights organisations, civil society groups, including the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), have all called for justice.
However, NAWOJ in its statement, urged Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, to ensure that objective and unbiased investigation is carried out promptly on the allegation and the accused adequately punished, if found guilty.
“While the media is awash with false information that the commissioner had been suspended, NAWOJ reliably learnt that the commissioner was yet to be suspended and no punishment had been meted out to him.
“Although a probe has been initiated by the state Governor, Yahaya Bello, NAWOJ wishes to urge the panel and the governor to fast-track the probe and not unduly delay it.
“It is worthy of note that many days after this allegation, the said commissioner is yet to deny the allegation against him, pointing to the fact that he may be guilty as alleged.
“NAWOJ also notes that although the victim has already indicated interest to seek legal redress, the onus still lies on the state government, if it is not complicit, to take a decisive action against the erring commissioner.
“Governor Yahaya Bello must take a clear stance to be against violence and assault on women by taking a decisive action against the commissioner, an action that would serve as a deterrent to others with similar traits,” the statement read in part.
The association, therefore, called on the state governor to ensure that the accused is made to step-down as a public office holder so that he does not intimidate the victim or her family.
It added that other women groups and lawyers would be rallied to ensure that Oyeniyi gets justice.
“We can no longer have people in authority who should be custodians of the law breaking same laws with impunity and yet attempting to hold onto supposedly honourable positions,” it stated.
Stories by Susan Serekara-Nwikhana
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