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Challenges Of Childless Women In Nigeria

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Isioma Edward

 

 

There comes a time in life when one has to face certain  hurdles that life thrusts on him or her; a time when one has to  contend with the reality of human existence. Experience has shown that if you have not worn the same shoe with those who are beclouded with setbacks at a point in their life, you may not be able to empathize with them; “for he who wears the shoe knows where it pinches.” One of the problems with which those in any kind of predicament are plagued is that they are, more often than not, left in their own world. In other words, they are not always given commensurate ‘ consolation which their situation at that point in time requires. The enormity of the pain or whatever they experience within their inner being . is not always known to others save those who perhaps, have undergone similar experience.

We are living in a society where childless women or those who are yet to give birth are not only jeered at, but also made to realize that they do not essentially belong to the womenfolk. The throbbing of the fruitlessness of their marriage is not so much because they are yet to be blessed with children, but more so because of their placement in the society, especially in their immediate community. The implication is that many people are either oblivious of the fact that children are blessing from God or that they have been blindfolded by haughtiness. It is a further demonstration that some persons delight in the misfortune of others, and would want to show that they are more favoured than the rest of mankind.

Specifically, however, every woman wants to be called a mother, not in the sense of being an elderly woman, but in the sense of being actual  mother. Once this aspiration is not immediately met as at when due, especially few months after marriage, unmitigated anxiety sets in. This sort of fruitfulness is consequent upon the misunderstanding of the real  purpose for which marriage was instituted. This is addition to the fact that it is not in the hands of man to give children. Children are gifts from God. It is with this understanding that we  attempt to x-ray fundamental issues in childlessness in marriage, especially as it affects Nigerian women.

CHILDLESSNESS IN THE SCRIPTURE:      The Old Testament Understanding;      

The history of Israel is that of a people who were always under the protective hand of God; a people who were saturated with God’s blessing. Fertility of the womb was thus considered essential part of God promises and as such, it was of paramount importance to the life of Israel. On the other hand, childlessness was regarded as a contradiction to these promises of God; for it is believed to be walking against the plan of God for his chosen people. This was evident in the life of Abraham, when his wife Sarah, could not give birth for a considerable length of time after God had promised that he would be the father of multitude of nations. Sarah’s infertility at that point in time was a stumbling block to the actualization of this wonderful plan of God. This makes childlessness an evil that must be combated.

Fundamentally, the Old Testament considers childlessness as an evil that must be struggled against. Xavier Leon- Dufour observes that sterility goes against the command, of the creator who desires fruitfulness and life. This is obviously the mentality of the people of Israel. Like the typical African society, the people of Israel believed that not to have one’s name survived is a sign of shame, and perhaps, failure in life. This explains why Abraham questioned God thus: “What does my adopted servant matter, if I perish without children.” In the same vein, Sarah felt despised by the fruitful servant woman, and would not see herself as worth anything before her. Many persons in this state of life actually feel much less important before those whose marriages are fruitful. Others like Rachel who said to her husband: “Give me child or I die”   believe that it is better to die than to remain childless. But if one understands that it is God that bestows or denies motherhood, just as             Jacob responded to his wife Rachel, one would come to the realization that there is more to marriage life than procreation.”

From the responses of Jacob, it is patently obvious that it is God that gives or denies fruitfulness in marriage. The sacred writer(s) of the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy tend to show that it is reserved to God alone to conquer childlessness in marriage, and he never failed to manifest his omnipotence in this regard. It goes without saying that the only task onus on man is complete trust and dependence on God who  gives generously to whomever he chooses. However, the kind of struggle against childlessness prevalent in the Old Testament was the practice of allowing another woman either a slave or free citizen to take the place of the real wife and beget children on her behalf. This was what Sarah and Rachel did to their husbands. But the type of battle one is required to wage on sterility in marriage is that of patient waiting in prayer and absolute trust and confidence in God: for prophet Habakkuk says: “Even if it delays, wait for it, for surely it will come” It is instructive to note that the ancestors of Israel were born of women who were childless in their marriage until their ripe old age. It goes to portray the omnipotence of God: that nothing is impossible for him and that he has the power to do whatever he wills.

Childlessness In The New Testament

The New Testament gives us the account of the life of Elizabeth who was believed to be sterile until God’s miraculous intervention at her old age. It is a demonstration that there is no impossibility in the sight of God. More importantly, it is from this woman who was considered to be barren, came the one who the scripture describes as the greatest of all men born of woman. It is pertinent to note also, that the story of Elizabeth is much similar to that of Hannah, who earnestly prayed to God to open her womb after many years of barrenness; “because the Lord had closed her womb.” Samuel, the prophet and the seer, who anointed the first ‘ling of Israel was the fruit of her patient waiting on the Lord in prayer. Though man is commanded to be fruitful and multiply in Genesis account of creation, Jesus in the New Testament teaches that some are made childless, fruitless or eunuchs either by nature (if they are born so), by men or by themselves for the sake of the kingdom. Similarly, St. Paul in one of his epistles writes that it is good to remain childless, especially those who were not given .in marriage. In other words, it is worthwhile, in fact, a gift to be single. By this, Paul means that not all are meant to be fruitful as in having one’s name survived; for the unmarried are concerned with the Lord’s affairs. Thus, the New Testament understanding is that childlessness could be a vocational call to single life. On the other hand, the story of Elizabeth shows that childlessness within marriage contradicts God’s plan and promises, though he could closed any womb only to open it at the appointed time for his own glory.

Edward contributed this piece from Port Harcourt.

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Women

Sustaining The Juice In Your Marriage 

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Almost every marriage starts out as a huge celebration. With family and friends around them, every couple  steps into marriage relationship full of hopes and dreams for their future life together. However, beyond the euphoria that greets the initial coming together, how many makes it to the end, has remained a puzzle, not many could solve probably because the road to a happy marriage is one far from being easy.  Going by  today’s divorce statistics , many couples opt not to complete the journey.
Behind every lasting relationship, love is not excluded. They also do things each day to show their love. Showing your partner that you care does not require anything special or out of the ordinary. It can be as simple as doing a thoughtful act of service or really listening when they have something important to say. Keeping a relationship going for a long time is about so much more than just being compatible. At some point, conflicts will arise and you will have to make a decision between working through it or calling it a day.
However, for Chief and Chief (Mrs) Ikechukwu  Okonkwo Ogabu, they owe their happy relationship of 30 years to boundless love.. It seems like such a simple step. “Unconditional” indeed. This means that no matter how big the argument, or how huge the disagreement, love makes the bond what while. And navigating through thick and thin is made possible.
As they marked their 30th marriage anniversary a few days back,  one could but congratulate the couple for their resilience against failure.  Certainly, such feat in marriage relationship could not have been without obvious challenges purported to frustrate partners but the ability to surmount such distractions calls for celebration.
Chief (Mrs) Okonkwo Ogabu, a former chairman of Nigeria Association of Women Journalists, NAWOJ, Rivers State, and currently, the Deputy National President of the same body, recounts that marriage is never a bed of roses.  It is a very challenging venture especially in Africa where marriage goes beyond the nuclear family to include extended family members.  And the husband and most importantly wife must have to put up with these extended family members.
Married  at very young age without  a grasp of  the intricacies of marriage,  she did not only realize with time that  marriage was not only sweet but was also tasking especially with the arrival of children.
Love she confessed was the reason she could remain resolute to her vow, stating that “When you love, you can forgive. Love is the greatest!, Love makes it easy to let go errors”. For her challenges come in diverse ways, hence the need to persevere
This  mother of 4 and  grandmother of 1, who anchored her strength in God and family love, (the will to protect my children too),  advises younger couples to love and cherish their  partner, by so doing they can easily tolerate flaws, avoid going into relationship based on material things, as this stands the risk of back firing at the long run. She did not forget the place of forgiveness in marriage relationship.
Mrs Okonkwo-Ogabu remains eternally appreciative to her Husband, Chief Ikechukwu Ogabu for being supportive of her career and life’s endeavour. She enjoins all men to emulate him
According to marriage counsellors, a marriage lasts better when partners are ready to work and walk through conflict. It would be unfair to say that couples who have been together for a long time don’t argue. They do, but they just have a better way of dealing with it.
It would be easy to blame our high rate of marital failure on things like not spending enough quality time together, allowing bitterness and resentment to build in our hearts and failing to keep communication lines open. There’s no end to books, articles and seminars that tell you how to improve these and many other aspects of your relationship. But while quality time, forgiveness and communication are vitally important to creating a happy marriage, if such things aren’t happening, it’s usually a sign of a much deeper problem. And until this problem is addressed, no amount of external behavior modification will work.
Some couples would say It’s great when your partner respects your time and lets you do your thing, but at some point, you need to make the effort to protect your time together. If you keep cancelling plans, you might soon discover that you are living with a housemate rather than a partner. Make time for date night every now and then, no matter how busy your lives get.
Experiencing new things together is one of the best things you can do to keep a relationship alive. Push yourself out of your comfort zone to discover new things. It could be travelling to a new place, or exploring new territory in the bedroom. Pick up a new couple friendly sex toy from Pleasure Delights and discover a new side of your partner.
After watching Olu Jacob’s receiving his prestigious award, three things came on my mind:
Sex alone does not keep marriage going. Friendship and companionship keeps marriage going. The body will eventually get old and you won’t have the urge for it. The children you train will eventually, leave and build their home It will get to a stage, It will just be you and your partner. What will make it fun is the friendship. You gist together, play together, pray together and many more.

By: Sylvia ThankGod-Amadi

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Women

‘It Is Time To End Violence Against Women’

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While pervasive, gender-based violence may seem to appear inevitable in our own clime, African Women Lawyers, Rivers State Chapter, believe that it can and must be prevented. To them, stopping this violence starts with believing survivors, adopting comprehensive and inclusive approaches that tackle the root causes, transforming harmful social norms, and empowers women and girls.
With women and girls living in danger around the world owing to conflict, climate-related natural disasters, food insecurity and human rights violations, which in turn exacerbate violence against women, this great body of women lawyers have decided to raise their voice against all shades of violence against women whether it be domestic or official
In pursuant of their aims and objectives, AWLA commemorate land mark dates set by the African Union and United Nations to raise awareness about the plight of women and children.
As the world engages in 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, the body avails itself the opportunity to highlight some violent and of course harmful practices Nigerian women are continually subjected to, as well as condemn such and create the awareness among the populace that perpetrators of such inhumane acts on a folk that deserves and desires protection in all spheres, will receive a bang of the law.
This year, AwLA is using the window provided by the United Nations via the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, to contribute their own quota especially as it relates to condemning in concrete terms, societal practices that run foul to the healthy development of the women.
Activities outlined in commemorate of the 2021 version of the 16 days of activisms against gender based violence include; advocacy and sensitization visits to Khana Local Government and Oginigba in  Obio/Akpor Local Government on 26th and 30th November respectively while free legal clinic takes place in Port Harcourt Local Government on 29th of November.
While the program lasts, stakeholders are expected to brainstorm on how to solve the challenges faced by women, while women will be enlightened on their right as well as be sensitized on how to seek redress.
In a chat with The Tide woman Editor, Sylvia ThankGod-Amadi, the Coordinator of the African Women Lawyers Association, Hilda Desmond-Ihekaire, said her association is quite proactive on issues that bother on women and children’s rights.
She encouraged women to speak out against injustice meted on them by people who are supposed to protect their interest, stating that the era of accepting every awkward treatment against them is over. She enjoined them to avail themselves the opportunity of the free legal clinic provided at this season to vent out their grievances.
The AWLA coordinator revealed that her association is already handling matters of gender based violence in court at the moment and would stop at nothing until the public comes to appreciate that women are also human that should not be treated unjustly.
AWLA is a group of women lawyers with the aim and objective of protecting the right and interest of women and children in Africa. They do this through multi facetted approach, using advocacy, sensitization campaign and probono litigation services on women and children’s issues
16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign to challenge violence against women and girls. The campaign runs every year from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day.

By: Sylvia ThankGod-Amadi

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Women

NAWOJ Moves To Check Violence Against Women, Girls … Seeks More Action, Resources

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Chairman, Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Rivers State Chapter, Susan Serekara-Nwikhana, has called for strengthened actions and resources to address violence against women and girls in the society.
Speaking to newsmen in Port Harcourt, yesterday, November 25, 2021 to commemorate this year’s 16-Days of Activism, with the theme: ‘Orange the world: End Violence Against Women Now’, the Chairman, NAWOJ, Rivers State Chapter stated that violence against women and girls reached pandemic proportion especially during the COVID-19 hit that resulted to lockdown.
Serekara stressed that as lockdown measures were implemented to stop the spread of the coronavirus, violence against women, domestic violence intensified as school closures and economic strains left women and girls poorer, out of school and out of jobs, making them more vulnerable to exploitation, abuse, forced marriage, and harassment.
“We believe  that ending violence against women will require strengthened actions by the government through more investment in women and girls,” she said, regretting that formal reports of domestic violence have decreased, yet survivors find it harder to seek help and access support through the regular channels. She further noted that the 16 days of activism is an expression that gender-based violence though not inevitable, can and must be prevented.
“While gender-based violence can happen to anyone, anywhere, some women and girls are particularly vulnerable – for instance, young girls  and teenage girls who are employed as house helps . Violence against women continues to be an obstacle to achieving equality, development, peace as well as to the fulfillment of women and girls’ human rights,” Serekara added.

By: Susan Serekara-Nwikhana

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