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Female Inheritance: Untold Story Of The Igbo Woman

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Female children in the
eastern part of Nigeria have suffered so much neglect and exclusion from being involved in their family inheritance due to cultural beliefs and tradition of the Igbos which invariably position the women as temporary children.
They are seen and treated as less important to the family, yet when serious needs arise in the family they are looked upon for solution; the reason being that male children perpetuate the     man’s generation, unlike the woman who gets married and bears the name of her husband.
Also, a female child has no hope of inheriting from her father’s property and as such she must get married. She is deprived of even partaking from her husband’s estates in the event of his death especially if she has no male child or that her children are still very young. This is worsened by the activities of the Skylock relatives who would want to take undue advantage of her situation to have everything to themselves.
In some cases, the husband’s family arranges and marries a younger lady for the man in order to have male children and the first wife, who actually laboured with the man is relegated to the background and eventually pushed out of the house when the male child eventually comes from the other woman.
In spite of this, the Igbo woman is expected to remain in her husband’s house no matter any maltreatment meted out on her by her spouse or family members because she, as a woman, does not have a place in her father’s house. This has often brought untold suffering to most Igbo women, especially the uneducated ones.
There have been cases where women end up begging in streets or spending the rest of their lives in strange lands because they cannot go back to their fathers’ houses after being sent away by their husbands’ families.
Most women are often subjected to the widowhood tradition where they are forced to drink the bath water of their husbands’ corpses especially when they die under mysterious circumstances. They are also forced to sleep with their husbands’ corpses on the same beds during the night of the wake-keep and afterwards swear before a village shrine to prove their innocence or otherwise.
Until recently that women are taking up career jobs and can actually live independently and acquire landed property, some Igbo women were marrying men that were far older than their age while some ended up as second or third wives, just to have a home.
Recounting her story, Madam Martha in Anaocha Local Government Area of Anambra State, narrated how she was forced to leave her matrimonial home for giving birth to only female child.
Martha said that since she could not give her husband a male child after 18 years of marriage, he became hostile to her, beating her at every slight provocation, calling her names, and severally threatening to send her back to her family. Her words, “I was married to my husband for over 18 years and during these years I suffered molestation in the hands of my husband. My crime was my inability to give my husband a male child.
“At a point my husband became impatient and got married to another woman, who came in and immediately gave birth to a male child. Since that child was born my life had become a nightmare. My husband even stopped taking care of me and my daughter who is presently an undergraduate. “My husband always comes home with lots of food item, because  he works in the community only to give everything to his second wife in my presence just to make me feel bad.
“Recently, in a bid to chase me out of the house, my husband threatened to kill me with a matchet if not for the quick intervention of his kinsmen.
“The next day I reported the threat to the police and the village vigilante, where he was     forced under oath not to beat me again”.
Another sympathetic story is that of a mother of two beautiful daughters, who was denied presence at her own daughter’s traditional marriage ceremony in January 2015 for failing to give her husband male child.
The lady, who preferred to remain anonymous for fear of victimisation and threat to her life said she had suffered several harassments from her ex-husband even when she was no more     married to him. Hear her.
“My husband drove me away from our house years ago and has always threatened to harm me whenever he sees me around the community. With the steady beating and threat from him, I became ill from where I rented a room to live with my two daughters.
“When I became helpless, I contacted my family, where my sister came and took me to Onitsha for solace.
“I have two daughters that I nave single-handedly trained to be women after we were driven out of their father’s house. Unfortunately, on the day of my first daughter’s marriage, I was denied access to witness the celebration of the child I carried in my womb and gave birth to, I suffered to train them but I thank God the marriage ceremony was a success”, she sobbed.
Azuka, being the first child of her mother from a polygamous home said her mother, Madam Florence, though now late, had three daughters. Their father had houses both at home and in Port Harcourt city where they all lived till the demise of their father but her mother was denied of any of the property because she only had female children.
“Before his death in 2009, he shared his landed properties among his male children which he had with  another wife, and left nothing for my mother and her children because they are all female children.
“My father refused to share the property in Port Harcourt to anyone, saying that the resources generated from it would be used to care for his wives and his eight children.
“But after my father’s burial  my step-brother laid claim to the house with support from his sibling.
All efforts to compel my step-brother to allow us be part of the sharing of that house proved abortive.
“When my mother died we rushed to the village only for our kinsmen to tell us that my step brother must give approval before any arrangement could be made on my late mother’s, burial. At that point, I wept and wished I or any of my siblings was a male child.
Speaking on why the Igbo society do not recognise women the Parish priest of St Mary’s Catholic Church, Neni, Anaocha LGA of Anambra State, Fr Martins Anyabo, argued that the Igbos practise the Jewish tradition, where women are seen as second fiddles.
“In the first instance, the Igbos believe that they have Jewish origin. In Jewish tradition, in most cases they don’t consider women as eligible beneficiaries of their father’s heritage. In our understanding, women do not remain perm anent in their father’s house, they are married out to their spouses, so there is no reason to inherit their father’s properties any more.
“It is only problematic where a woman neither lives in her husband’s house nor in her father’s. Any  married woman should focus on her husband’s house and not think of inheriting her father’s property too”, he emphasised.
Fr. Anyabo argued that “if a married woman loses the husband, automatically she becomes the next of kin, and her husband’s property should be shared to her too. But in a case where the widow may have maltreated her husband to death, the daughters in the family (Umu-Ada) and kinsmen (Umu-Nna) may want to pay her back by denying her  the right to her husband’s properties.”
He condemned a situation where some families deny the widow her right for no just cause, saying, “It is not always good to intimidate women in their husband’s houses. Give to every woman her due right for peace to reign. For a married woman to come and struggle for her father’s properties, I do not agree to that, because it shows greed. Civilization has introduced will, in which a man (owner of the property) chooses who inherits any of his properties when he dies.” He concludes.
Today, some human rights organisations, including the International Federation of Women Lawyers, FIDA, are taking up cases of women disinheritance, fighting for women who are deprived of their rights in their husband’s house.
The founder of the Integrated Anti-Human Trafficking and Community Development Initiative (Intercom Africa), Okoye Hope Nkiruka, said, the culture of depriving female children of their father’s property has so much impoverished women in the South-East and that is why the girl-child and women are vulnerable to trafficking and other forms of abuses.
In her view, anybody still holding firm in the name of tradition or culture to this discriminatory practice against the girl-child, is irresponsible and selfish.
Barr Ifeoma Katchy, FIDA chairperson in Anambra State, explained that “FIDA Anambra State chapter has among several efforts to assuage the plight of the women, co-sponsored laws, namely the Administration of Criminal Law, 2010 of Anambra State, the Widowhood Law of the Anambra State 2005, which was signed by the former Governor Chris Nwabueze Ngige.” We also have the CEDAW, (Centre for Elimination of Discrimination Against Women), which is in line with the provisions of the procedure to the Africa Charter on the rights of women in Africa, although not yet domesticated in Nigeria, stressing that CEDA W instruments are domesticated in Anambra State, the State, through the Widowhood Law that came up subsequently.
In many cases too, the Nigerian Film Industry known as Nollywood has written and acted movies aimed at abolishing this tradition. However, how far this can go to affect the Igbo tradition is yet to be seen as the Igbos seem to hold rigidly to this tradition more than any other part of Nigeria.
Ibunge writes for National Network.

 

Blessing Ibunge

Barr. Ifeoma Katchy (Anambra FIDA) and Okoye Hope Nkiruka (Intercom Africa)

Barr. Ifeoma Katchy (Anambra FIDA) and Okoye Hope Nkiruka (Intercom Africa)

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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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‘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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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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