Over the years, women have been objects of abuses both physical and sexual. They have been undermined, misused, maltreated, mal-handled and treated as objects of sex rather than humans who ought to be treated with respect and dignity.
Every woman has had sexual remark or gesture from their male counterpart at a particular stage of their live and 30% of women and girls from age 15-49 have been victims of sexual abuse/violence.
The United Nations defines violence against women as any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.
The most common acts of violence against women include sexual harassment, physical violence, harmful traditional practices, emotional and psychological violence, socio-economic violence and violence against non-combatant women in conflict situation.
The female gender has faced lots of challenges and adverse laws and practices from time immemorial. From the killing of twins, to the drinking of water used to bath their dead husbands corpse, to the slave trade era where they were touch and raped indiscriminately, to being domestic helps in recent times, where they get insulted, disrespect, mistreated by their “Madams” and most times abused sexually and physically by their supposed “ogas”. The corporate world is not exempted from this practice as well. Women in business and careers have to work double and harder to be able to compete with their male counterparts; women are never taken seriously in meetings except their ideas are validated by their male colleagues; women get stigmatized and even body-shamed at their work places and most times, when they ask for their rights of being promoted, they get asked for “transactional sex”, and their only crime is “being a woman”. A woman cannot sit in a room full of men and not get a sexual remark or even get slapped in the face with an inferiority complex.
In recent times, gender based violence has grown at a really alarming rate. In March and April respectively, for 23 out of 36 states in Nigeria, research shows a monthly increase of 149% in reports of gender based violence following the introduction of lock-down at the end of March. In Lagos, Ogun state and the FCT, which were placed under total lock-down by the Federal Government, it is reported that domestic violence cases rose from 60 in March to 238 in April, an increase of 297%.
Daily Trust, on 6th of June 2020, stated that 65 cases of rape had been reported from January 2020 to June 2020. Still in the course of the year, cases surged upon the internet which caused a great sensation in the country. The case of rape and murder of Vera Uwala Omozuwa in Benin, in a church; the case of 18 year old Barakat Bello in Ibadan who was raped to death; the 13-year old Elizabeth Ochanya Ogbanje who was a victim of her guardian’s criminal tendency; and the 12-year old girl gang-raped by 12-men in Katsina.
It is disheartening to know that the above cases are just a fragment as most cases go unreported on a daily basis across the country.
Over the years, Human rights and Civil rights groups have come together, holding campaigns, speaking up for women, encouraging them to speak up and stand up for themselves as well as empowering them. But what is a fragment of people compared to the whole?
An African Proverb goes “if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together”. The time has come for women to be respected and treated right. The time to include women in Nation building, business and enterprises, the time to speak up, educate, empower and enlighten the female gender. When women are educated and in their right minds, the economy thrives, nation building becomes easy, society is better, children are healthier, life expectancy increases and the world at large is a better place for all.
The girl child deserves better, deserves to live, deserves to be respected and held in high esteem, together we can build the future.