By Obo Effanga
As the world celebrates this year’s International Women’s Day and some churches celebrate Mother’s Day, the following persons should shut up and not pretend to celebrate womanhood: The rapist and those who blame the rape victim as causing her predicament because of what she wore. Pray, how do infants (two years and below) dress to attract a rapist? The father (and any other man) who rapes her daughter and other family members (even if no one else is aware of your crime/sin). The woman (and man) of the house who uses physical and psychological torture and violence on their housemaids, even if on Sunday, they will go ‘waving holy hands’ and ululate in church. The charllatan who wears the garb of religion, yet violates hapless women in the name of ‘spiritual cleansing’.
The woman, who insists that another (woman (possibly her daughter or sister-in-law) go through the ‘widowhood’ rites including physical and mental torture to prove that she truly mourns the death of her spouse or was not responsible for the death should never celebrate womanhood. The in-laws who deprive a widow from keeping the property left behind by her late husband and justify it on ‘tradition’. The family members and leaders of religious faiths who pretend that violence against women do not exist among their highly ‘spirit-filled’ members and when such is reported they treat it with levity and encourage the woman to go back and live with it, thus exposing her to more violence and ultimately death.
The legislators who keep playing politics and fail to pass the Violence Against Persons Bill, yet are quick to pass other less urgent and non-life-threatening bills. The businesses and business leaders who put young female marketing staff in harms’ way through unrealistic ‘targets’ and don’t give a damn about how they achieve such targets. The law enforcement officer who dismisses reported cases of violence against a woman as ‘family matter’ and interrogates the woman as to what she did to her husband to warrant the attack, even suggesting that she may have been rude or failed to fix him a meal.
The husband who holds the wife captive through violence or threat thereof; deprivation; physical, mental and psychological torture. The citizen who looks the other way when issues of violence against women are mentioned because they think it is “other people’s problem” or asks, “is that the problem of Nigeria?” Oh, actually, it is a problem of Nigeria! And for the rest of you out there with no skeletons in your cupboard, Happy Women’s Day!
Obo Effanga is at Actionaid Nigeria, blogs here.