There are just so many activities that go on in and around the girl child’s body. Everyone is screaming “violence”, some, even “vawulence”. But on a more serious note, the female gender is arguably an endangered species.
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From issues of sexual exploitation to psychological abuse, forced/child marriage and genital mutilation, the girl child has always been victimized. It is, however, not enough to call out the male folks or even women that victimize fellow women, the question is, what can be done to stop this menace.
According to the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women issued by the UN General Assembly in 1993, violence against women can be referred to as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”
Today, we mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. What precise actions will be taken to ensure that violence against women is totally eliminated, or at least, drastically reduced? Is it our culture and traditions that subject women? Is it even religion? Before we even look at how to eliminate this catastrophe, we should know the roots.
Some scholars have attributed violence against women to the evolutionary theory which dissects the origin of the male and female behavioural patterns. One of the provisions of the theory is that the male gender finds it difficult to get a female sexual partner. Thus, he resorts to force or rape. And since the male figure has this aura of dominance, both in the human and animal worlds, they tend to oftentimes, exhibit this dominance on the female folk.
With other psychological and medical researches, it is given that the high level of testosterone in men usually increases the tendency for violent behaviours. And of course, when men are not able to easily exhibit these behaviours towards their fellow men, they’d rather vent it on their wives, sisters or any other females around them, considered as the “weaker vessels”.
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Amongst other things – like the abusive use of drugs and alcohol – poor education on the part of men also contributes to the gross violation against women. We all can see how obtainable this is in our society. Women are taught how to dress, talk, walk and live their lives to avoid being raped or taken advantage of. Inasmuch as this is great, the male folk should also be well indoctrinated in the practice of respecting women.
From a young age, a boy should be taught how to respect and protect the girl child, not how to abuse her and use her for his gratification. It hurts to see and hear how men maltreat their wives, with the excuse that they have “paid for the package”. But sir, she is not a cow in your herd or a piece of furniture in your house, which can be used in any manner at all. She is human!
There have been several literary texts that depict violence against women, with these writers, sharing either their personal stories or those of others they’ve witnessed. Buchi Emecheta’s Second Class Citizen is a rough sketch of what she went through at the hands of her husband. Mariama Bâ’s So Long A Letter is a narration of what a Muslim single mother had to face in her own traditional and religious environment.
Indeed, it is not only the men in our society that violate women. Women have been violating women since time immemorial. The number of female pimps and human traffickers is on the rise. What about genital mutilation? We seem to forget it is women who do this to themselves.
It is said that this practice has been abolished. But it will surprise you that in many places, it is still held in high esteem. We would probably have to sit back and reflect on what we are doing to the girl child. Are we to fold our hands and watch them perish or stand against these violations and push her to be the best she can be?
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