Sunday, 25 November 2007

Say NO to Violence against Women!

November 25th – International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women,

“One in three women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime - with the abuser usually someone known to her” – United Nations

I have always thought facts and statements like the one mentioned above were terribly sad and unfortunate. I felt pity on the women that were unfortunate to become victims to domestic violence. I acknowledged that this was a great injustice against women, but it wasn’t until last year did I decide to take action against it.

Daura is a place I have always called home despite only being there once a year. There’s the yummy fried finger food made readily available for me on request, there’s the fresh light breeze that strokes your skin and makes you feel comfortably lightheaded, there’s the percussion of the Tambari drums hinting that the Royals are in town, there’s the music of the Aligaita and Kakaki possibly from a Mai Busa practicing for the next Durbar, there’s the smell of burning firewood sweeping the streets mixed with the aroma of hot roasting Suya that is just begging to be devoured. Above all, the over optimistic ever smiling people that make you assume they are the reason that Katsina state is coined the home of hospitality.

Part of what made the place more exciting for me was my grand aunt. She’s my grandpa’s cousin but because she is quite young (maybe about 40 years old now), I refer to her as Aunty M. Aunty M happens to be the most happy-go-lucky woman I have ever met. There’s never a dull moment with this lady. The glass was always half full; her husband wasn’t an ordinary government school headmaster, he was a man that changes the lives of young kids and put them in the right direction; her children’s clothes were not expensive, her children are so healthy and nourished that they need bigger clothes. And one she prided herself in, her husband wasn’t too controlling, he wanted the best for her and couldn’t stand her getting hurt. Whenever we were in town, she’d be the one to wake us up for breakfast in the morning; she’d spend the whole day with us and wouldn’t leave until we our tummies were full with dinner.

One morning, I was lying in my mum’s room when she arrived about 2 hours later than usual without a smile on her face. I ignored her unkempt look and disheveled veil and greeted her like I usually did. She didn’t answer me but broke down in tears. It’s really disturbing to see someone that is always so cheerful cry and wail. She wasn’t speaking, but the first thing that came to my mind was that from the way she was wailing, wither someone had died or she was in immense pain. I went to comfort her but as usual, I kindly was asked out of the room because this might be “adults’ business”. I left without arguing but hoping desperately that my favorite eavesdropping window was left open.

Apparently her husband beat her up, not with his bare hands, not with a cane but with a three headed dorina (horse whip). He had beaten her once two years ago and more recently he had been doing it to her for the past two weeks but it was only now that she had had the courage to tell anyone because she knew we will listen. I felt so sorry for her. He bruised her lips so badly she had to talk from the side of her mouth, her arms were swollen and inflamed and there was blood rushing out from many spots. I couldn’t control my tears. She shrieked when we tried to use warm towels to alleviate the pain. How can anyone ever do this to a human being let alone your wife? The woman you claim to love? The woman that has been beside you for the past 20 years!

That wasn’t the end of it. When she went home that night, do you know that he beat her again? This time because she reported to my mum. She ran to the police station but the police turned her home saying that when it comes to issues between husband and wife, they will not intervene. (Imagine!) I was so angry with this that my mum and I told my father and grandma an uncle tried to tell me to “mind my business and not put my mouth in issues that are beyond me” he even tried to make me leave the place by telling me to bring ice water for everyone. But it’s this one thing he said made me want to throw my stilettos at him in anger. “It’s none of our business what happens between her and her husband”. I was so furious! Are you BLIND! Can’t you see her body? Do you want him to bring her corpse home before you put the blame on him? In the end, my dad and grandma (bless them) asked for him to be arrested.

It was after this incident that I started putting two and two together. Exactly two years ago, I remember she had a mysterious miscarriage which we all blamed on painkillers. Now that I think of it, she took Paracetamol and only Aspirin and Heparin can actually cause blood thinning and miscarriages. Who knows maybe it was because he caused her so much pain and killed his own unborn children.

She told me that it was a common thing these days in Daura that husbands b4eat their wives. I was heartbroken. The place I have always thought perfect had ugly skeletons. Everything looked so jolly on the surface but underneath… I was disappointed but it got me thinking, about my possible career goals, thinking about how to make a difference in people’s lives. People have to stop overlooking serious issues like that. No one deserves to be treated like that anywhere in the world, talk less of a free, democratic country. We need to get the message out there. We need to empower women to report domestic abuse. We need to change people’s perceptions of what is morally right. It is ridiculous that in this day and age people would think it is acceptable for the husband to beat the wife. It is even more disturbing that this doesn’t just occur in my Daura, I have seen situations like this when I was in Warri and Port – Harcourt and after reading United Nations Women Watch reports, it is RAMPANT WORLDWIDE! It is sickening!

Violence against women persists in every country in the world as a pervasive violation of human rights and a major impediment to achieving gender equality. Such violence is unacceptable, whether perpetrated by the State and its agents or by family members or strangers, in the public or private sphere, in peacetime or in times of conflict. ... As long as violence against women continues, we cannot claim to be making real progress towards equality, development and peace.

I know with an issue like this people often wonder - what can I do? It is difficult to help individually, but you can make a difference by supporting groups and organizations that are helping to eradicate it.

Personally I joined Amnesty International and I am so pleased with their campaigns so far – Spread the word!





November 25th – December 10th: 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence. Find out more here!





6 comments:

Nyemoni said...

Wow...How sad...Thanks for speading the message!And thanks too for your good wishes on my blog! Keep up the good work! 1 love!

Olamild said...

I RA!ZE MY VOICE

STOP THE VIOLENCE

onydchic said...

Touching story. I really think it's time women started fighting for their rights, and against all this subjegation! It's time!

30+ said...

IT IS JUST SAD THAT THIS HAPPENS

I RAIZE MY VOICE

Lulu said...

Keep up the good work.

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