Violence affects many women all around the world. Several types come to mind when the word “violence” is mentioned; I think of physical, sexual, and partner violence. One type I failed to acknowledge was emotional violence. This includes humiliation, belittlement, and such, which also has great effects on individuals along with the other commonly mentioned types. With a society that holds such strong patriarchal views, violence towards women in Nigeria can many times go unacknowledged or excused. As generations pass, however, public health officials are realizing how detrimental experiences of violence and trauma can be on one’s life, and are working on ways to combat the high rates of violence towards women in Nigeria.
Although violence against women occurs among all socioeconomic statuses, there is more prevalence among lower classes and those living in poverty. This occurs due to people not being knowledgeable on the effects violence can have on women (or anybody for that matter). Also, men who are financially struggling for one reason or another can carry out their anger and frustrations on their wife/wives and/or children. There are records of pregnant women being attacked out of anger, causing complications during pregnancy and even fatality of the baby.* Due to the patriarchal nature of the Nigerian society, many women choose not to speak up due to fear of future violence or other punishments. This patriarchal nature also affects the way daughters are brought up. Among struggling families, many times the daughters are neglected or not given food so that more care is given to the sons of the family. This is due to the pedestal that boys and men are placed on. Many girls from lower class families are told to stay home instead of attend school, so they can tend to the house and help raise the family.
Instances like this can bring forth many traumatic experiences for a woman. Trauma has been found to have many effects on an individual physically, emotionally, and psychologically. There is the physical damage from violence such as scarring, internal and external bleeding, development of infections, and mortality. These are the things that are noticed more often because we can physically see them. Nowadays, there is more emphasis placed on also noticing the other effects that require more than just looking with your eyes. The constant fear can weigh heavily on an individual and distract them from completing their daily tasks, which can affect the flow within the family. It can cause lack of sleep, leading to other negative conditions. Women can place blame on themselves, thinking that they’re the one at fault for the men in their life attacking them. This can cause self-esteem issues and confusion on their role in life. Trauma can also bring forth many different psychological conditions to an individual, which can affect the way they go about life forever.
As time has passed and extensive research has been conducted, more importance has been placed on viewing violence against women and trauma as a health issue and not just a cultural construct. An article I looked at talks about the United Nations Millenium Declaration and how it addresses the challenge of diminishing violence against women in Nigeria. This declaration was created in September 2000 to provide “freedom, equality (of individuals and nations), solidarity, tolerance, respect for nature and shared responsibility”. There are eight millennium declaration goals that connect with the prevention of violence against women: eradicate extreme poverty/hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality, increase maternal health, combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases, ensure environmental stability, and develop a global partnership for development.* There is hope that working on each of these goals within Nigeria will lower the rates of violence towards women and increase public knowledge of the issue at hand.
- Abama, Elizabeth & Chris, M. A. Kwaja. “Violence against women in Nigeria: how the millennium development goals addresses the challenge.”