In these Days of Gender-Based Violence, Rape and Assault, What?

Like the cries flowing from pangs of labour pain, the outcry against rape, assault, violence, oppression, suppression and repression of women rents the air. Varying outbursts of emotions, expressions, perceptions unquantifiable – some empathetic and sympathetic; some compassionate and painful; while others are neutral or antagonistic. Perpetrators are picked up for questioning but are soon released on bail. They are protected by status, wealth, immunity – diplomatic, parliamentary, judicial and religious. In no time despite these displays, the drama fizzles out like ‘Andrew liver salt’ and the circle seems to repeat itself. On and on, the bizarre plight of women goes on. Then, what?

The Situation Begs Answers

Are perpetrators brought to book? Do the victims receive justice? Are traditional media or social media outcry the root-cause/solution to this recurring malady? How many lives are affected by the whole outcry by our judgmental approach? What are the subsequent effects and repercussions of spontaneous actions or reactions? In our quest for justice, how can we heal the victims and save the perpetrators from themselves? Would it be out of place to think both parties need saving? Are there better grievance redressing channels or procedures for handling issues that could be explored? Like the Yoruba adage, “gbogbo aso ko la ma n sa l’orun” – what worked for Ms A. may not necessarily work for Ms B. After all the public outbursts, are the victims truly free and healed? Are they relieved?

Answers all Depend on Whom You Ask

The answers and if there have been solutions all depend on whom you ask. Nigeria as a member of the United Nations signed and ratified various relevant international instruments, treaties and conventions. These instruments emphasise that member nations put in place the necessary mechanisms needed to eliminate gender discriminations, ensure equality and promote human dignity. However, despite Government’s commitment to a nation focused on human rights protection, devoid of discrimination, violence, elimination of discrimination, ensuring equality for men and women yet, the direct opposite persists (Ekhota 2018). The history of policy development in Nigeria has been that of the general neglect of the gender variable as the country’s development policies remain gender-based to the disadvantage of the female gender (NCAA, 2012).

Is the Answer in Policy Change?

The regular displays we witness every time, do they influence policy change to better the lot of women? Hmm. In a male-dominated house of lawmakers consisting of violent men and women abusers, what do we expect? A house where a lawmaker is quoted to have said “… the Church wedding says if you marry, the couple become one, while the Igbo tradition says when you marry a wife, she becomes your property” (, 2016, March 15). A house that will not ratify bills to better the lot of women under the pretext that the contents are not aligned with religious and cultural beliefs of most Nigerians. If the contents did align, would the lawmakers still have passed the bill? These challenges according to Ajadi, Adebisi, & Alabi, 2010; Eze-Anaba, 2005; Amnesty International, 2005,  are attributed to patriarchy, lack of female and gender-sensitive representation and absence of effective gender policies positioned to safeguard women’s issues.


When asked how those who experienced the horrors of mass rapes in war situations like Liberia could be helped, “More women in power” was the insightful answer of Leyman Gbowee, 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner. Similarly, through her narrative, Sheryl Sandberg (2013), states having more women at the top will make the needed difference:

I got pregnant with my first child in the summer of 2004…  One day… I had to rush to make an important client meeting… parking was an ongoing problem… the only spot I could find was quite far away. I sprinted across the parking lot… I recounted these troubles to my husband…He pointed out that Yahoo… had designated parking for expectant mothers at the front of each building… next day, I marched in—or more like waddled in…and announced that we needed pregnancy parking, preferably sooner rather than later… He looked up at me and agreed immediately, noting that he had never thought about it before … The other pregnant women must have suffered in silence, not wanting to ask for special treatment. Or maybe they lacked the confidence or seniority to demand that the problem be fixed. Having one pregnant woman at the top, even one who looked like a whale, made the difference.

                              Women Emancipation

Would the answer lie in total emancipation of women? Look out for the gender neutrality in leadership and emancipation of women articles. Maybe it is time women are more proactive about increased representation in strategic, decision influencing positions. Could this be the time to lend our support?  Not in mediocrity just because women are needed in positions of authority but, to women who have the capacity and have proven themselves worthy over time. Think about it.


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