By Mabi Azefor Fominyen
She is sometimes beaten in class by her male classmate, threatened at home by her brothers, sexually harassed in her office by her male colleagues, raped in her community by a man, coerced into sex by another man , molested by her husband or male partner, abused by a family member, assaulted by a neighbour, a stranger.................. .....................! Yet she deserves a better world!
Violence and abuse may vary in form. Sometimes it's the physical.This includes, pushing, slapping, hitting with fist, pulling of hair, chocking and the use weapons. It could be sexual and in some cases men use damaging objects without the woman's consent (stories of such acts are now common in the media ). It could be psychological as well as emotional- sometimes causing traumas.
Throughout the world, violence against women and girls, kills and maims vast numbers; it fills their lives with pain and terror from which some never recover.It affects the young and the old, the married and unmarried. It also affects people who are dating, single, cohabiting, divorced, gay or lesbian. People from all social, ethnic, religious, racial and economic groups.
"Violence against women is perhaps the most shameful human rights violation.And it is perhaps the most pervasive. It knows no boundaries of geography, culture or wealth. As long as it continues, we cannot be making real progress towards equality, development and peace" (Kofi Annan, March 8, 1999)
In spite of efforts to curb violence and abuse, statistics still paint a horrifying picture of what women go through in different communities. Violence has not been abated. Some gender specialists and activists have opined that violence against women has become as much a pandemic as HIV/AIDS or malaria.
Why then do men continue to abuse women/girls ? And how comes women continue to bear it?
At this point am tempted to share some of the responses and words I got when I put this question to a cross section of people as I sampled opinions needed for my radio programme:
"because some men think it makes them stronger", " because many societies celebrate male dominance and encourage men to do so coupled with rigid gender roles", " some cultural, traditional, economic and social factors put women in a tight corner, making her vulnerable thus she gets abused by the man", " men who abuse women were equally abused in their childhood ", "some men are weak , alcoholics, possessive and think by using violence it makes them appear macho", " marital violence", "some women bear it out of love, others have no other option so the men take them for granted hence, some are poor so they are used and abused, others just fell into the wrong hands ........................."
In addition to raising awareness on issues surrounding violence and abuse, there's certainly the need for a change in perception and attitudes. The need to move from mere rhetoric to concrete actions such that perpetrators of acts of abuse get adequately exposed and punished, while victims report to the right quarters and survivors speak out in a bid to check such abuses. Of course governments and other individuals would have to give it more attention than is the case in most countries today.
To the woman or girl who is being abused , its important to asses the situation and look carefully at the options in front of you. Meantime, you might want to draw up a strategic safety plan , stretch out for help from family members, individuals and organisations and try getting much information that could be helpful even as you try to make better the situation.
To you the man, why not start treating 'HER' like a queen? Afterall 'SHE' treats you like her king quite often. Besides she is a human being and not an object meant to be abused. Above all she is your sister, friend, mate, wife, mother, colleague, neighbour, daughter, partner, grandmother, aunt, niece and you name it.