Monday, March 08, 2010

Honouring Women

I am as remote as one can decently be from being a feminised male. A father of three boys, a brother of five and in all cases the only women in my life have adjusted to the Testosterone fueled existence that is normal in masculine environment. My mother, sister and wife are honorary men without doubt socialised by the necessity of relationship with men. In fact all my adventures with the opposite sex has never been much with the frilly, girly types. It is with that background that I write about the disturbing discrimination and abuse reserved for women here in Nigeria. The cover of the latest Economist Magazine shouts out Gendercide looking at over 100 million female babies disappeared in India and China because of abortion prompted by advancement in technology i.e. Scans with consequence that preferences for male children are now more efficiently exercised before birth. This is an extremely disturbing situation that not only is worthy of challenge but crosses into the most extreme evil human are capable of committing. In Nigeria it is neither that simple nor does the problem register for National Hysteria.

One in every three Nigerian women I have met have been victims of rape, incest or sexual abuse before they reached the age of 18. Most of these actions were inflicted by trusted family, friends or domestic help. In most cases as it is in a society where a woman is one step from being a Jezebel the shame of the experience is hidden from any adult for the fear of the blame or disgrace that might visit. I remember when i was growing up in Ibadan that there were a group of boys notorious for gang banging unsuspecting girls and denigrating them afterwards. None of these men were ever prosecuted and many hold responsible positions even though what they did around town is still very public knowledge.

For those who never suffered the abusive indignity there is another one reserved for them which is that no matter how successful a women is in our society if she has never been married she has failed. The constant prayers and vigil of parents to their late 20s daughters and God forbid 30s unmarried 'girls' is a constant painful reminder whether it is the regular match making efforts, the sympathetic stares or the suspicious trailing by married friends. It is never ending humiliation and reminders of foretold loneliness. The assumption that marriage cures this malaise is ignorant at best. Domestic violence or more bluntly wife bashing is a past time for large numbers of men in our society with no shame for the perpetrator. As I speak a friend is on his way from the UK to save his sister from a husband who uses her as a punching bag daily after a bottle or two of Gulder. Make no mistake the husband is not an Okada rider but a very rich Phd whose idea of masculinity includes total de-humanization of the mother of his children.

We reserve a special venom for women in our public life from the constant sexual attention in the workplace as if being in employment is advertising sexual availability. The everything goes invective that we pour on any woman who dares position themselves for power. I remember Speaker Etteh who no doubt did wrong but was analysed in ways that made every part of my skin cringe with the thinly disguised sexism on parade. I am not suggesting that women are saints in this matter , in fact some of most disgraceful acts of abuse and disrespect come from women themselves but what about men? There is a difference between an adult male and a man. A man takes responsibility wherever he finds it. Real men engage in honourable competition and assertive integrity in the most combative circumstances they might find themselves with women. Nothing can justify abuse, denigration or humiliation. It is time for real men to stand up for women in Nigeria without whom we will perpetually be an underperforming and embarrassing joke.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

How true is what u say a nation that does not realise that the backbone of the nation is held by the sweat and blood of very hard working women. A society that makes the younger generation of women want to virtually become prostitutes or objects that belong to older or richer men. Thank you for sharing these thoughts . I pray that many men some who do abuse their wives / partners will take the time to digest and act upon this blog

Anonymous said...

How true is what u say a nation that does not realise that the backbone of the nation is held by the sweat and blood of very hard working women. A society that makes the younger generation of women want to virtually become prostitutes or objects that belong to older or richer men. Thank you for sharing these thoughts . I pray that many men some who do abuse their wives / partners will take the time to digest and act upon this blog

Anonymous said...

How true is what u say a nation that does not realise that the backbone of the nation is held by the sweat and blood of very hard working women. A society that makes the younger generation of women want to virtually become prostitutes or objects that belong to older or richer men. Thank you for sharing these thoughts . I pray that many men some who do abuse their wives / partners will take the time to digest and act upon this blog

Ololade said...

"One in every three Nigerian women I have met have been victims of rape, incest or sexual abuse before they reached the age of 18. Most of these actions were inflicted by trusted family, friends or domestic help"...

Oga, almost sounds like buying into the oyinbo paranoia... Could this be really said to be true of the situation of our women-folk in Nigeria? Or maybe this relates only to women that you've met....

Anonymous said...

Whoever wrote the previous comment is living in lala land. Most women who have been through the awful experience dare not mention it to anyone as they will be seen as cheap and it was their fault. Get with reality. It still happens and something has to be done about it and there should be justice for the wrongdoings that has been taking place

Onibudo said...

@ Ololade . If considering the strata of Nigerian society I belong too that can be my experience then I am sure it is worse further down the income line. As anonymous posits stop burying your head in the sand. When last was conviction for rape trumpeted in Nigerian media. It is a very are occurrence. Paranoia ? Brother man God forbid the pain is visited on anyone you love. This is the kind of thing we need some public hysteria about rather than the usual political bullshit. This affects the lives of millions of voiceless and humiliated women.

ijebuman said...

Thanks for blogging about this issue.
This is something I feel strongly about too.
I think the response by Ololade is just typical of the way the average naija reacts to important issues in our society.