Opinions & Features September 20, 2022 at 11:21 am

Can Africa Win the War on Violence Against Women?

Deborah Dzifa Makafui September 20, 2022 at 11:21 am

September 20, 2022 at 11:21 am | Opinions & Features

Photo Credit: Bidgee

A few months ago, a female student in northern Nigeria was killed after being stoned, beaten, and set on fire by a mob over an allegedly blasphemous message she had posted online about the Prophet Mohammed.

Deborah Yakubu, the woman in question, was ambushed and brutally killed by her fellow students while they were surrounding her amid her plea. The Shehu Shagari school in Sokoto, northwest Nigeria, was the scene of the tragedy, and it was widely condemned.

Last week, In Kano’s Kumbotso local government region, a 23-year-old lady was fatally stabbed by her Chinese lover. On Friday, September 16, at around 10 p.m., the event is said to have taken place after the suspect visited the deceased, Ummakulsum Sani Buhari, at her parents’ home. The deceased woman was a divorcee, and the suspect was her lover. The suspect is currently being detained at the Dorayi quarter’s divisional police station.

These recent events, however, did not go unnoticed, in contrast to numerous similar cases. The story received widespread media coverage, particularly after Deborah’s tragic death sparked discussions and demonstrations. There are worries that it could exacerbate sectarian tensions in the nation, which is mostly divided along religious lines, with the north being predominately Muslim and the south being predominately Christian.

But aside from that, it’s important to emphasize that, despite the fact that violence against women is known to be as old as the sun, this trend is becoming alarming because it doesn’t appear to be improving and because we have not been able to find a solution for it. The World Health Organization (WHO) claims that violence against women is a widespread issue that affects millions of women worldwide.

African women have historically faced discrimination in a variety of spheres of life. Gender-based violence is one of the biggest dangers African women face today. Certain dangers should be more common in less developed places where women are more likely to have limited access to formal education and employment possibilities, however, it is predominant everywhere, which births my question “Can Africa win the fight against violence against women?”

It is important to note that Deborah’s death caused an instant outrage in the country because of its religious undertone, Ummakulsum Sani Buhari has not gotten much outrage because of the normalization of intimate partner violence. When one spouse seeks to dominate and control the other, intimate partner violence occurs. The abuse may take the form of verbal, psychological, physical, or sexual assault as well as financial, technological, or legal abuse. The victim now feels helpless, frightened, bewildered, and insecure. Frequently, victims are held accountable for engaging in these situations.

The inclination to hold the perpetrator of the crime responsible rather than the victim of the crime is a worrying trend in many incidents of violence against women. Numerous high-profile incidents of violence against women have occurred during the past few months, underscoring the victim-blaming attitude that prevails in our society. This was observed following Deborah’s passing.

Africa is a highly religious continent so it is not surprising that religious teaching and membership provide a crucial framework for many women as they handle experiences of abuse because religion is a personal and institutional reality in the lives of the majority of the population in Africa. Religious violence is on the rise once again. Violent confrontations between sects or religions have dramatically increased during the last ten years.

It is essential that clergy become knowledgeable about violence against women and make contact with nonreligious advocates and services in order to appropriately respond to the needs of women and also address the victim-blaming culture in Africa.

In conclusion, violence against women is a serious issue that calls for a comprehensive effort from all parties involved, including governmental actors, global human rights watchdogs, and civil society organizations. Maximum care and assistance should be given to victims and survivors, violations must be thoroughly investigated, and criminals must be tried and jailed in order to act as a deterrent.

Making new legislation official does not suffice. There is a need to make sure that everyone who responds to violence against women — whether they are police officers, judges, lawyers, immigration officials, medical personnel, or social workers — is sensitized and trained to provide a response that is compassionate and thorough. Law enforcement and court mechanisms must also be made welcoming and accessible to women.

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