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Violence Against Women in Nigeria: The Dirty Secrets You’re Yet to Know

Gender-based violence is on the rise, in Nigeria and across the world alike. 

Globally, it is shocking to know that at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into or otherwise abused in her lifetime most often by someone she knows including a member of her own family, an employer or a co-worker.

Surprised huh? But in case you’re saying “I have never been violated as a girl child,” you might be wrong.

By the way if I may ask; who did the cooking for the male counterparts in the house while you were growing up? Whether or not that’s an abuse of your rights as a girl child,I will be back to do the analysis.

In the mean time, let’s talk about gender-based violence.

Violence against women is a persistent and universal problem occurring in every culture and social group. It has been called“the most pervasive yet least recognized human rights abuse in the world.”

So what exactly is gender-based violence?

It is violence against women based on women`s subordinate status in society. It includes any act or threat by men or male dominated institutions that inflict physical, sexual, or psychological harm on a woman or girl because of their gender.

Many cultures, traditional beliefs, norms and social institutions allow violence against women to thrive, and that’s been a big headwind in the fight against this menace.

Broadly speaking, it could take the form of physical, sexual and psychological violence. Common examples are domestic violence (husband beating up his wife or perhaps a boyfriend beating up her partner); sexual abuse including rape and abuse of children by family members; forced pregnancy; sexual slavery; traditional practices harmful to women such as honor killings, burning or acid throwing.

Other ones include female genital mutilation, dowry-related violence (In the Yoruba culture for instance, the man comes to your house as a woman, pays a token as if he wants to purchase a congo of rice and the dowry is still returned to him); violence in armed conflict such as murder and rape, and emotional abuse such as coercion and abusive language.

Trafficking of women and girls for prostitution, forced marriage, sexual harassment and intimidation at work are additional examples of violence against women.

Not long ago, I was discussing with a colleague and she narrated the ordeals of a young lady to me. The story was so pathetic that at first I was dazed. I had said ‘lailai, I can never take that rubbish from any guy.” How could a man be that callous? I asked rhetorically. However, in reality, I could be the lady in that situation.

What really happened?

The name of this young lady is BB (not real name). She had concluded plans with her fiancé to have their family introduction done in two months time and wedding a few months after. Without an iota of doubt, one could conclusively say that both families are aware of what is going on between BB and her fiancé, but that wasn’t the case.

In the course of their courtship, BB got pregnant for him (not the first time such is happening because she had had several abortions for her ‘love’). One would think this pregnancy should be kept since they were planning to get married but alas! the fiancé asked her to abort this pregnancy again. Oh! you screamed, too?

So what was his reason? Anyways, he said his mum had warned him not to engage in pre-marital sex not to talk of getting someone pregnant before the wedding day. At that point, I couldn’t believe my ears.

See hypocrisy of the highest order (he knew this and still went ahead to impregnate his ‘Bae’). Come to think of it, the same mother did not advise him against the sin of abortion. So who is deceiving who?

And now, the lady is confused. She is scared for her unborn child being fatherless, or her womb being damaged in case she’s not lucky with the abortion.

Thinking of all she has invested in her relationship and counting her loss, there comes the question: should she have this abortion for the last time because if she doesn’t, she will lose her fiancé? She is scared about her apparently slim chances of getting another guy who will want to marry her considering her ordeals.

Also, here’s a puzzle to be solved: Can we categorize this situation or act of the fiancé as violence since it was a consensual sex? If she’s asked to keep the baby, how will she take care of the baby considering that she is not even empowered (she has not completed her degree programme at the University; she doesn’t have any sellable skills such as fashion designing, hairdressing, make over, or any other.

Seriously, what can she do? I will glad to hear from you.

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About The Author

Adejumo Funmilayo is a lawyer and staunch advocate for women and the girl child rights. She’s a contributor at Pep Naija.


  1. […] reading my previous article, a male friend of mine quickly fired a shot at me: “Is it an abuse of right for a girl child to […]