Women and Gender Constituency joint statement on SB 48

 

 

Real commitment to rights-based, gender-just solutions to climate change is imperative for the effective implementation of the Paris Agreement.

The members of the Women and Gender Constituency (WGC) participated in the SB48 climate talks that took place from 30 April to 10 May 2018 in Bonn, Germany. The sessions will be resumed from 3-8 September, 2018 in Bangkok in order to finalise the Guidelines of Implementation of the Paris Agreement at COP24 in December in Katowice, Poland. Below, we have shared some key highlights from our work in Bonn.

Gender equality and human rights in the Paris Rulebook

The WGC came to Bonn with a strong call for the rights based principles that Parties already agreed upon in the Preamble of the Paris Agreement – gender equality, rights of indigenous peoples, ecosystem integrity and protection of biodiversity, respecting human rights and intergenerational equity, ensuring food security and just transition as well as public participation – that have come to be known as “The Great Eight”, to be incorporated into singled items under the APA in order for them to be operationalized.

The WGC welcomed that the new informal note, the so-called navigation tool on the guidance for the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), invites Parties to provide information on gender and rights based principles in NDC planning process. Looking towards COP24, Parties must ensure that this integration remains and that gender dimensions are strengthened across other items of the Rulebook, not only in adaptation communication (Article 7.5), but also under the respective issues negotiated by the SBI and SBSTA such as Article 6 on cooperative approaches, non-market and the sustainable development mechanisms.

“On the Paris Rulebook, we remind Parties that there can be no effective climate action unless it is people-centered, ensuring human rights, gender equality and other rights-based principles in all aspects of implementation.” Kalyani Raj- All India Women’s Conference (AIWC)

Progress under the Gender Action Plan (GAP)

In this first UNFCCC session since the adoption of the Gender Action Plan at COP23, there were positive signs and actions on this issue at SB48.

On May 2, the first full day of a two-part gender workshop, a range of Parties and stakeholders shared initial experiences with translating the GAP into national contexts and integrating it into national planning. The three thematic areas covered in the workshop were: how sex-disaggregated data can support identifying gender differentiated impacts and inform climate policy and action, gender analysis and budgeting as the foundation of gender-responsive climate policy and action, and governance and coordination mechanisms to facilitate gender-responsive climate policy and action.

On May 4, the COP23 Presidency hosted a breakfast with Heads of Delegations and National Gender and Climate Change Focal Points (FP) to discuss the needs for capacity-building and support for the gender focal points and to share experiences. To date, only 22 countries have nominated FPs, and the WGC calls on Parties to nominate their FPs and to equip them with the needed resources and competencies to effectively operate.

On May 5, a Gender Dialogue was held with the Chairs of all Constituted Bodies under the UNFCCC to discuss coherence in implementation and reporting on gender mandates and to discuss a technical paper recently produced by the UNFCCC Secretariat. It was one of the few times all the Chairs of these Bodies had the opportunity to meet, resulting in several constructive recommendations, particularly related to enhanced guidelines for mainstreaming gender in national communications.

On May 9, the second, half-day of the Gender Workshop focused on equal participation and looked at strategies and policies to enhance women’s participation in national delegations. It was emphasised during the discussion that gender balance is not just a technical requirement but that gender parity is a prerequisite for gender justice. Nevertheless, gender equality and climate justice require not only the equal participation of women and men, but the systematic assessment and integration of gender in all aspects of climate policies and action and their implementation as well as the consultation of gender experts and women and gender non-governmental organisations.

“We are pleased that there seemed to be real momentum and political will from Parties during the Bonn session to see real actions coming from the GAP, both in terms of how it relates to their own national strategies and priorities, as well as how they will be able to measure concrete results at the end of 2019. It is key to remember that as there can be no effective climate action without people-centeredness, so too must these dialogues contribute to real and meaningful climate action on the ground.”Nanna Birk, LIFE E.v.

Need for a robust scheme to operationalize the LCIPP at COP2

On May 9, the SBSTA agreed to continue considerations of the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform (LCIPP) at SBSTA49 in Katowice, since no agreement on the establishment of the Facilitative Working Group (FWG) of the LCIPP could be reached. The WGC supports the Indigenous Peoples organizations (IPO) UNFCCC Constituency and looks forward to the adoption of the platform at the end of the year in Katowice and its operationalization.

“Local communities and indigenous peoples are often at the frontline of climate change and their knowledge is critical to enhance resilience and adaptation. Their rights have to be ensured in all action taken under the Convention and the Paris Agreement.” – Edna Kaptoyo, Indigenous Information Network, Kenya

‘Talanoa for Ambition’ held but ambition remains elusive

The Talanoa Dialogue originated from a plan in the works since the Paris Agreement was adopted to have a substantive discussion about global progress toward the 1.5 degree Celsius warming limit to inform Parties’ Nationally Determined Contributions, and was shaped by the COP23 Presidency of Fiji through the concept of Talanoa – a tradition focused on participatory, transparent dialogue facilitated through the art of storytelling. Designed as a discussion to catalyze ambition and appropriate action to course correct the NDCs from their trajectory of 3+ degrees of warming to 1.5 degrees, the three questions of Where are we? Where do we want to go? and How do we get there? were ultimately unable to be answered to their fullest as submissions and speakers were prohibited from detailing the actions or history of specific Parties in a mistaken effort to prioritize comfortable inclusivity at the expense of transparency. Without this reckoning with what brought us here and what must change if the failed policies of the past are not to be repeated, the Talanoa stories were incomplete.

Nevertheless, the WGC proudly shared the feminist strategies being implemented around the world to create a just and healthy planet. The WGC ‘Where are we?’ speaker, co-Focal Point Bridget Burns, shared the urgent reality of this crisis by highlighting the gap between commitments and the action necessary for limiting warming to 1.5° Celsius.

“We must never forget what we are doing here. 2018 must be a year of enhanced ambition if we are to have any chance of fulfilling the goals of the Paris Agreement. It is great that the Fiji Presidency has oriented us in the spirit of Talanoa, to speak together, to listen and to find urgent solutions. But it only works if this dialogue is truly fearless, fierce and frank. It only works if it leads to a political process centered on raising ambition, in delivering on finance commitments in a real and abundant way, and in enhancing national climate contributions. We simply have no time to waste and as women’s groups working on solutions to the climate crisis across the globe, we will hold countries’ feet to the fire in meeting the promises of Paris.”- Bridget Burns, WEDO

The WGC also called on countries to urgently lay out the political process for ensuring the Talanoa Dialogue, including clear activities at the next session in Bangkok, will lead to real enhancement of ambition, via support and stepped up NDCs, in the context of equity and justice.

Paying for loss and damage: focusing only on insurance schemes is not a solution

Climate-induced losses and damages are one of the largest threats to social justice. With the recognition that the world has to respond to this in Article 8 of the Paris Agreement, the WGC had hoped that governments would step up to real action in order to protect the most vulnerable. While the Suva Expert Dialogue that took place during the first week of SB48 could have been a meaningful mechanism to kick-off action, true commitments did not materialize. Insurance is neither an adequate nor an appropriate solution, as many affected communities cannot afford to insure themselves from climate change impacts that they did not, and are not, causing. This dialogue should reflect the urgent need to make polluters pay and come up with more creative ways to pay off the ecological debt.

Now it is time to understand what loss and damage actually means – disasters, slow onset events, non-economic losses, a threat to food security, forced migration and displacement. Gender sensitive data and gender parity in expert bodies and meetings must be at the core of the work on loss and damage to respond to the needs of women and to live up to the fact that women suffer most from the impacts of climate change.

Controversial Polish Bill creates an atmosphere of intimidation amongst civil society

With a critical advocacy agenda for integrating human rights and gender equality into the implementation guidelines of the Paris Agreement, members of the WGC spent time during the Bonn intersessional challenging the incoming COP24 Polish Presidency on its commitment to upholding human rights. Earlier this year, the Polish Government passed a law, commonly referred to as the ‘COP24 Bill,’ imposing limitations on assembly as well as allowing for data collection on participants to the upcoming meeting in Katowice, Poland. Hundreds of civil society groups, including feminist allies and networks that launched a ‘sign-on’ in March 2018, and UN Human Rights experts have spoken out against this bill. And in Bonn, the WGC shared its concerns directly to the Presidency as well as the UNFCCC Secretariat.

WGC member from GenderCC, Women for Climate Justice, Patricia Bohland stated, “Effectively prohibiting the freedom of assembly, among other rights, cultivates an atmosphere of intimidation and fear and reinforces the highly worrisome tendencies of shrinking spaces for civil society worldwide. The measures put in place under this bill, such as the collecting and storing of personal data about the participants at COP24 pose an immediate and disproportionate risk to those at the forefront of advocating for environmental protection and human rights.”

Further highlighting a tone and environment of intimidation, during an approved peaceful action led by the WGC and youth organizations to draw attention to this bill and the concerns of civil society, participants were not allowed to name the country of Poland, were criticized for holding a sign naming the ‘COP24 bill’ and were even reprimanded for hosting such a ‘controversial’ action. Right after the action, meters away, a dialogue for Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE)–focused on the ‘right to participation’–took place as part of the formal process.

This calls to attention an alarming trend of stifling participants from speaking truth to power in spaces of the UNFCCC, both in actions as well as in formal submissions made to the process – often rejected if they specifically name any one country. These actions effectively impose a ‘gag rule’ on pointing fingers at those who are most responsible for climate and social injustice. And this is not limited to actions from civil society but also to dialogues among Parties where, as we saw in the Talanoa Dialogue, Parties were asked to refrain from ‘naming and shaming’. Is this not the point of international policy, particularly in the context of a ‘bottom-up’ and nationally determined climate agreement with only a facilitatory compliance mechanism? If the people of the world cannot hold countries accountable, what and who will?

Certainly, the WGC will not be silent about where we are

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Leaving No One Behind In the Fight Against Gender Based Violence

In the last 15 days activities aimed at raising awareness and triggering solutions to eliminate gender based violence (GBV) has been in the front burner of public discourse. The 2017 16 Days of Activism against GBV has been celebrated with vigour by all from around the world.

Our organization- The Centre for 21st Century is grateful to all our partners who sent in their write up on the various aspect of #GBV , it is expected that as people from around the world read the different write ups no one will be left behind.

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Leaving no one behind requires that we not only reach out to those online but also all those off line and on the ground. Ensuring that men women, boys girls and people leaving with disabilities anywhere and everywhere have their human rights to live a life devoid of violence is respected and protected.

Continuing the activism after the 16 days of activism is part of leaving no one behind. Actions to eliminate GBV should be continuous and consistent, we should never relent or relax.  Our actions against GBV from every corner of the globe provide the template for not leaving anyone behind until we end all forms of violence everywhere.

As the curtains draw on 2017 16 days of activism, remember it is the beginning of the renewal of our commitment to eliminate violence in our homes, communities and countries.

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Centre for 21st Century Issues, calls on all governments and leaders everywhere to step it up against GBV by passing laws against GBV  and effectively enforce the laws. Let us give succour to the affected and ensure an enabling environment for peaceful- coexistence of all.

Titilope Akosa

Executive Director

Centre for 21st Century Issues

Who Will Speak For Women In Africa?

 

By

Uju Okeke

 

 

 

 

 

Ugoyo was born into the family of Elewes of Ogui kingdom in Africa

Her father Mr. Elewe refused to visit the clinic when he was informed that his wife gave birth to a sixth girl. He sent a message to Mrs Elewe not to bother returning home.

It took Mrs Elewe’s relatives several days to prevail upon Mr. Elewe to give her another chance. This was after Mrs Elewe stayed with a fetish doctor who bathed her in stream at midnight to wash off everything that connected her with bearing girl children

Mrs Elewe on returning to her matrimonial home resumed conjugal relations immediately as Mr Elewe was unwilling to delay in having a son. The gods smiled on her again as she took in barely one month after the birth of Ugoyo though she heard some women died from this.

Immediately she took in, she was taken back to the fetish doctor so that he will turn the sex of the foetus to male

Mrs Elewe, delivered a bouncing baby boy named Dataka. Mr Elewe and relatives were elated. The fetish doctor was honoured for successfully exorcising Mrs Elewe of the female child spirit

Dataka had the attention of all sundry for saving the family from the shame of loosing family name.

While growing up, many advantages passed Ugoyo by and went to her brother, with whom she was unequal.

Dataka was sent to school unlike Ugoyo who by the way was brighter. Well it did not matter as nobody wastes money educating a girl who will soon marry. They also said school had bad toilet, was too far, and she could be kidnapped on the road as the route was unsafe.

Ugoyo grew up lacking care but was dutiful and obedient, enduring the gruesome pain of circumcision, she was told she needed it for marriage.

One day old men came to their house. She was told to come greet her husband though she was yet to form breasts. The prayers said she will bear many sons.

The old man hit her and she ran to her parents who told her she was inferior to her husband and must have really offended him. They sent her back with relatives that begged for her. When beatings left scars on her, he was praised for loving her enough to correct her.

Seasons passed without pregnancy, more beatings happened and strange females frequented who she must serve.

Fetish priests prepared concoctions and prescribed healings including sleeping with her unconcerned about sexually transmitted infections and disease as procreative ability determined her womanhood.

He called her ‘man’ and threw her out, In-laws despised her, Women mocked her, Neighbors said she was bad luck, Society called her witch, her parents said she was a disgrace. She was told that Infertility diminished her humanness

Old man husband died and Ugoyo was forced to sleep with the corpse and drink water used in washing it to prove her innocence and non complicity in the natural event of death.

Rumors spread that government made laws but there was no change and nobody was prosecuted. She heard city dwellers mention Constitution and human rights but could they change culture?

Ugoyo was hungry and poor with no means of livelihood. She had no inheritance from her parents being female or old man husband, being childless. Smiles disappeared from her face; she was sick every day. She desired death and Death came. Her corpse was thrown into the evil forest.

Who killed Ugoyo?

There are many Mrs Elewes and Ugoyos in our world. Do you know any Mr Elewe, Oldman-Husband, In-laws, Neighbors, Society or even government dealing with Mrs Elewes and Ugoyos? What part are you playing Perpetrator or unconcerned onlooker? Will you join me so that we leave no one behind and end violence against women and girls today?

 

Education as a Tool for Women Empowerment

Olumide Idowu

 

 

 

 

Education is very essential for every one because it is the only education by which we can differentiate between human beings and animals. Education teaches us how we can live in a society that’s why education is important for everyone, for both men and women. In the past, women are denied education. They were not allowed to come out of the four walls of their houses. Domestic issues were their only education. But now we are living in 21st century where men and women are equal.  Men and women should be educated. They believe that women  have to take care of the children, stay home, clean up the house, and be the self-denying wife and mother. They think that the life of a woman is all about getting married, having children, and being bombarded with domestic affairs. But they do not understand that education is very important for women not only for them but for a whole family. Because women are the mothers of the future generation. If women are uneducated, the future generations will be uneducated.

Girls are far more likely than boys to perform hours of unpaid work in the home, including care-giving, cooking and cleaning. Their parents are less likely to enroll them in school. This continuing imbalance of power between the sexes in the public domain underscores the fact that education has not significantly addressed the strategic needs of women as a group – partly due to entrenched patriarchal systems and harmful gender stereotypes. Primary concern must now be how we can advance the right to education, in order to facilitate the rights and strategic needs of girls and women. How can educational institutions help eliminate harmful stereotypes regarding the traditional roles of women and men?

Men and women are like the two sides of a coin. Without one, the other cannot exist. Educating women not only will give an educated family but Education of women can also be helpful in eradicating many social evils such as dowry problem, unemployment problem, etc. Social peace can easily be established. A woman has to play three distinct parts in the course of her life in each of which certain duties are expected of her.

  • Duty of a woman is to be a good daughter,
  • Is to be a good wife,
  • Is to be a good mother.

Education teaches a mother what she should be. It also teaches her how she would do it to be a good daughter, a good wife and a good mother. Only With the help of education women can know their rights. Woman belongs to a weaker section of the society because she suffers from many handicaps due to rigid, outdated social customs and religious practices. But an educated woman cannot be exploited easily. She is aware of her rights and will go any length to defend them.

Thus education will enable women to make their children, husbands and parents truly happy. Consequently it is very important that women should be educated. On all these grounds female education is a vital necessity.

 

Olumide Idowu is an entrepreneur, environmentalist and activist who has successfully led grassroots campaigns in over 42 African countries with over 10  years  experience in the non-profit sector and specialized in practical issues associated with developmental issues. Olumide Idowu is the Co-Founder, Climate Wednesday (@ClimateWed). He can be contacted on Twitter via @OlumideIDOWU

Denying Education to a Girl Child is a form of Violence

Esther Ajayi- Lowo

 

 

 

 

Yes, denying education to a girl child is actually a form of violence against women and girls. I know you may wonder why, so let me break it all down. I define education as the ladder to freedom and liberty. It is any form of instruction for enlightenment of the mind that is provided in both formal and informal institutions. While education is important for every child regardless of gender, I focus on education for the girl-child because its denial easily predisposes the girl child to violence. Also, while I acknowledging that there are diverse forms of education that a girl child benefit from to be free from violence, this short write up is on how the denial of school education and sexuality education to a girl child is tantamount to violence in every sense. You are still wondering about the connection between denial of education to a girl and violence against a girl? Here is how:

First, let us talk about denying a girl child of school education. When you deny a girl child the opportunity of attending a formal school, you are violently seizing her future from her. Inadvertently, in Nigeria, most girls that never attended any school end up in the country’s statistics of child brides, street kids, hawkers on highways, children-raising kids, and victims of sexual and other violent acts. For instance, in Northern Nigeria where the percentage of gild child enrolment in school is the lowest is also where the statistics for child marriage and all its attendant consequences for diseases and mortality is highest. Several buckets of similar examples abound in other parts of Nigeria as well. So, remember that when you deny formal education to a girl child, you are violating her rights and her person, as well as opening up avenue for all other opportunistic violence against women that thrive on lack of education.

Second, denying a gild child sexuality education is also a form of sexual and reproductive violence. The education that a gild child needs is not only the reading and writing skills but also comprehensive information about her body and how to protect it from violence and violation. Sexuality education has been misunderstood as that which teaches girls to have sex, but this is totally wrong. It is rather a form of education that exposes people (girls especially, since this is my focus here) about taking charge of their sexual and reproductive lives. As defined by the Sexuality Education and Information Council of the United States (SEICUS), sexuality education is “a lifelong process of acquiring information and forming attitudes, beliefs, and values. It encompasses sexual development, sexual and reproductive health, interpersonal relationships, affection, intimacy, body image, and gender roles.” It is a form of education that empowers one to make informed decisions about their sex, sexuality, and relationships.

Against the backdrop of this understanding of sexuality education, what happens when a gild child is denied this type of education at home, in school, in religious institutions, and in the society at large? A denial of sexuality education to a gild child is a denial of her control over her sexuality, a ticket to her becoming sexually subservient and vulnerable to sexual violence and abuse of all kinds. Without sexuality education, a girl only ‘learns’ about her body and sexuality via the misguided information from peers, porn, and the internet; she ‘learn about sex, sexuality, and reproduction through personal, physical, and emotional experience of sexual violence and reproductive disasters. We rage about the rising statistics of teenage pregnancies, STDs/HIV/AIDS among young people, risky sexual behaviors, violent relationships, rape culture, sexual violence, and all kinds of reproductive mortality including maternal and infant. Yet, we would not have girls acquire the education needed to make informed sexual and reproductive decisions. This is not only a form of hypocrisy but an act of deliberate violence against the body, mind, soul, and spirit of a girl child.

To reiterate, all forms of education is a form of empowerment and enlightenment and denying a gild child of such is a direct and indirect form of violence. The violent impacts of denying education to a girl also has rippled effects for her when she matures to womanhood, for her children, and for her generation. Educating a girl child, therefore is the starting point of eliminating all forms of violence against women. Let all stakeholders including parents, teachers, religious leaders, and policy makers who are interested in ending violence take the important step of providing all forms of education for the girl child.

Reference

Sexuality Education and Information Council of the United States (SEICUS). (n.d). Comprehensive sexuality education. Retrieved from http://www.siecus.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Page.ViewPage&pageId=514

Esther Ajayi-Lowo is a feminist activist and scholar. She is a Ph.D. student and Teaching Assistant at Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas. Esther had worked for over a decade with government and nongovernmental organizations on women’s rights and development issues in Nigeria prior to leaving for grad school in the United States; she also remains committed to feminist activism by working as a think-thank and program initiator for several nonprofit organizations and communities in Nigeria.

Why Would Men Physically Abuse Women?

John Baaki

 

 

 

It would have been needless to quote any statistics to prove violence against women, but to give you a fair idea of the situation, I have decided to bring here few national and global statistics, even though they may be smaller than the bigger picture.

 

There are different kinds of violence suffered by women, but for the purpose of this article, I will dwell on domestic violence – violence meted to women by their spouses or spouses’ family.

 

According to UN Women, it is estimated that 35 percent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence from intimate partner or by a non-partner at some point in their lives.

 

Nigeria’s 2017 voluntary report on progress of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), submitted to the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) has it that 34.9 percent of ever partnered women and girls aged 15 years and older were subjected to physical, sexual or psychological violence by a current or former intimate partner in the last 12 months.

 

You may ask, don’t men suffer physical violence from women? While my answer is in affirmative, less men (15%) suffer physical violence from women than women (85%) do from men.

 

It is still debatable why men physically abuse women. Some people think men by nature are aggressive and domineering beings and so are always threatened by any action or inaction from women that tries to diminish their domineering personality. Also, emboldened by some Biblical and Quoranic injunctions which see the man as the head of household, some men have made themselves gods before their wives. The Book of Ephesians 5:22-24 says “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” Similarly, the Book of 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and 1Corinthians 11:3 recognize man as the head of his family. According to the Holy Quran (4:34) – “Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them.”

 

Could these be the passages in the Holy Bible and Quoran which some men use to justify their physical abuse on women forgetting other passages in the same Bible and Quoran such as Ephesians 5:33 and 1 Peter 3:7 which admonish the man to love, respect and honor the wife just like himself and Quoran 4:34 which says men should not physically abuse their wives even though with a condition that if they obey them?

In Africa and in other parts of the world, men are recognized as heads of their households and this privilege extends to more recognition of men for leadership roles in public spaces.

 

It seems to me that, the religious and traditional leadership privileges given to man has bolstered his ego over women. He has forgotten that he is given a huge responsibility to ensure justice, peace, unity and development. As far as I am concerned, battery of a partner is the highest level of irresponsibility, an indicator of a power-drunk leadership. Majority of men abuse this rare leadership opportunity given to them as they openly abuse their wives in the presence of the children who grow up to think this is normal and continue with the trend. I am very lucky to have had a responsible father who I did not witness pick any quarrel with my mother, talk less of a fight. But not all children  are lucky as I am as physical abuse of mothers leads to disintegration of some families which affects education and general bringing up of children.

 

Violence against women has increased in frequency over the years and it is found to be one of the factors militating against full realization of the potentials of women which would have contributed to the development of society. In a bid to end violence against women, the United Nations established the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) which was adopted in 1979. The Convention calls on countries to implement laws and programs that will eliminate violence against women. Similarly, target 5.2 of the SDGs aims to end all forms of violence against women. In line with the CEDAW and the SDGs, the Nigerian government in 2015 enacted the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act.

 

Unfortunately, all the available global and national instruments have not succeeded in reducing violence against women, but it is not impossible for violence against women to be eliminated.

 

Government has the biggest role to play to ensure that women are not physically abused by prosecuting people who are found culpable so as to deter others who may have intention of physically abusing women not to do so. Agencies of government like the Police that is the first point of call when issues of physical abuse occur are very critical in preventing violence against women if the reported cases of abuse are properly handled and prosecuted. But over the years it is observed that most reported cases of abuses are seen by the Police as a mere family matter, or in rape cases, the complainants are blamed for dressing seductively or for visiting a man to have been raped. This kind of attitude has led to many cases of abuse to go unreported while the victims suffer the psychological trauma in silence. Police are critical in the implementation of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, but they can effectively contribute to the implementation of this law only if they are welcoming, open, listen, protect the victim and arraigns the perpetrators for prosecution.

 

The society also needs to change the way it looks at a woman as a lesser being, so much so that an abuse to a woman by a man is considered normal while abuse of a man by a woman is considered a sacrilege. Many women are at a risk of becoming homeless once the husband dies as some families don’t see her suitable to inherit the husband’s property.

 

There is also a big role for the traditional and religious leaders many of whom receive reports of abuses and look at them with patriarchal eyes and do not condem as they see nothing wrong with that. It is time they begin to see that there is everything wrong with physically abusing  anybody irrespective of his/her sex, and therefore condem or report unrepentant persons to the law enforcement agencies.

 

The Constitution of Nigeria has given the fundamental right to all her citizens including women and girls to be free from degrading and inhumane treatment. Physical abuse of women is a degrading and inhumane treatment and so is against the Constitution of Nigeria and a legal matter that requures justice.

 

Whatever reasons that may be advanced, they can never be sufficient and justifiable to physically abuse women.

 

Two questions always come to my mind when issues of abuse on women come up: All men are born of women, and why would men curse the breast that they suckled?, why would men not hit their male friends that wrong them, but hit their closest female partner that does so?

 

Say NO to violence against women.

“If My Mummy Beat My Daddy Who Should I Report To?”

By

 

Damilola Adeoye

 

 

 

“If my mummy beat my daddy who should i report to?” This is one of the interesting questions asked by pupils of low fee private school in Ojo local government area of Nigeria at a training  organized by centre for 21st Century In celebration of 2017 16 days of Activism against Gender Based Violence (GBV.) The  theme of the training is eliminating Gender based violence in  low fee private schools in Lagos state .

The objective of the training was to raise awareness about Gender based violence in school setting  and how to curb them. The training  brought together pupils , parents, proprietors, teachers and community leaders/members as participants in an interesting discussion.

Participants were enlightened about different forms  of violence which  include: Physical violence, emotional violence, sexual violence and technology violence. The need to protect the girl child from all forms of violence in school and at home was emphasized. Noting that statistics shows that  they are most vulnerable to violence. Pupils were encouraged to stop bullying each other and report any case of violence in their schools and communities.

The training triggered some amazing questions which could only be asked from a genuine  innocent  mind of children who are attentive and  ready to be agents of change in ensuring violence in all it forms are eliminated not only in their schools but also in their homes.  some of the questions include

  1. If a parent beat a child at home should they report to their teachers?
  • If a girl first beats a boy what should he do?
  • If someone is being maltreated in their community, who should they report to?
  • If mummy beat daddy and daddy did not do anything who should the child report to?

These questions  tend to reveal the scenarios of possible  pattern of violence which often occur in schools and at homes. Thus the children sought to know how they can take the right actions.

Teachers at the training emphasized the need to punish children when they misbehave and added that punishment  meted out to correct erring pupils should not be regarded as gender based violence  except if it is such that could cause grievous bodily harm to the child .

Some of the pupils demanded to know the appropriate person or authority  to report to if violence occur in the home.  Some asked whether it is appropriate to report to  their their grandparents or religious leaders  since as children they cannot go to the police.

They were advised to report to appropriate authorities in their school  but for home they should report to  those who  has showed tendency to listen to them.

They were also informed of the Lagos State Domestic Violence Law that says a person can report on behalf of someone else. In addition, teachers were admonished to take adequate and appropriate action towards a disobedient pupil. They could mentor the child to change or talk to the parents

It is important that schools create enabling environment for learning and school authorities should encourage children to develop a sense of independence and be able to speak out and protect themselves against any form of violence.

 

Ending Violence Against Children in Nigeria

 

According to UNICEF Survey conducted in year 2015, approximately 6 out of every 10 Nigerian children under the age of 18 years experience some form of physical, emotional and sexual violence before the age of 18 years. One in two children experience physical violence, one in four girls and one in ten boys experience sexual violence, and one in six girls and one in five boys experience emotional violence[1].  Child Labour remains a major source of concern; the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimate reveals that the number of working children under the age of 14 in Nigeria is about 15million.

In year 2003, Nigeria passed the national Child Rights Act to domesticate the international Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African charter on the rights and welfare of the child. To date,  24 states out of 36 state in Nigeria has passed the child rights Law, with Enugu state being the most recent to enact the law in December 2016[1]. The child Rights act specifically guarantees the right of the child and protects him/her from all forms of abuse including early/ forced marriage and exploitation.

On the celebration of 2017 international Children’s Day, the Nigerian Senate adopted a motion calling on the remaining 12 states that are yet to pass the child right Act to do so immediately. The motion mandated the senate committee on women affairs to liase with the federal Ministry of women affairs and social development to ensure that the defaulting states pass the child rights Law[2].

 

Recently, Nigeria launched Campaign to End Violence against Children by 2030 reinforcing the presidential call to end violence against children made in September 2015. From 2015 till date; Lagos, Cross River, Benue, Plateau and Gombe states including and the federal Capaital, Abuja have launched the campaign to end violence against children.  The Ministry of women Affairs and Social Development is working with relevant Government MDAs, civil Society, faith based organizations to develop a national plan of action that will set targets milestones to end violence against children in Nigeria by 2030.

It is hoped that the campaign to end violence against children coupled with the effective implementation of the child rights law and other relevant laws that protects the child will help address the menace of violence against children in Nigeria.

Titilope Gbemisola Akosa

Executive Director

Centre for 21st century Issues

 

 

[1] https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2017/06/01/unicef-calls-for-adoption-of-child-rights-acts-in-all-states/

 

[2] https://guardian.ng/news/senate-moves-to-domesticate-child-rights-act-in-13-states/

 

 

[1]Release of the findings of the Nigeria Violence Against Children Survey

https://www.unicef.org/nigeria/media_9588.html

 

 

Domestic Violence

By

 

Dr. Alaba Oludare

 

 

 

 

Violence has been defined severally to include the use of physical force, words, intrusion, deprivation and distortion to injure, abuse, damage, destroy or cause fear or intimidation  in a person.  By typology, violence could also be racial, ethnic or domestic. Gender based violence has evolved over the years to describe violence directed towards a specific gender including domestic violence. The focus in this article is on domestic violence.

Domestic violence is the physical, sexual, emotional, psychological and economic abuse or threat in an intimate relationship such as marital, dating, parental and guardianship including ex-spouses, persons with child in common, persons with whom there is or was cohabitation. It often manifests as a long term cyclical pattern of abusive behavior and control to intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound the person.

The Cycle of Violence:

 

Behaviors identified as violent:

Physical Abuse: Hitting, slapping, shoving, grabbing, pinching, biting, hair pulling,  choking, wrestling and denial of medical care or forcing alcohol and/or drug use.

Sexual Abuse: Coercing or attempting to coerce any sexual contact or behavior without consent, marital rape, attacks on sexual parts of the body, forcing sex after physical violence has occurred, or treating one in a sexually demeaning manner.

Emotional Abuse: Undermining an individual’s sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem, constant criticism, diminishing one’s abilities, name-calling, or damaging one’s relationship with his or her children and others.

Economic Abuse: Economic or financial abuse is a subtle form of emotional abuse which usually involves withholding basic necessities (food, clothes, medications, shelter), preventing one from choosing own career, sabotaging  job (making him/her miss work, calling constantly or simple distractions), stealing or taking  money.  Making or attempting to make an individual financially dependent by maintaining total control over financial resources, withholding one’s access to money, or forbidding one’s attendance at school or employment.

Psychological Abuse: Causing fear by intimidation; threatening physical harm to self, partner, children, or partner’s family or friends; destruction of pets and property; and  forcing isolation from family, friends, or school and/or work.

Early signs of abuse

Quick tumultuous romance and excessive jealousy, clinging and tracking of partner’s activities

Attempts to isolate in the guise of loving behavior (You don’t need to work or go to school; we only need each other, criticizing friends/family for not caring about you)

Hypersensitivity to allegations of slights and quick to blame others for behavior

Pressured into doing things one is uncomfortable with

Statistics on Gender Violence

The US Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that on average annually- 85% women, 15% men are victims of domestic violence; 20% female high school students report being physically or sexually abused by a dating partner; Females ages 18 to 34 generally experience the highest rates of intimate partner violence; 14% teens report threats from their boyfriend or girlfriend to harm them or themselves to avoid a breakup; 65 % of those that abuse their partner also physically and/or sexually abuse their children; 37 % women seek care in hospital emergency rooms for violence related injuries and 25% of domestic violence crimes reported to police.

Causes

Socio- cultural and economic factors including the belief that abuse is acceptable, unemployment, substance abuse, poor stress management skills, isolation, and excessive dependence on abuser.  Also, belief in patriarchal hierarchy , although some scholars argue that patriarchal mindset does not necessarily lead to female abuse

Psychological or mental problems (anger, low self-esteem, personality disorder, jealousy and possessiveness)

External factors and spiritual problems

 

 

 

Effects

Gender based violence has substantial impact on the abused, family, friends, co-workers, witnesses, and the community at large with  children being the most vulnerable. Children face the risk of developmental problems, bedwetting, psychiatric disorders, school difficulties, aggression, low self-esteem, anxiety, sleep disorders, early pregnancy and marriage including truancy, running away and substance abuse.  Frequent exposure to violence in the home also teaches children that violence is a normal way of life – thereby, inadvertently producing the next generation of victims and abusers.

Stigmatization, severe emotional trauma for victim and witnesses such as depression, shame, anxiety,  panic  attacks, substance abuse posttraumatic stress disorder and confusion; suicide attempts, psychotic episodes, and slow recovery from mental illness, perplexity and disorientation.

Some victims spend more time at work, not wanting to go home, exhibit low self-esteem, sense of worthlessness, emotional highs, lows and numbness. Some may even withdraw from real life into an alternative reality such as the Internet. In many instances, severe injuries, broken relationships, dysfunctional families, spiritual illness or even death occurs.  All these factors make it difficult for survivors to mobilize resources.

Response to Violence

It is not uncommon  that victims who have had a prolonged exposure to violence become abusive too. The question is how to respond without becoming a victim

  1. Know the Lord and know yourself. Are you a brawler, contentious person, difficult to please? (Philippians 3:10; Proverbs 21:9; 19). Who are you? Where is your destination? How can you get there? Utilize the power of love! Love is a choice that Jesus Christ made in our favor. Abusive behavior is a choice just as love is a choice.
  2. A truly strong, powerful man isn’t threatened by a strong, powerful woman. Instead, he is challenged by her, he is inspired by her, he is pleased to relate to her as an equal.” “Keep modeling that behavior yourselves by promoting women in your companies, passing laws to empower women in your countries, and holding the same ambitious dreams for your daughters as you do for your sons.” (Michelle Obama, Young African Leaders International Summit, 2014)
  3. Adopt the 3 “L’s” of women’s empowerment — learning, labor and leadership (Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

 

 

Spiritually

The key ingredient for violent behavior is anger. Anger is a spirit hence a personality that you can subdue. According to Ecclesiastes 7:9  anger rests in the bosom of fools. To conquer the opposition, you must rule your spirit. the one that’s slow to wrath has great understanding but the hasty in spirit, exalts folly (Proverbs 14: 29). Anger is a choice. Decide against it, tame your tongue and walk away.

Scriptures on interpersonal relationships

Colossians 3: 12-25

  • 12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
  • 13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
  • 14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
  • 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
  • 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
  • 17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
  • 18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.
  • 19 Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.
  • 20 Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.
  • 21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.
  • 22 Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eye service, as men pleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God;
  • 23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
  • 24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
  • 25 But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

1 Corinthians 7:3  Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband –   (kindness, compassion, generosity, goodwill, largesse, bounty, charity, assistance, mercy, consideration, philanthropy, munificence)

Recommendations

Train and prepare children for future and continuously mentor the young men.  Engage men and boys in preventing violence against women and girls. Empower families through diffusion of gender power. This will require a reorientation on aversive norms.

Maintain the church as a place of refuge for battered spouses and children (Duncan, 2003)

Training for clergy and church leaders on dealing with domestic violence cases although research shows that most clergy do not see the need for specialized training (Livingston, 1994)

Government and nonprofit organizations should focus on assisting domestic violence victims

Education/public enlightenment: address the culture of blaming the victim e.g. he raped you because you dressed provocatively. Stop making the victim responsible for the aggressor’s choice of action or words. The mark of humanity as opposed to the base instinct of other mammals is temperance.

Toughening penalties against repeat sex or domestic violence offenders is important

Educating all stakeholders including victims, families, law enforcement officers, victim advocates, prosecutors and judges about domestic violence and sexual assault

Emphasize the need to report abuse to appropriate law enforcement authority

 

Women And Conflict in Nigeria

By

 

Bridget Osakwe

 

 

 

Recent conflict statistics show the increasing rate of civil based conflicts with women not only affected in more ways than men but are often targets for violent expression because of their gender. Also the continually reinforced patriarchal system means that the traumatic impact of violence and abuse on affected women are not adequately addressed as their needs and interests are often relegated to the background. Inadequate judicial structure means that often, a balanced reconciliation or restorative process is not followed.

 

As violent conflicts metamorphose and spread in Nigeria, it has become clear that the State institutions cannot sufficiently cope with the intervention alone. Women as key stakeholders in conflict prevention and peacebuilding have been underutilized and undermined. This is due to the fact that conflict and peace are highly gendered activities. Women and men not only have different access to power structures and material  resources before, during and after the escalation of a conflict; they also experience the pre-conflict phase, the open conflict, and the post-conflict situation in rather different ways. Violent conflicts in Nigeria communities as elsewhere in Africa illuminate masculinity and subjugate feminine expression. This situation has created a hierarchy where men are  relied upon to develop frameworks and strategies for preventing conflict and   rebuild violence torn societies. In a bid to ensure that their interests are duly considered, women groups have been working to promote gender  equality and partnership with men in all areas, including peace and security, bearing in mind their roles in community harmonization, mobilization and rehabilitation.

 

International instruments such as the UNSC Resolution 1325, and the other seven supporting resolutions- 1820, 1888, 1889, 1960, 2106, 2122, 2242 have broadened the discourse on issues of peace and security. This has strengthened the normative framework for women’s participation in decision-making, conflict prevention and peacebuilding; protection of women and girls’ rights; and prevention of sexual violence in conflict.   However, the women, peace and security agenda mandating women’s active participation and involvement in peace and security at all levels and sectors both formal and informal as well as emphasising issues of sexual violence in armed conflict and sanctioning perpetrators important for engendering peacebuilding are largely unknown.

 

Bridget Osakwe is National Network Cordinator of West African Network for peace building (WANEP), Nigeria  

 

 

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