Gender Based Violence in Education

 By

Adekunle Akinde

 

 

Girls’ education is as paramount as boys’ education for the development of the society. Women should be given equal opportunity in terms of education. On this note let’s take a look at gender-based violence and education.

Gender-based violence can be described as any form of violation or discrimination neither directly or indirectly against female as a result of physical, sexual and psychological against women and young girl. These can occur inform of rape, sexual harassment and intimidation at work and school, forced prostitution and women and girls trafficking.

The UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (DEVAW) adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1993 has been influenced by CEDAW General Recommendation No. 19. It defines VAW as: “Any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likley to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivations of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.” (Article 1) The declaration encompasses all forms of gender-based violence against women (physical, sexual and psychological), no matter in which context or setting they occur:

Gender-based violence most occurred against female sex than male across the world. While men and boys can also be a victims of violence through physical or verbal attacks for transgressing predominant concepts of masculinity. But the main focus here is violence against women and girls in schools because they are weak and vulnerable.

Meanwhile, it has been generally accepted that the majority of persons affected by gender-based violence are women and girls, due to imbalance dissemination of roles and power in the society between both sexes or as a result of gender discrimination.

The primary targets of GBV are women and adolescent girls, but not only are they at high risk of GBV, they also suffer exacerbated consequences as compared with what men endure. As a result of gender discrimination and their lower socio-economic status, women have fewer options and less resources at their disposal to avoid or escape abusive situations and to seek justice. They also suffer (…) consequences [on their sexual and reproductive health], including forced and unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions and resulting deaths, traumatic fistula, and higher risks of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV.” (UNFPA Strategy and Framework for Action to Addressing GBV, 2008-2011, p. 7)

As discussed gender-based violence, it also important to look at forms; physical and non-physical violence.

Forms of violence against women are: Domestic violence, Sexual violence, Physical violence, Emotional violence, Psychological violence and Economic violence.

Gender-based violence occurs at workplace and schools environments as a result of demand for sex in exchange for job position, promotion and opportunity. As it affects both sexes, women and girls are most affected in the society. Gender-based violence limits girl’s access to education and challenges in finding jobs after graduation.

Students suffer sexual harassment in higher institutions as lecturers’ demands for sex in other for pass marks. These can result in unwanted pregnancy which leads to abortion. In most case such student becomes sexual slave as often demands. Such victims developed emotional trauma and gradually morally destabilized in studies as the perpetrators continues to demand more. Most female students have faced series of violence neither from lecturers or fellow mate due to their physical appearance and beauty. Women and girls with big bottom or breast are mostly attracted to men in higher learning environment.

In most case, some young girls have left schools and unable to further their education as they are not able to withstand the sexual harassment faced in the learning environments. Sometimes, some are forced out of school due to pregnancy as some school would not allow their reentry anymore. At this stage, it is important to know that both married men and single men demand for sex at every point in time. This leads to the following: kidnapping, threats, attacks, harassments, physical and sexual assault. It is a serious harm to the female sex as it results to unwanted pregnancy and abortion. Many cases of gender violence in schools go unreported or under-reported because students fear victimization, punishment or ridicule.

Gender based violence is not specific to a social group, tribe, ethnicity, religion or particular country but a universal problem that caused serious violation to women and girls. Gender-based violence absolutely distresses girls’ self-esteem and ability to learn in school. This is even worsened by the fact that parents are often hesitant to speak out.

The big question is “How can this be eliminates in the educational sectors?” or the learning environment.

The persistent inequality between both sexes holds society in doubt and eventually generational challenge. Poverty is another important factor influencing female sexual abuse in school, at work and society at large. This leads many young girls into sexual service in exchange for money (transactional sex) or the sugar daddy syndrome to meet their financial needs. While on campus at the university some young girls engaged in transactional sex to make income as others see it a fashionable.

According to a graduate of one university: I used to see posh cars parked outside girls’ hostel mostly on Fridays. Men with big tummies would pull their heads out and seduce girls as they pass from supper or classes. Eventually they would hook up with some girls whom they would take out for discos and drinking sprees. Many of these girls ended up pregnant or getting infected with HIV AIDs. It never occurred to me that this was gender violence until later after when I got sensitized on gender violence. In the modern society sexual services are treated as commodities that should be paid for. Some of the girls had more than one “sugar daddy” at a time. However, this interaction may have negative effects. Also the type of interaction between teachers and male and female students raises issues. Transactional sex for “good exam results” is replicated both between teachers and pupils in schools and between students and teachers in training colleges. In some situations this becomes normalised, “it’s the way things are” yet girls are blamed from becoming pregnant and damaging family honour. Many schools do not accept their reentry as mothers yet the punishment on perpetrators is minimal of it all.

PRECAUTIONS:

  • Boys should be enlighten and trained in schools on gender-based violence and violence against women.
  • Parents should avoid fighting each other at home and uses of abuse words in the presence of their children.
  • Parents/guardians and teachers should teach about gender based violence in schools, homes and religions places.
  • Parents should listen to their child and take ACTION when they report such cases.

CONCLUSION:

Together we can make our educational/ institutions and the world at large a safe place by eliminating violence in education.

Adekule Akinde is the Communication and Media officer of Centre for 21st Century Issues

 

 

African marriages in the United States

 

Oko Elechi and Alaba Oludare

 

 

One of the best kept secrets in our community is the state of our marriages, according to one popular Pentecostal Church pastor in Houston Texas.  The obstacles facing African marriages in the United States is legion according to this pastor who I believe is in a position to know. He has the unenviable responsibility of counseling many couples and arbitrates on several marital conflicts in a given year. The marriage institution is perhaps the most important institution in the society and this is even more so for Africans that are communal. Again, Africans are by nature notoriously religious. Our religious beliefs do not encourage divorce and even frown at people who choose to live their lives single. Having children out of wedlock attracts a big stigma. And yet no one is talking about this problem and the couples are left to their own devices in dealing with the additional challenges marriages face in America for African immigrants with disastrous consequences. I believe the time has come for us to address this matter and have this long over-due conversation about the state of our marriages. Modern marriages, it is important to observe are fraught with challenges. Marriages among African immigrants in the United States have even bigger hurdles to cross as it may seem. If anecdotal accounts is anything to go by, more than fifty percent of African marriages in America have issues. Many are dysfunctional, some end in divorce eventually, and there have been few cases of the marital conflicts leading to fatality.

Some of my sources tell me money is a major source of marital conflict among African immigrants in America.  The root of this financial pressure derives from gender roles in African culture. African males were typically the bread winners and were able to decide how the family money was spent. In America, the women are also working and making money. And yet some of the men insist in controlling the money and in determining how the money will be spent. Added to this challenge is the expectations of families back home in Africa. Some of them expect that when their children – including the women are in America that they should be repatriating some of their earnings to support family upkeep and projects. If the money matter is not handled well, it can cause a big problem for the couple.

Another source of marital conflict is time, which is also tied to the monetary palaver. Some of the African immigrants have more than one jobs that keep them so busy that they hardly have time for one another. What this means is that couples are too busy for one another and are often too tired at the end of the day to show affection for one another. The resulting consequences is the lack of affection and distrust. Busyness is one reason some people stray. It is also why some question their partners love and commitment to them. There is no doubt we need a reorientation on how to balance work and family.   Investing more quality time into our relationships is important and can improve communication and understanding which is essential for a happy marriage.

Our penchant for materialism – big houses and cars both here and back home in Africa remains a big problem that undermines our marriages and family interests. We strive always to own bigger and better things than our compatriots often at the expense of our well-being and that of our families. Many even invest so much in a house that they may not likely live in or their children stand any chance of inheriting them. A friend of mine once describe the big houses we build back home, that we do not plan to live in or pass over to our children as “funeral homes”. This is because, the more realistic case for some is that they will be buried in the houses if the pas on. This is not wise and definitely takes from us things that are more important. We need to focus more on what matters most such as our health and emotional well-being. That will also improve the quality of our marriages. What is the point of owning a big car and big house if the additional cost is our well-being and happiness.

Marital infidelity remains a big problem in our community. Some even wrongly equate our polygamous culture with infidelity. It is true that some African cultures do allow and even encourage polygamous marriages. However, I do not know of any African culture that condones sex outside of marriages. Infidelity is a big problem that threatens the foundations of marriages. Unfortunately, there do not seem to be an easy answer to this problem. Self-discipline, maturity and focusing on things that have more value and family interest, no doubt well help.

Infertility, despite our living in a scientific society is also an issue that threatens our marriages. Rather than seek medical help from the appropriate quarters, some African couples will start pointing fingers at one another. Where there is love, maturity and sensitivity, answers to infertility in marriages can easily be addressed with satisfying results in my humble opinion.

There is also no denying the fact that some of us are stuck in our ways and often resisting any attempt to adjust the way we view the world. For example, some of us hold strongly to our understanding of what the gender roles are. This is unfortunate, especially given the fact that both the husband and wife in most cases work outside the homes and sometimes even for long hours. To expect that the woman will return from work and have your favorite food ready most of the time might seem unrealistic. The same can also be said of the wife who expects the husband to foot all the bills in the house while she uses her own money for something else that does not advance the welfare of the family can also constitute part of the marital problem.

finally, we can also learn some of the values of our host community. They make time to celebrate their marriage and love. They also in addition to showing love to their better halves, also verbally express their love often to their spouses. I do not know who does not like to hear you look good today. You smell nice. I love you and all the niceties that bring excitement to the heart. Please note that in delving into this sensitive topic, the goal was not to prescribe solutions because I do not think there are easy answers. Rather, my intention is to bring awareness and provoke conversation of the state of marriages in our community.

 

Lagos State Office of Civic Engagement On Gender Based Violence

 By
Hon. Taiwo Ayedun
The office of Civic Engagement which operates under the Deputy Governor’s Office is saddled with responsibility of enhancing interface between the Lagos State Government and Lagosians.  Among its duties is to enable the government have better insight into peoples’ challenges, needs and peculiar problems; and on the other way, to let the people know how they can deploy government’s apparatus to help them solve their problems and engaging in mutual partnership and cooperation on public matters.

One of the ways in which government is tackling women related issues is by addressing gender-based violence in the State.   Gender based violence is on the increase and below are the strategies with which Office of Civic Engagement has been working to reduce the menace:

Strategies
1.      Counselling: The OCE provides counselling supports for women who come out to report any anticipated case of gender violence ranging from rape attempt, to domestic violence, forced labour, forced prostitution and many more; while the office provide referrals on already blown cases or mild cases to Domestic and sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT),  Office of Public Defender and Citizens Mediation Centre (both under the Ministry of Justice) accordingly.

2.      Advocacy Supports: The OCE in some cases engages Civil Society organisations focusing on Human Rights issues to carry out advocacy against violence against women. The OCE has register of civil society organisations across the state and  encourage the organisations to provide voluntary supports to the victims  and advocate for positive changes in  behaviour to end violence.
3.      Financial Supports: The OCE provides soft funding to women who are going through various difficulties, some of the problems traceable to one form of abuse or the other in the past but which has continually affected their psychic and physical well-being. This financial supports help them in the rehabilitation process or starting life again.
4.      Mediation
The office also mediates at addressing issues capable of snowballing into violence against women, sometimes community related or family matters. We should bear in mind that when issues concerning men but with reflex impacts on women are addressed, gender violence has also been addressed. A good example is if a major crisis breaks out among commercial transport operators in a park, women become victims of attack and rape, so we act to prevent such scenario in order to save women from being violated and molested.
5.      Public Enlightenment
The office also carries out seminars and symposiums from time to time in partnership with other ministries and departments and do invite women to benefit from matters that concerns their rights and well-being. This is another way to nip in the bud matters capable of affecting the women in our community.
Conclusion
The Office of civic Engagement is committed to working in synergy with all stakeholders to end all forms of Violence in Lagos state.

Hon Taiwo Ayedun is the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of Lagos State
on Civic Engagement

Sexual Violence And Trends In Lagos State Higher Institutions

 

By

 

Damilola Adeoye

 

The increasing trend of sexual assault of female students in higher institutions of learning in Lagos State as replete in media reportages is disheartening. More worrisome is the apathetic attitude school authorities display on such problem considering the botched way cases of sexual violence are handled. In a lot of incidents, no stringent actions are taken against perpetrators of rape of female students who are usually the male members of the academic staff and students. Reason for this is not farfetched, Nigeria as a society is enmeshed in a patriarchal system. In simple term, a man can denigrate a woman without a collective challenge by his fellow men.

According to a recent baseline media monitoring conducted under the project title: Mainstreaming Gender Reporting on Affirmative Action of Women and Girls Rights Issues by Journalists for Christ (JFC) Nigeria, it was observed that there is a preference for men to be quoted as sources over women in issues that concern women. This only poses a critical thought that if the presence of women as sources in media reports is low especially in issues that relate to them, does this not indicate an infringement on their basic right to defend themselves? This observation distinctly reveals the triviality accorded women in Nigeria media.

Due to reprisal attacks ranging from threat of failing a female victim by lecturers to physical violence; even death by other culprits, most cases go unreported. The shame of being stigmatized and lack of information to access justice are also factors. Though an academic terrain, where victims and culprits are supposed to know the consequences and laws guiding sexual violence, the traditional practices of keeping mum in a male-dominated environment still seeps its way through the walls of these higher institutions of learning. Most students in tertiary institutions in Lagos State are not even aware of the legal repercussions of committing sexual violence crimes, they do not know that these crimes can lead to life imprisonment, hence, offenders can always go free and brag about their actions consequently stoking negatively the fire of this sinister act. The schools are also culpable in these crimes because most of them do not have detailed rules to resolve sexual violence crimes and their attendant issues.

Female students on school campuses had been accused of indecent dressing making them susceptible to sexual assault, thus, the resultant rape cases. However, no excuse in any form should be accepted as a reason to sexually violate a woman. Sexual violence is a violation of women’s rights; it portends health problems such as those causing victims to contract the deadly HIV. Reports have revealed that increase in HIV developed from sexual violence cases, and the emotional pain caused by this health issue is also a form of violence.

Conversely, female students who are considered vulnerable to sexual crimes are not the only victims; male lecturers have accused the women of sexually seducing them in order to gain good grades. When they do not comply, the female students usually resort to blackmail. Some male lectures have even complained of threats of rape by female students who seek academic favours and this situation makes them feel insecure on school campuses. Similarly, female lecturers have also been accused of sexually harassing young male students.

In order to curb cases of sexual violence on campuses of tertiary institutions in Lagos State, The Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) recently began various sensitization and enlightenment campaign across the city.  This is in addition to  the massive actions been taken by other women and gender based organizations to address Gender based violence in Lagos state .

The need to especially focus on curbing sexual violence  and indeed Gender based violence in higher institutions of learning in Nigeria  cannot be overemphasized.  It is therefore imperative for civil society organizations and all stakeholders  to extend their advocacy to tertiary institutions to  enable a peaceful environment for students to be  educated in order to fulfill their potentials in  life.

 

Damilola Adeoye holds a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Botany from Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye,Ogun State.  She  works with Centre for 21st Century Issues and coordinates the organizations projects on women’s rights and environment including Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 

 

Keep Girls Safe in School in the 21st Century

Vivian  Ifeoma Emesowum 

 

A safe environment is instrumental for breaking patterns of violent behaviour in the society. It allows skill building that enable girls to communicate, negotiate and develop high self esteem to personal development. A safe school is a fundamental agent for achieving growth and leadership. It establishes behaviour patterns that reduce gender based violence in wider society. To invest in achieving a safe and gender responsive schools gives a girl the opportunity to reach her full potential and thrive.

Among the barriers that stop girls from fulfilling their full potential is school-related gender based violence (SRGBV).  GBV is a social and human rights problem that is rooted in social inequalities among men and women. It is a problem that occurs in all parts of the globe, and while GBV has gained more attention over the years, it remains inadequate. Gender-based violence covers child sexual abuse, sex trafficking, sexual assault, domestic violence, early child marriage, violence in schools, female genital mutilation/cutting, forced labor and more.  It limits girls’ enrolment, undermines their participation and achievements, and increases absenteeism and dropout rates. Kidnapping of girls is becoming another angle of violence in recent times. The kidnapping of about 276 girls from government secondary school in the town of Chibok in Borno state by the Boko Haram sect in April 14, 2014 will continue to be a story to tell in the history of Nigeria

Education is a human right and a powerful tool of empowerment, and schools are important spaces in which to build respectful relationships between boys and girls. Education can equip girls with the skills and knowledge to develop livelihoods and learn about their rights, and to break cycles of poverty.  However, girls all over the world face violence and intimidation in, around, and on their way to and from school.

Girls experience violence even in the hands of fellow students, teachers, school administrators and others. They may face sexual harassment, bullying, cyber violence or may be asked for sexual favours in exchange for good grades or school fees. In some communities, the route to school may be unsafe

Many girls, particularly the most marginalized, continue to be deprived of the right to education; they are more likely to have caring responsibilities within their families and when resources are short. The failure to ensure girls are able to access their right to education has profound effects on individuals as well as wider society. For girls, lack of education has lifelong consequences, such as increasing the likelihood they will enter into situations of economic dependence in which their vulnerability to violence may be increased. For society at large, the transformative potential of girls’ education is immense for the achievement of almost all development goals.

“Improve the safety of girls at and on the way to and from school, including by establishing a safe and violence free environment by improving infrastructure such as transportation, providing separate and adequate sanitation facilities, improved lighting, playgrounds and safe environments; adopting national policies to prohibit, prevent and address violence against children, especially girls, including sexual harassment and bullying and other forms of violence, through measures such as conducting violence prevention activities in schools and communities, and establishing and enforcing penalties for violence against girls”,

“Develop policies and programmes, giving priority to formal and informal education programmes that support girls and enable them to acquire knowledge, develop self-esteem and take responsibility for their own lives, including access to a sustainable livelihood; and place special focus on programmes to educate women and men, especially parents and caregivers, on the importance of girls’ physical and mental health and well-being, including the elimination of child, early and forced marriage, violence against women and girls, female genital mutilation, child sexual exploitation, including commercial sexual exploitation, sexual abuse, rape, incest and abduction, and the elimination of discrimination against girls such as in food allocation”;

The impact of violence in schools extends far beyond the act itself. School-related violence can lead to poor attendance, lower academic results, and higher drop-out rates – not to mention the emotional and mental toll it often causes. Girls who experience violence also have higher fertility rates and lower health status. In the face of danger, everyday school life becomes fraught with fear and anxiety – rather than being the key to a fulfilling future.

 

Vivian Ifeoma Emesowum  is the Executive Director of Grassroot People and Gender Development Center (GRADE) and secretary of Lagos State Gender Advocacy Team (LASGAT.)  She is a gender advocate, health educator, researcher, citizen journalist, a writer and grassroots development practitioner with over 15 years experience promoting sustainable development at the grassroots through innovative strategies in Nigeria.

 

Gender Based Violence Among Nigerian Immigrants in Southwest Houston

 

By Dr. Alaba Oludare

 

The Greater Houston area has been identified by the U.S. Department of States to have the highest number of Nigerian immigrants. About 150,000 Nigerians live in Houston as of 2014. Although most of these families are very progressive and highly educated, the problem of gender based violence plagues the community.  Research on gender based violence among African communities has been very scarce, hence little is known about the challenges faced by women particularly in these communities. Although men are also likely victims and do suffer gender based violence, research has shown that male victims of gender violence are often  those in an intimate partner relationship with an American citizen especially for green card reasons where the gender roles are played differently based on cultural differences of the partners.  The discourse here is  focused on gender based violence among  Nigerians in diaspora.

Some of the reasons advanced for gender based violence in these families include stress, economic hardships, social and cultural expectations, third party interventions and mental/ psychological or spiritual problems.  Often, migrants are faced with the challenge of balancing the traditional gender roles with the realities of lifestyles in the western world. Generally, females acquire an enhanced sense of independence; the males are faced with a diminished perception of power and control. In the family’s quest to attain the American dream and possibly take care of people at home, both partners go out to work long hours. Sometimes, the female works longer than the male; and sometimes the males are either unemployed or under employed yet the female is still required to come back after prolonged hours of work to cook, clean up and perform other duties while responsibility for bills and upkeep are shared. Many Nigerian women especially those in the Nursing field have died due to pressure, ill-health or physical violence (including being stabbed, shot, strangled, scaled with hot liquids etc.) because of the conflicts arising from these roles.

Unfortunately, gender based violence is largely unreported for many reasons and particularly, because of cultural beliefs that, “you don’t go to court or police and come back home as friends” and patriarchal hierarchy where the male is accorded a superior position in the marriage relationship. Patriarchal hierarchy is not uniquely Nigerian so that some critics have argued that it is not a license for abuse in a relationship.  Reportedly, most women‘s approach at resolving the dilemma is first to report to family members and or close friends. The next step is usually to report to religious leaders.  Unfortunately, these strategies are often unsuccessful and the woman is viewed as a prostitute, disrespectful or proud. She is stigmatized and in some churches seen as a backslider or no longer fit to minister, she is perpetually stigmatized and shamed.

Spouses in a violent relationship should not be intimidated to seek help or even get out of danger as an alternative to being maimed or killed. All stake holders must be educated and informed about the consequences of violence on the individual, the family and society. Religious and community leaders should be trained on how to handle domestic violent cases without stigmatizing anyone. Everyone especially men should be educated on the legal consequences of domestic violence and physical assaults regarded as felony under the law. An aggressor could end in prison for any period of time from 1 to 10 years or more with fines in addition to disenfranchisement, loss of earning potentials, citizenship, student loans and other benefits. Children are the most impacted in violent homes. First, these children are learning by experience that it is alright to abuse and/or be abused, inadvertently producing a next generation of abusers.  Research has shown that first generation immigrants have lower criminal records than their children. Why is this so? Second, violence in a home is unhealthy to all both physically and spiritually.

Violent behavior is a product of anger, an inability to rule one’s emotions. It is a character flaw, and often an episode of insanity. It is self-destructive. All religions and civilization condemn manifestations of anger whether implosive or explosive. Love is a choice that God made in our favor, giving us such grace that we do not deserve. If you love your spouse, you will not beat or destroy him/her. No man in his right mind destroys what he loves rather he cherishes and seek to keep that which he loves forever in perfect condition.

 

Dr. Alaba Oludare is an Attorney and a Professor residing in the United States. She obtained her first law degree (LL.B, B.L.) from Lagos State University and Nigerian Law School. She has tertiary institution teaching experience including teaching Administration of Justice courses at Texas Southern University, teaching and coordinating the criminal justice program at Rust College, Holly Springs, MS as well as serving as the Pre Law Adviser. Alaba also has legal practice experience including Legal Advising to the Federal Road Safety Commission, and Corporate Attorney with LLM degree in Tax Law from University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa; She is presently teaching criminal justice courses at Mississippi Valley State University and actively involved in health disparity research training as one of 25 scholars from different universities across the United States.

WOMEN AND CHILDREN AT THE RECEIVING END OF VIOLENT ATTACKS IN NIGERIA

The series of bomb attacks which rocked the Northern Nigerian city of kano on 20th January, 2012 and later escalated to Bauchi state (Another state in Northern Nigeria) has been described as the deadliest and unprecedented evil ever to be perpetrated in our land. The bomb attacks unleashed by the dreaded Islamic Jihadist Boko Haram (Meaning western education is sin) sect have continued unabated to become almost a daily occurrence. As of 26th of January, it was reported that about 30 gunmen rained bombs and gunfire on a police station in Kano, killing a woman.  The death tolls from the attacks have risen to over 250.

In recent times, the spates of violent attacks motivated by religion, ethnicity or other causes have become recurrent feature of our social life. Women and children in Nigeria continue to suffer disproportionately from these orgies of violence either as victims or survivors, since over 2years when the attacks assumed a dangerous dimension.

The most pitiable aspect is the cruel manner and gruesome pattern of violence which have been unleashed particularly on women and children in the wake of these attacks. On many occasions, pregnant women, lactating mothers and children have been wickedly, brutalized, maimed and hacked down by machetes or destroyed by bomb blasts.  Though, it is apparent that the reproductive and domestic responsibilities of women and the weak nature of children make them more vulnerable to these attacks. But the conduct and frequency of the striking pattern of the attacks on women and children which occurred in the Jos, a city in Northern, part of Nigeria however suggest that women and children are deliberately targeted

One of such attacks occurred on March 7, 2010, in 3 farming villages near Jos, plateau state, where over 500 people including many women and children were slaughtered.  Barely a week after this attacks, another violent attack occurred which left about 12 people dead. Victims of the attacks included pregnant women and children who were wickedly burnt to death and some had their tongues cut out.

In a striking resemblance to the Jos attack of March 2010, again, on February 23, 2011 armed attack by Fulani and Hausa men on Bere Village, near Jos in Nigeria’s Plateau State, left two men and 16 women and children dead. In that attack, a woman, Sarah Isuwa was reported to have been killed together with three of her children. Her eldest daughter Salomi who was heavily pregnant was not spared from the machetes of the attackers. One-year-old Hope Pam was also killed with her mother as they tried to flee from the attackers. Their bodies were found a few metres from their home, with her mother bent over and cuddling Hope in an attempt to shield her from the bullets and machetes. A similar pattern of attack was recorded on 28th of December, 2011 in another village near Jos where a husband and wife with their child were found dead with bullets holes all over them.

However, other attacks have not indicated any deliberate target on women and children but many women and children have suffered severely from these attacks. On 29th December, 2011, attackers threw a bomb into an Arabic school  in Delta state, southern Nigeria wounding six children and an adult. In a communal clash which occurred on 2nd of January, 2012; between two communities; Ezillo and Ezza in Ebonyi state of Nigeria, children between the ages of three to five and women were reported to be among the victims of the attacks which claimed about 66 lives.

Families have been wiped out, many have become widowers and widows and many more have been turned barren at old age by these callous attacks. One Ms Dike a member of the St. Theresa Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger State, near Abuja where the deadliest of the Boko Haram Bomb blast occurred on 2011 Christmas day, cried out in despair thus “I have lost my husband and my children. I have lost all. My life is empty and void. I don’t know where to go now. No husband and no child; where do I start my life? Somebody should tell me I am dreaming”. http://www.thenationonlineng.net/2011/index.php/news/31355-my-agony-by-woman-who-lost-husband-five-children.html

Another woman, Mary Pam  who managed to escape the 28th of December 2011 attacks which occurred near Jos, narrated how she managed to escape, according to her “When the Fulani herdsmen came around late in the night, I managed to escape through the window before they killed my son, daughter-in-law and grand-daughter with guns,”

The grotesque pictures of the pattern of violence visited on women and children are better imaged than experienced. Many who witnessed the violence suffered by these women and children continued to be haunted by its memories?

This senseless and mindless pattern of  violent attacks especially on women and children is becoming one too many and is gravitating towards a dangerous boiling point which may erupt into serious conflicts or full scale civil war if immediate measures are not taken to nip it in the bud.

The Nigerian Government rather than help the situation decided to further overheat the system by removing the fuel subsidy on the 1st of January. This sparked off the #Occupy Nigeria movement protests which crippled the country for over one week, plunging more women who are already poor into deeper poverty. Watch the video documentary of Nigerian Women views of the removal of the fuel subsidy, #Women Occupy Niaja….http://youtu.be/bHZurWPn8rY  and  NIGERIAN WOMEN SAY ABSOLUTE NO TO FUEL SUBSIDY REMOVAL |www.worldpulse.com

The imposition of state of emergency on 15 local government areas hardest hit by Boko Haram’s violent attacks did not deter the attackers rather the situation became worse.

The Nigerian government appeared clueless and powerless as to what measures to take to curb these attacks, till date government is yet to take any concrete security measures to protect the lives and properties of the Nigerian people against these attacks.  They have rendered little or no assistance to families who have suffered these attacks as many who survived the attacks but are injured continue to suffer in ill- equipped hospitals without adequate medical care.  The hospitals in Kano were reported to be over stretched as a result of the bomb attacks of 20th of January, 2012 and in such situations there is tendency to give preference to treating injured men and boys above women and girls

The arrest of the leader of the Boko Haram sect who had claimed  responsibility for most of these violent attacks and his subsequent escape from police custody have further heightened the level of insecurity and eroded the trust the public have in government to protect and safeguard their lives and properties.

The inability to identify the people who have lost their lives, coupled with lack of accurate and credible data of deaths from these attacks have also not helped matters.   Getting the actual numbers of women, men, boys and girls who have been devastated by these attacks continue to be a big challenge.  Many a times, government have deliberately downplayed and reduced the actual number of casualties resulting from these attacks,  as a result the number of casualties are been regarded as mere data instead of  human beings whose lives government have responsibility to account for. Inability to identify victims of these attacks has left many families in despair. Many are not certain whether their loved ones are either dead or missing. This steady and gradual descent into violence and chaos is a worrisome development which many believed may lead to the disintegration of Nigeria.

Nigerian women have on many occasions carried out protests, fasted and prayed and written several petitions to the government all to no avail.  It is high time government took this issue very seriously by conducting thorough investigations into the attacks and maximum penalty imposed on the perpetrators to deter future occurrence.  It is also of utmost importance for government and the broader civil society to conduct an investigation into the striking pattern of attacks on women and children to uncover the actual motive behind such patterns for appropriate interventions. Effective procedures must be put in place to facilitate timely identification of victims in other to give accurate accounts and sex – disaggregated data of death tolls.

It is instructive also that adequate security measures which take cognizance of the peculiarities of women and children should be prioritize in finding sustainable solutions that will guarantee the lives and properties of the Nigerian people. Taking these steps with other security measures will help reduce fatalities and manage impacts of such violent attacks on women and children in Nigeria.