OPINION: WOMEN’S LIVES MATTER TOO

women

A report claiming that a woman was beaten to death by her husband after she denied him sex, which recently popped up on the Internet, portrays the exact way women are seen and treated in this part of the world.

The report also brings to mind the fact that many women are still going through such experience in their matrimonial homes, but have decided to be silent about it in an effort to protect their husbands and children while ignoring the fact that their lives are at stake.

The report stated that the deceased had endured physical abuse in her marriage for a long time, but she decided to stay out of her husband’s way on the fateful day by locking herself up in her room. Yet, he went knocking on her door at midnight.

The woman must have made an effort to run for her life when she realised that the husband was about to break into her room with an axe. Unknown to her, he had heard the sound of the window opening. He caught up with her and hit her head on her head, beat her blue black until she lost consciousness.

The couple’s neighbors did not show up until everything had died down. Eventually they took her to a hospital, the third one at that, where she was finally admitted for treatment. Unfortunately she gave up the ghost after writhing in pain for many days at a stretch.

This is a sad and heartbreaking story, a shocking example of domestic violence. How could a so-called husband descend to such demeaning level to hurt his wife? For the record, such a case is not limited to Nigeria; violence against women is also common in other parts of the world, even in developed countries.  According to the findings of the United Nations office on Drugs And Crimes (UNODC), the largest number (20,000) of women killed worldwide by intimate partners or relations in 2017 came from Asia, followed by Africa (19,000), America (8,000) Europe (3,000) and Oceania (300).

However, with an intimate partner/family-related homicide rate of 3.1 per 100,000 female populations, Africa is the region where women run the greatest risk of being killed by their intimate partners or relations, while Europe with 0.7 per 100,000 population is the region where the risk is lowest.

The intimate partner/family-related homicide rate was also high in the Americas in 2017 at 1.6 per 100,000 female population, as well as Oceania at 1.3, and Asia, at 0.9.

It is widely known that women generally encounter violence almost everywhere in the society. Research established that globally, an estimated 736 million women, almost one in three women, have been subjected to intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence or both, at least once in their life (30 per cent of women aged 15 and older).

Current or former husbands or intimate partners perpetrate most violence against women. More than 640 million women aged 15 and older have been subjected to violence by their intimate partners (26 per cent of women aged 15 and older).

It is estimated that of the 87,000 women who were intentionally killed in 2017 globally, more than half (50,000) were killed by intimate partners or family members. More than one third (30,000) of the women intentionally killed in 2017 were killed by their current or former intimate partners.

It is high time African men changed their mentality on bride price because most of them see it as nothing other than an exchange for a woman’s life and this gives the men authority over women, who are denied their fundamental human rights. Among African men, it is common for the husbands to be extremely jealous and this makes them to interfere with their wives’ freedom of movement.

After getting married, most African women no longer have freedom of association or movement. Some of them who decide to forcefully regain their freedom are seen as arrogant and they get beaten and maltreated. In some cases, the mistreatment of such women eventually leads to their eventual deaths.

Some husbands stop their wives from practising what they have spent years studying in the university. Women who refuse to idle away at home, who work tirelessly to improve their financial status, get home most of the time to meet angry husbands who act as time keepers monitoring the length of time spent at work or other places as a prelude to starting arguments that might lead to violence.

One of the causes of violence is male dominance, which is more prominent in Africa. Africans attach more importance to masculinity than femininity. In fact, female children are not seen as important or valued at all in some African societies. They are seen as a burden to the family and this explains why they are married off at a very tender age.

Since the male children are exposed to dominance right from home, they in turn see themselves as superior to their partners in marriage. Cultural differences can also contribute to violence in a relationship that involves people with different cultural backgrounds.

Alcoholism and drugs can also contribute to violence in marriage. Partners who drink to stupor or indulge in drug abuse are most likely to be violent to their partners because of the effect of drug and alcohol on their mental balance. According to a source, 92 percent of men who assaulted their female partners had used substances on the day of the assault. About 67 per cent of such men had used both cocaine and alcohol. In situations where men try to kill their partners, alcohol is involved in more than two-thirds of the cases, just as a quarter of those who committed murder had consumed alcohol and drugs.

Notwithstanding, if penalties for violence towards women are consistent and firm, there will be a drastic decrease in domestic violence. In some countries, justice is not prevalent as some of the perpetrators go unpunished while in underdeveloped countries, law enforcement agents take bribes and sweep such matters under the carpet.

Also, if couples are made to sign an undertaking not to be violent in any way to their partners and to willingly surrender themselves to the law if such happens, it will reduce the rate of domestic violence and the mortality rate among women.

Cases of violence against women should not be trivialised by any means. But it is surprising how law enforcement agents wave the issue of violence aside but go on to arrest offenders when the victims die, leaving their children and loved ones to fate.

Majority of the women who endure to the point of death, do so because they are financially dependent on their husbands. If women were empowered, they would  be independent and easily walk out of an abusive marriage.

Reports have it that a staggering 97.2 percent of abused women do not report the crime to the authorities. There is no point in proving to the society that one is a submissive wife when one’s life is at stake because in the end,it will only turn the husband into a criminal after taking one’s life.

Women are not animals and should in no way be treated as such. They deserve every possible love and care they can get from the society, especially from their partners. Give them their rights and stop killing them because their lives matter not just to their children but also to the society at large.

By Damilola Adeparua