International Women's Day 2015

We join women around the world to mark this International Women's Day. Hundreds of millions of Women and girls suffer many forms of violence within and outside their families. Violence against women and girls remain one of the oldest form of violence in known history and one of the most pervasive. Violence against women and girls including sexual atrocities go unreported, un-investigated, un-prosecuted, or unpunished in many communities in Nigeria. it is clear that some societies and communities have made grossly insufficient progress in addressing one of the most pervasive and insidious forms of violence. It is incumbent upon law enforcement agencies, governments, citizens, families, medical centers, neighbours, educators, and organizations, among others, to redouble efforts to establish accountability for the sexual violence directed against half the world’s population. Until that becomes the case women and girls will continue to suffer violence both in intimate relationships and in societies. We need to stop stigmatizing victims of gender violence instead punish and stigmatize the perpetrators and others responsible for violent gender atrocities, in this way communities will be helped to recognize violence against women and girls for what it is, abuse of human rights, a crime deserving of everyone's condemnation.

In many communities in Nigeria, women are expected to behave with subservience to their husbands, and domestic violence is often accepted as part of marriage. Amnesty International observes that many believe that a woman is "expected to endure whatever she meets in her matrimonial home" , and to provide "sex and obedience" to her husband, who has the right to violate and batter her if she fails to meet marital duties. For some victims, domestic violence is seen as a sign of love. Gender violence is also often viewed by communities in Nigeria as a necessary corrective tool for women. There is poor knowledge about human rights, a factor resulting in increased cases of gender violence as this is not seen as a crime.

It is deeply troubling that a broad range of gender violence continues to flourish in the year 2015´in Nigeria, and it is equally disheartening that these crimes have a low probability of receiving any form of accountability. If we are to have any hope of improvement for future generations of women and girls, we must invest significantly more into efforts to prevent and punish these crimes, and make addressing them a priority. This is not going to be easy in the face of religious extremism, propaganda, male chauvinism, and indifference. But we must persevere, for the sake of humanity. In a nation where half of the population are not allowed to use their potential to the full, the society deprives itself of the opportunity to achieve its potential as a nation. If you want to improve communities, then you must improve the lives of women and girls.

This is why SpringAid International Development together with other civil societies in Owerri today marked this year's International Women Day by calling on the Government of Imo State to take issues of women seriously and see all forms gender violence against women as not just an issue for women but for everyone.
SAID, Advocacy Coordinator