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ASSESSMENT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST; THE SCOURGE OF THE SOCIETY. A CASE STUDY OF UYO METROPOLIS
1.1 BACKGROUND OF STUDY
Violence against women is a fundamental human rights violation, rooted in unjust and unequal power and gender relations and structures in our societies. These are upheld by rigid and unjust social, economic, legal and cultural norms that determine a woman’s, often unequal, role in her home, her community and her workplace. Violence against women is a form of gender-based violence, which is “a harmful act or threat based on a person’s sex or gender identity. It includes physical, sexual and psychological abuse, coercion, denial of liberty and economic deprivation whether occurring in public or private spheres.” (CARE, 2015, p.1). Evidence has found that communities with higher levels of violence against women share the following expressions of gender inequality: condoning of violence against women; men’s control of decision-making and limits to women’s independence; rigid gender roles and identities; and male peer relations that emphasize aggression and disrespect towards women (Our Watch, 2015, p.8).
Millions of women have died, been disabled and suffered psychological trauma as a result of this violence. Women and their families bear the highest burden of social and economic costs, including shame and stigma. It affects their participation in education, employment, civic life and politics, and impedes their access and control over resources – increasing poverty and inequality. Patriarchal institutions and systems that view violence against women as a ‘private problem’ have meant that this violence is often made invisible, resulting in solutions being under-funded, including by governments and private companies. But as this report shows, governments also bear a significant burden of costs in terms of service delivery, as do companies in lost productivity in the workplace.
The fact that violence against women is a fundamental human rights violation is, in itself, sufficient justification for action. Understanding the scourge of violence against women provides additional arguments and evidence for why preventing and responding to violence against women should be a top priority. This report is also, therefore, an urgent call to governments, donors and the private sector to prioritize and make budgetary allocations to prevent and address this violation. The costs can also be saved when violence is prevented in the first place (primary prevention). Investing in the prevention of violence is a cost-effective approach for states: studies show, for instance, that by investing in the effective implementation of behavioural, legal and regulatory solutions, states will save on the cost of responding to violence (Laxminarayan et al., 2006, p.48).
Some governments and donors are already making efforts to cost interventions as well as adopt gender-responsive budgeting to assess how public resources are allocated and spent to tackle violence against women. The results from these efforts provide policymakers with direction on how resources could be best allocated and mobilized towards violence prevention.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
This study’s problem was based on, the researcher’s experiences, conversations and observations on the happenings in families and the society at large. The family is often equated with sanctuary, a place where individuals seek love, safety, security, and shelter. But the evidence shows that it is also a place that imperils lives, and breeds some of the most drastic forms of violence perpetrated against women and girls. Violence in the domestic sphere is usually perpetrated by males who are, or who have been, in positions of trust and intimacy and power – husbands, boyfriends, fathers, fathers-in-law, stepfathers, brothers, uncles, sons, or other relatives. Domestic violence and intimate partner violence is in most cases violence perpetrated by men against women. Women can also be violent, but their actions account for a small percentage of domestic and intimate relationship violence
Violence has a profound effect on women. Beginning before birth, in some countries, with sex-selective abortions, or at birth when female babies may be killed by parents who are desperate for a son, it continues to affect women throughout their lives. Each year, millions of girls undergo female genital mutilation. Female children are more likely than their brothers to be raped or sexually assaulted by family members, by those in positions of trust or power, or by strangers. In some countries, when an unmarried woman or adolescent is raped, she may be forced to marry her attacker, or she may be imprisoned for committing a “criminal” act. Those women who become pregnant before marriage may be beaten, ostracized or murdered by family members, even if the pregnancy is the result of a rape.
After marriage, the greatest risk of violence for women continues to be in their own homes where husbands and, at times, in-laws, may assault, rape or kill them. When women become pregnant, grow old, or suffer from mental or physical disability, they are more vulnerable to attack. Husbands and wives do not discuss family issues but husbands take sole decisions. Through interactions with friends and colleagues, women talk about their situations at home, there they are commonly abused by their spouses through battering, sexual abuse, giving out female children in marriage at the early years and depriving them neither to participate in the decision of child marriage nor to take part in family affairs. Such early marriages limit education, affects young girls’ academic pursuits, the future compromised and other opportunities often leading to early child bearing and increased health risks. Early child bearing affects female reproductive organs and health problems such as unsafe abortion, and obstetric fistula. Husbands take decision whether it suits the family or not. Though most wives and children suffer the consequences of the heads of the family’s decisions. It is also observed that violation of women at home has made women situation difficult to participate fully in issues concerning them in the home and in the society. As such, women have no freedom to speak for themselves because of fear of punishment from their husbands. Men think women are meant for giving birth, taking care of the children and doing only domestic works.
However, While the impact of physical abuse may be more ‘visible’ than psychological scarring, repeated humiliation and insults, forced isolation, limitations on social mobility, constant threats of violence and injury, and denial of economic resources are more subtle and insidious forms of violence. The intangible nature of psychological abuse makes it harder to define and report, leaving the woman in a situation where she is often made to feel mentally destabilized and powerless.
Jurists and human rights experts and activists have argued that the physical, sexual and psychological abuse, sometimes with fatal outcomes, inflicted on women is comparable to torture in both its nature and severity. It can be perpetrated intentionally, and committed for the specific purposes of punishment, intimidation, and control of the woman’s identity and behaviour. It takes place in situations where a woman may seem free to leave, but is held prisoner by fear of further violence against herself and her children, or by lack of resources, family, legal or community support. Consequently, the problem statement of the study therefore seek to understand the scourge of violence against women in our contemporary society most especially Uyo Metropolis in Akwa Ibom state