How liberated are we

saareads
Posted March 16, 2017 from Nigeria
Picture Credit: Michael Fleshman on Flicker
Hundreds of people gathered at Union Square in New York City on May 3 to demand the release of some 230 schoolgirls, now women, abducted by Boko Haram insurgents in Nigeria.
Mother and son
Mother and son: Faces distorted to protect the identity of the mother and the son who is underage. (1/2)

Women have been fighting to be free, free of the tie-downs that make life unbearable. Freedom to choose, to love, to be happy. Once upon a time....even freedom to vote, to drive a car.

For some, dying would have been easierthan living through what women had to endure for the past century.

We have achievedwhat our forefathers never imagined possible, we survived a sentence worse than death and we became free women.

However, despite these achievements, we cannot say it’s rosy for the majority as the situations of women are different in the different facets of the globe.

In the Beijing Declaration adopted in 1995 by the Fourth World Conference on Women, participating Governments expressed their commitment “to advance the goals of equality, development and peace for all women everywhere in the interest of humanity”.

We must focus on the stark reality that women suffer disproportionately from poor access to health services, to victimization by harmful traditions, despite these promises.

Because the status of women many countries is so many centuries behind the modern world that it is hard for othersto visualize.

A girl/lady who worked in a house i lived, for about four year came visiting with her two obviously sick children, (she does not realize) from a village that is without electricity, much more clean water.

In the village, when a girl turns 13, she is sent to work as a domestic help, goes through the worst degradation (in most cases, which I am a witness), to save up for a marriage ceremony.

According to the person that ‘shares’ them out to various houses far from their communities, the money is not to be paid directly to the girls but to guardians or in some instances, to the girl’s parents. She has no right to spend a dime and she does not.

They purportedly save the total (which has been increased to as much as N10, 000, or $35, depending on the state you’re sent to) marry her off at 20 years (none of them knows how old they are).

I witness one being flogged with a rod-like cane because she mistakenly dropped an empty tray. Same girl was given a thunderous slap on her face because there was a water-ring on the dining table and her ‘boss’ was in a bad mood.

Today she’s married with two children and because she came to my house without her husband’s consent, she will be flogged by the husband mercilessly, according to her.

She tells me it’s common in her village, that a girl’s parent encourages husbands to beat, some are beaten to unconsciousness.

I asked what then will you do, and she replied, “It’s just beating, I’m use to it. Our parents say we should stay in our husband’s house even if they beat us to death.

Sadly, tomorrow she abruptly returns home because her husband summons and she know her body is in for a good thrashing, “my father will surely join my husband in beating me, it’s no problem, my mother is going through the same.”

The story of this one girl resonant in her village of 5000 people, majority of whom are women but victimized.

How can I help her, when she is unaware she’s being victimized?

Comments 4

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Jill Langhus
Mar 17, 2017
Mar 17, 2017

Hi Saareads. Thanks for sharing your sad story. Could it be that she is aware but just feels powerless? What are her options if she did decide to leave her marriage? Is there a hotline or supportive community to help her?

saareads
Mar 17, 2017
Mar 17, 2017

Leaving her marriage would be a taboo. Even sadder is that the vicious circle is continuing as i noticed she hits her son as severely as she's being hit. I told her that abused children could also become bullies when they grow up, and tend to be violent toward other people especially their spouse, i tried to make her see that she's also a part of the problem by subjecting the 4 year old to persistent slaps on the face over the must minutest of things. I suggested that i link her up with a group just to talk, but unfortunately, her community is in a very remote area and it will not be easy to travel through and from town as one would hope.  

Jill Langhus
Mar 18, 2017
Mar 18, 2017

Yes, that's what I thought, although at this point, if she's constantly still getting beaten, it makes a person wonder. That is sad. Well, at least you pointed it out. Maybe it will sink in and give her something to think about. Does she have internet access? Can she join a Facebook community or other for online support? That could be beneficial to her in the times that she finds it difficult to travel to the support group. What about giving her a book on abuse and abusive patterns? Perhaps that could help her and would resonate with her? Good luck:)

melissabric
Mar 19, 2017
Mar 19, 2017

Saareads, 

Thank you so much for sharing this story. It is so difficult to hear of such stories, yet they are far too common. You raise a very important, yet difficult to answer question "how can we help, when she doesn't realize she's a victim?" I wish I had an answer, but because I do not know or understand about her culture, I cannot offer an answer that seems appropriate. Perhaps the focus could be on questioning where this "tradition" or "normal way of life" between husband/wife and father/daughter started in the first place? What is the purpose of communicating in this way? Maybe creating a movement around shifting the mens' attitudes about this? Again, thank you for sharing and opening up about these inequalities... Sending positive and healing energy. 

Melissa