Dear President Obama and Secretary Clinton,
As a Nigerian woman, I am concerned for the present state and the future of the girl child and of women in my country. There are elements of my culture that enable continued violence against women. Men who beat their wives are often lauded as performing a marital duty, and wives who complain are encouraged to learn obedience and perseverance. As a result, many Nigerian women suffer domestic violence in silence.
I particularly want to call your attention to the plight of young girls who are placed in vulnerable situations due to life circumstances beyond their control: Thirteen year-old girls forced into marriages with much older men; young women given away as housemaids to homes in which they suffer physical, emotional, and or sexual abuse; young female street-vendors at risk of kidnap, rape, or ritualistic killings; young girls accused of any number of fabricated or real misdemeanors and punished by stoning, flogging, or acid-burning.
These are but a few examples of the myriad stories heard every day concerning women and young girls in Nigeria, and they echo the reality for many women and girls around the world.
As a young woman with dreams for a better world, I hereby appeal to you and to the entire U.S. legislative body to bring an end to these stories of violence by passing the International Violence Against Women Act. The future of the world depends on it.
Many women and girls all over the world and in my community who are victims of violence have developed an unhealthy acceptance of their situations. Many girls have died young, many have lost their childhoods to sexual assault, many have lost their luster and life-zest to rough edges of the whip. Many women have forgotten how to sing, many have gone down to the grave fearing for their children’s futures, and many have themselves taken up the weapons of their assaulters.
But again, many girls and women have risen and are rising still, shaking off the fetters of oppression and violence and saying “NO MORE!” Once-victims of rape, physical assault, and sex trafficking are becoming the voices for the weary and the vanguards for change in their communities. Women advocates and activists are mobilizing a rallying cry to combat violence and suppression.
Once again, I appeal to you—lend credence to our voices, bring momentum to our movement by passing the International Violence Against Women Act.
SLawThe International Violence Against Women Act