Dear President Obama,
Am glad to have the opportunity to write a letter to you especially as it concern gender based violence.
You may not know, but I wish to bring to your notice some gender based violence perpetrated on women and girls within my country.
I plead with you to use your good office as the President of the United State of America to pass the International Violence Against Women Act (H.R. 4594, S. 2982). This Act will save and protect women and girls today and in future. Gender based violence has eaten deep in the society and my country, Nigeria. Most women are not empowered due to all kinds of violence perpetrated on them. Some of these violence, I wish to let you know are real life experience.
Mr. President, let me introduce you to these questions that my country women ask- Should a girl sleep with her lecturer to pass their exams? Should a woman go to bed with the Managing Director before she gets her appointment letter for the job she qualified? Should a woman be blamed and thrown to the street because there is no child yet? Why should a woman be limited in the pursuit of her career? Why should they be limited to higher positions? Why can't she be given the opportunity to rule her home, family, state and country? Rape is an international issue and I know in some countries it is a serious offence and offenders are prosecuted but in my country the perpetrator is as free as air. The law says 21years imprisonment for offenders but I have not seen or heard of any offender that was imprisoned for rape. Mr. President, it hurts so much and no woman who is raped ever remain the same. She is affected emotionally, socially, psychology and even medically. I know an aged woman in her late 60s, she still lament over her childhood rape which resulted in unwanted pregnancy. The perpetrator married her in return but even at this age, I have seen her weep severally and refer on what happened years back. She is never happy with him, am sure if given the opportunity she will prosecute her offender, the aged husband. Am sure, very sure of this.
Mr. President, these issues affect development in my country. Many women have resolved to remain at home rather than go through these exploitations and assaults. Women with potentials cannot raise their head up because they will be shut down. Many cannot even complete their education because they cannot meet up with "in kind", cos in cash is not accepted. Many women who could make change occur in their workplace have entered the market to do business. Hope is lost for many widows in Nigeria. Why? Because, her husband's family have taken over everything from her, leaving her with nothing to carter for her children.
Did you know that when women are given the opportunity, they are MAD - Make A Difference. Yes, they are MAD for what they believe in and convince that they can do. A good example is Nigerian former NAFDAC Director General, Prof. Dora Akunyili. She served the Nation diligently and with passion. We are proud of her. Most women who have had their way on top is either through family influence or recommendation. They have their success stories, but they are few. We need more women on top, in power and more voices.
Mr. President, am sure if this Act is passed, more women will be empowered through educative program. If women know that there is a Law protecting them, they will speak for their Rights and not hide in shame, fear, timid as a result of personal experience of violence.
Mr. President, I know you can do it. Act for change, support women. May you live Long. Amen.
Vivian EmesowumThe International Violence Against Women Act