Bridging Socio-cultural Factors Influencing Gender-based Violence In Nigeria

Sun May 15th, 2022 - Abia

Cultural beliefs and traditions are one of the enablers of harmful widowhood practices. Last week at Nkporo, Ohafia local government area of Abia State, Eunice Mbah was faced with this experience first-hand, following the death of her husband.

She was placed under the authority of elderly widows who were in charge of the purification. Before the burial of her husband, she sat on the bare floor close to the corpse with an open palm stretched on her laps. During burial, she was asked to swear her innocence on the corpse, this was a means of evoking the spirit of the deceased to fight for vengeance.

Immediately after burial, the widow was taken to the stream, bathed and dressed in a traditional attire made of plantain leaves just to cover the front genital part. A corner was prepared for her in a smoky kitchen in which she had to sleep on plantain leaves same as the elderly widows.

The elderly widows were women who had once gone through the said rituals and have a good knowledge of the various rites, items and beliefs associated with widowhood. The widow was given a pair of split calabash in which she was to eat and drink from and was not to wash hands before or after meals. She was equally restricted, secluded and excluded. She was not to indulge in certain conversations, not to laugh and to cry at the top of her voice. The widow sat on the floor with legs stretched out with her two big toes close to each other and hands open on the lapse to symbolize the openness and purity of her heart. Her movement was very limited and was accompanied by the elderly women everywhere she went.

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As in the above experience, culture can be used to justify gender violence and inequality by evoking traditional beliefs and practices about how women and girls should be treated. The concern is that all these acts are rooted in gender.

The United Nations Development Fund defines Gender-based violence (GBV) as harmful acts directed at an individual or a group of individuals based on their gender. It is rooted in gender inequality, the abuse of power and harmful norms.

And though gender-based violence may take many forms, it cuts across all cultures, disproportionately affecting women and children mostly.




source: Leadership