BusinessDay

Make 2022 your year of change

As the story goes, a teenage girl committed suicide because some unscrupulous young men who were upset that she declined their proposition posted nude pictures of her that were untrue. They switched her face unto a nude picture of someone else and unable to bear the shame, she took her own life. According to her, it would have been difficult to explain to her parents that she in fact took no nude pictures, talk less of sharing this with persons who would post it.

This particular story has been with us for as long as social media has been with us. The stories are not restricted to India, China, or the United States where there is a rise and rise of suicide cases. It is all over the world and Nigeria is not an exception. The ugly stories coming out of our innards as a nation, in relation to violence against women and girls is, to be honest, shameful. Many years ago, a woman whose husband was a laggard and she was entrepreneurial even before he married her bought her husband a motorbike. She wanted him to be busy, get off his bottom and get to work. He on the other hand wanted to spend all her capital, drinking and womanising. As the relationship progressed they had a set of twins. In the middle of this progression, the husband became intimidated by his wife and turned her into a punching bag. Neighbours would go to beg whenever he started his violent dance of the deaf. One night he killed her.

Too many broken women abound and except we change, we cannot fix them.

The story of many women in the world treated as property by husbands, brothers, brothers-in-law, and Partners, and in other cases mothers-in-law and sisters-in-law. The sheer thought of the suffering of these women boggles the mind.

I was as usual quite involved in the United Nations 15 days of activism on ending violence against women and girls. 15 days set aside for advocacy on gender-based violence. The sordid stories are endless, the broken women innumerable.

I have often wondered how anyone can bring someone else, a human being to such a state that takes the person to such a place of pain. Human traffickers, drug dealers, male leaders, gigolos, office colleagues, some law enforcement, friends, and family are all taking advantage and using women as a crotch to make money or peddle influence. It is a sad, sad story.

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What drives these people to do such damage, ruin society to the point where an entire family is damaged because someone damaged their mother? Sometimes the damage is not even physical. It’s emotional. This is where a woman lives her entire life without rising because someone has told them they are next to nothing, that they are worthless and useful for nothing. Such a woman cannot give what she does not have. Self-esteem. Confidence, even pride in what she can do just for herself. She becomes a liability to her children and society. She cannot even socialise her children or the people around her positively. To deaden the pain of rejection, some even resort to drugs. This is how the route of a lot of women is and the perpetrators continue to go scot-free.

I have seen many women whose lives are placed on the edge, at the bottom due to depression. Women struggle because they have heard too many unkind words from someone they sacrificed their life for. Too many broken women abound and except we change, we cannot fix them.

We complain now about insecurity, bad kids running amok, we forget that some of these kids are no longer catered for and have grown up by themselves because their mothers cannot find themselves and are too tired to call their children to order. The battle is real. Unless and until we accept that our women need to be looked after, supported, accorded their rightful place in society, and given equal opportunities, we will continue to live in denial. A nation whose women are given their place and treated well will rise. We need to listen to the earth and address the issues of widowhood, rape, wickedness, violence against women, and all manners of abuse against women as a matter of urgency.

The major culprits and perpetrators, be they family, community or faith leaders or persons in authority need to change.

A nation that walks without wholesome women and without women would only diminish in stature and stability.

Make it your New Year’s resolution in 2022 to be part of the solution!

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