Independence Day, it’s not for everybody!

The word “independence”, what does it mean to you? Self rule? Sovereignty? Freedom? Liberty? It can mean all these things but does the meaning really hold weight if you never experience it? It then becomes a fantasy, a thing that can only ever be hoped for…

On October 1 every year we commemorate Nigeria’s independence. The day that Nigeria gained its independence from the United Kingdom. But did we though? As a people, as men and as women? Aside from all the political shenanigans that go on openly and behind closed doors, there is still a group of people who live each day in captivity, women! Abused women to be precise and October also happens to be Domestic Violence Awareness month. Domestic violence occurs against men and women but let’s face it, the victims are more commonly women. So the question is, will women ever truly gain independence?

I can hear some people say “Domestic violence in Nigeria, in Africa? It’s not that common” but you’d be unpleasantly surprised at the statistics and at how prevalent it is. In fact, the amount of domestic violence that occurs in Africa as a continent is appalling and shocking.

Nigeria has been recorded to have one of the highest rates of domestic violence in Africa with more than two thirds of Nigerian women having suffered emotional, physical and/or sexual abuse at the hands of the man who is supposed to protect them, their husband/boyfriend. Abuse from close and supposedly family members is not excluded.

Africa’s heritage is culture and religion, with that being said (and ironically), one of the biggest contributors to domestic violence is religious and cultural belief. It is socially acceptable in many cultures to hit a woman as a form of discipline. Some women suffer domestic abuse and are not aware of it; it is under the umbrella of the so called “cultural” belief. In addition to this, they fail to acknowledge that emotional abuse constitutes domestic violence, not just physical and sexual.

Common forms of domestic violence against women in Africa include, rape, molestation, acid attacks, wife-beating and corporal punishment.

Domestic abuse in Africa continues to be on the rise and the exact number of incidents is hard to collate as many incidents go unreported and many more would. The lack of reported cases I would argue is due to the stigma the African woman faces of having a “failed” marriage. Where divorce and separation are done without a second thought in other parts of the world, in Africa if a woman is to leave her husband she has failed as a woman…if her husband leaves her, she has failed as a woman…either way, she can’t win!

New Horizons, is a short film starring EbonyLife TV’s very own “Screen Divas”, Funke Akindele, Uche Jombo, Kate Henshaw and Rita Dominic. This gripping and electrifying short film centres around four women who find strength in each other to fight against domestic violence and abuse can be viewed on EbonyLife TV DStv channel 165 on 26th October 2014 at 20:30 CAT

Domestic abuse is a violation of fundamental Human Rights so I ask you again, will women ever gain their independence?

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