Stiffer penalties, panacea for gender violence

The Evangelist News edition, Saturday July 29, 2023. By Adeze Ojukwu

Violence has become, the new norm for most communities, countries and continents.

Sadly women, tend to disproportionately, bear the brunt of these criminalities.

There is ample evidence that, violence against women seems to be escalating, despite the global campaign against such violations.

This is quite unfortunate, considering that many women leaders and activists, are fighting, vigorously, to end all forms of ancient and modern barriers, deliberately, established by societies to devour females and their rights.

Gratuitously, the ongoing FIFA Women’s World Cup, being hosted by Australia and New Zealand, provides not just an elixir for entertainment, but a veritable window to celebrate female football czars, at the Mundial.

Featuring at the highest global all-ladies football competition, as in all world tournaments, is no mean feat.

Before the match, expectations were lackluster for the Nigerian squad, rated less than the Australian national women’s team.

But the table turned, as the Super Falcons displayed superb dribbling skills, which Jay Jay Okocha and Kanu Nwankwo, were known for.

Uchenna Kanu, Osinachi Ohale, and Asisat Oshoala, scored the three goals that gave the teamm the lead, during the clash with the Australian Matildas, on Thursday, at the Brisbane Stadium, in Brisbane.

The scorers exhibited exvellent ball control and exciting dribbles, as they trounced the Aussies’ goalkeeper three times and flipped the ball, swiftly, into their net. No opportunity was left to chance. Despite a few misses, the young girls remained courageous and focussed.

For the fierce-looking defender, this was no game but a war, so she faced the match as a well-prepared warrior, with intimidating moves and a ferocious mien.

For Chiamaka Nnadozie, the fiery goalkeeper for Paris FC French Division 1 Féminine, it was a fantastic outing. Her savvy posture, skills, confidence and professionalism were topnotch. She was the woman of the match, according to some citizens.

Randy Waldrum must also be hailed, for his coaching expertise, which skyrocketted the Nigerian squad to a resounding victory. The experience, of the former American football star was quite sterling, as he guided the girls to the top.

The formidable group, exuded so much energy and strength, which not only dazed their Australian opponents, but left many dumbfounded. Remember that the Aussies were placed 30 points above the Falcons according to FIFA ranking.

It was, therefore, a huge slap for the Aussies, who despite their high rating, home advantage and a good fighting spirit, caved in, woefully, to the Nigerian players.

Clearly, the 3-2 win by the Super Falcons was a sweet victory. This audacious triumph is quite significant, because they have become the clear leader of Group B, pushing the Australian Matildas to the second position.

Indeed the women played their hearts out and stayed, strong, despite several attempts to injure some of the star players. Sadly, the referee turned a blind eye to these offenses.

Management of the Nigerian team ought to report the matter to FIFA, because of future encounters. The lives of these young women must not be endangered, by the desperation and ambition of some teams to score goals or lift the World Cup.

Violence has no place in sports or life in general. Assault in all its ramifications, is inimical to human life and survival. Just like all other forms of violence, sports brutality is quite unfortunate and condemnable.

It should not be tolerated at all, because it kills the spirit of camaraderie, associated with games, recreational events and indeed life. Sadly, extreme force, endless hostilities and unnecessary bloodshed permeate all facets of human dealings. It is a pity and a shame!

This brutishness, seems to have taken frightening dimensions, particularly in homes and intimate relationships.

A recent BBC report described how “a retired US church pastor, who presided nearly half a century ago at the funeral of a kidnapped eight-year-old girl has been charged with her murder. Gretchen Harrington went missing in the Philadelphia suburb of Marple Township on the morning of 15 August 1975 while attending summer Bible camp.”

“In 1975, Mr Zandstra was pastor at the Trinity Christian Reformed Church. Bible camps were held on its premises each morning and he would then transport the children to a second church.”

Meanwhile, a national daily reported how a “man in Katsina State, allegedly, divorced his 14-year old house wife for allowing a male medical practitioner to attend to her while giving birth to his baby.”

“The teenage mother, who was divorced by the husband, was said to have had a complicated child birth, resulting to being rushed to the hospital where there was no female medical practitioner on ground to attend to her. As a result, the only male medical practitioner available attended to her during labour, a development that led to the crash of her marriage.”

Another news story by the same newspaper is noteworthy. “The Akwa Ibom State High Court sitting in Uyo, has ordered one Mr. Sampson Udoh, an indigene of Itiam Etoi in Uyo Local Government Area of the state to pay N20 million to two of his nieces for breaching their fundamental rights.”

“The court noted that the main contention of the applicant, Sampson Udoh, was that his nieces, being female children of his late elder brother, Mr. Isaac Udoh, should not inherit their father’s property because they are women.”

“The court noted that the women said their late father built his house between 1976 and 1980 and that they’ve lived in their father’s house from birth till date, without any problem, until they attempted to appropriate the inheritance and their uncle unleashed mayhem on them. Justice Ntong Ntong in the judgment, described the applicant’s action as obnoxious and repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience.”

Violence is even worse, at the national and international levels, as conflicts, currently dominate several nations and communities. For instance, the Russia-Ukraine war has brought untold hardship to the two countries, as well as the entire world.

With the depleted supply of grains, sunflower oil, as well as the energy crises, food scarcity has worsened, while hunger is affecting many counties, due to the protracted conflict between the two neighbouring countries.

Governments, world leaders and corporate giants must intensify efforts, towards improving strategies on peace building, conflict resolution and reconciliation, by using proactive tools and early warning signals to prevent hostilities and bloody conflicts, as well as child abuse, all forms of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and injustice every where.

These battles tend to affect women and children most, particularly economically, socially, emotionally and medically.

But even in peaceful times, women also face endless discriminatory vices, which tend to wreck their lives and potentials.

This is quite pathetic, because millions of women across the globe, have excelled in virtually all spheres of life, including science, academia, research, politics, leadership, entertainment and, of course, sports.

Notable female icons global citizens include Prof Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Dr Chimamanda Adichie, Dr. Amina Muhammed, Ellen Sirleaf, Inger Andersen and Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish Climate activist.

There is no justification or rationale for the persistent attacks and ploy to undermine the lives and future of women. Their roles in propelling development programmes in various countries and community must be upheld and prioritized.

During Covid-19 pandemic, women topped the chart in providing prompt and critical care for ailing families and communities.

Female doctors, nurses and care givers displayed uncommon courage and dexterity, as they toiled along with their male counterparts to deliver life-saving medical services to patients.

However, many societies particularly in Africa, still view females, as second class citizens and sex objects.

These atrocious perspectives have no business, in the 21st century.

Relevant authorities, stakeholders, human rights groups and women leaders must step up public enlightenment programmes, advocacies, legal and legislative activities, in order to end this myopic malapropism.

In Nigeria, for instance, many girls and ladies, especially, widows and their children suffer, terribly, from unjust traditions. In some parts of South East and South South regions, their rights to inheritance, properties and lands are often denied, thus impoverishing such widows and their wards.

Despite the Supreme Court ruling on female inheritance, these obnoxious practices, still persist.

In fact, security and media reports indicate that rape and sexual crimes against women are worsening in the country.

This is sad, because Nigeria is a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women(CEDAW), an international treaty adopted in 1979 by the United Nations General Assembly(CEDAW).

Forced and early marriage, have continued too, particularly in the North, despite the fact the Nigeria is a party to the Convention on Child Rights(CRC).

Gory details of these parochial evils, rooted in religious and primordial traditions, must be abrogated, with urgency.

Perpetrators must be smoked out and be penalized seriously, to serve as a deterrent.

Violence is a crime against humanity. Therefore brutalities against women must be dealt with seriously, because of its negative impact on the health and lives of victim.

•Ojukwu is a journalist and author. Send feedback through

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