are they to blame?

i am somewhat familiar with the issue of domestic violence in Igbo households, both from personal experience (that is observing other families who engage in this practice) and from what I see in the media (ehem, Nollywood). However, I have recently encountered a disturbing article, (actually there are several more out there) on domestic violence incidence in a random sample of Imo state women, which, I may venture to say, could be generalized to Igbo women at large, and perhaps, Nigerian society (pleeeease correct me, if I am wrong).

The article is entitled, Prevalence, Patterns and Correlates of Domestic Violence in Selected Igbo Communities of Imo State, Nigeria (Okembo C et.al. 2002). I guess you can google scholar it if interested, but if you don't have access to it, email me and I can send you the pdf file. (I'm not sure if I will get in trouble for distributing it, but I think I am willing to take the risk, for the sake of the cause).

For the sake of space, I will spare you the intricate details about study design, sample size etc (though, they are important, I just gloss over these things...bad habit) and highlight some of their results. In a sample of about 300 women (I know, this is a pretty small sample), they found that almost 80% had experienced some form of domestic violence. I thought the number was unbelievable. Women in urban areas were more likely to experience physical beatings from their husbands than rural women. (In regards to polygamy, it was found that women in polygamous marriages were less likely to undergo abuse - just thought that was interesting - please note that I am not advocating the practice). There were other interesting results documenting kinds of abuse, prevalence and preferences and predictors of abuse that you can pick out on your own time.

I would really like to know, if some of you, from your own personal experiences find that domestic violence is as prevalent as this article suggests and your thoughts on this idea that domestic abuse is more common in the cities than rural areas and why? (of course, this was just a preliminary study and I did not check out other papers to find out if they support this stat.

I think what really caught my attention were some of the responses from the participants to why abuse occurs. For example, here is one:

"...Usually [men] see women as physically, economically and socially inferior to [men]. They also feel that they bought women with their money..."

The authors stated that cultural institutions amongst the Igbo are to blame for the continued practice of domestic violence. Particularly, the idea that male children are worth more than female children therefore creating the notion that women can be treated that way. Besides traditional institutions that support the prevalence of domestic abuse, some women cited Christianity as to institution to blame for this continued practice stating that the Bible calls for the "subjection" of women by man.

Let me first state that I would not go so far as to condemn Igbo cultural institutions, which I appreciate and adhere to, nor condemn Christianity, which I practice. However, are these two institutions to blame for the continued practice of domestic violence? What particular aspects are to blame for domestic violence and can one use these institutions to prevent and abolish this practice? What should be done about it and why isn't more being done about it (like addressing it as a vital component of a family planning or reproductive health agenda)?

Sorry if this post is a bit long, but I seriously cut out a lot of stuff in order to get the main point across. I always look forward to all of your responses because they seriously challenge me and get me thinking in ways unimagined.

Oh in regards to the poster above....yes, another google image search. But I thought the poster was interesting in that it is appealing to adherence to tradition which calls for utmost respect for mothers and older-womanhood. An example of how existing societal institutions which promote violence could be used to eradicate it....yes, I said ERADICATE it.


race before gender, gender before race

by the way, this blog endorses Barack Obama as the Democratic presidential candidate - just thought I would get it out there.

Beyond policy, commitment to change, his anti-Iraq War stance, and the fact that Clinton will "fire up" the Republican base, I have decided to back Obama because he represents many first-generation Americans who are doing big things. I mean, what can be bigger than running for the presidency against the Clinton machine (note, I used to support the Clinton/Clinton ticket....how I changed, na long story....will explain another day).

And for many African Americans, the choice is sometimes based on the fact that they would like to see one of their own in the White House as well. I sort of assumed that this would be true for most who consider themselves Black (though let me add, that I have nothing against those who think otherwise...and I )

Anyway, this assumption was questioned when I caught some of the commentary of Ohioans during their primary last week. A black female (can't remember her name) said she was voting for Hilary because according to her, "she is a woman first and an African American second..."

My initial reactions to these comments were that this woman has imbibed the unpopular stance of "betraying the race." However, as i thought more over this woman's comments, I began to realize that she is not alone, that there are several black women - African and African American - who have often chosen gender over race. For example, one person that easily comes to mind is Alice Walker and her classic novel, The Color Purple. Many in the black community felt that she weakened the fight against racism in order to pursue a feminist agenda. I guess an African example would be women who fight against female circumcision at the risk of portraying their people in a bad light. Or, to bring it home, my post on misogyny in African music. Sometimes in the course of pursuing Africanism (if there is such a word), feminist issues can be sidelined.

I have not yet sat down to think of who I am first - a woman or a member of the African diaspora. I would think that I am first an African and then a woman therefore countering this woman's statement. And in regards to females that I admire that I mentioned in my first post on african feminism, I have a feeling that they would also take the same stance as well. I, admit, I have not read much on african feminist theory, but I wonder if that is the point of african feminism - to put the african back into feminism as opposed to putting infusing feminism into africa. Or rather, as I hope to do, find a balance between the two. Once again, thoughts on which you consider first - africanism or feminism - would be appreciated. If you have some recommended reading that would also be appreciated (Misan, I read A Thousand Splendid Suns - it was great...a post on Afghani feminism...akuko nke mbu...is forthcoming).

Oh, and Happy International Woman's Week!


all is not lost....

for the Nigerian sporting world that is...

After Nigeria's disappointing show at the African Nations Cup (I had to return my green-white-green victory gear back to the recesses of my closet), I began to give up on seeking national pride in sports. Well, I (and several other Naija bloggers) are proud to report differently.

This weekend Akwa Ibom native, Samuel Okon Peter clinched the World Boxing Council's (WBC) Heavyweight title in a sixth round knockout. Personally, the only time I have enjoyed boxing is when he is featured as one of the contenders so I am not sure of all of the boxing terms. All I know is that the opponent went down in the sixth round.

He was featured in The Guardian today, and I found his story to be very inspiring. Dig one of the statements he made to the reporters.

"I have been doing this for about seven years now professionally; I have never been down in my career. I have been knocked down but I stand up to win."

I will definitely keep this one in memory, and I think as a nation, we should realize that our past has been rough - colonialism, civil war, losing the African Nations Cup (I mean that light-heartedly) - and we have been knocked down on several occasions. However, we should take a page out of Peter's playbook that though we have been knocked down, we should continue to stand up to win. I am very much for taking a critical stance on Nigerian national affairs, but let's not just leave at that, criticism. Rather, there should be a hope that through journalism, blogging, activism, going to work every morning etc. we can all inch our ways towards a knockout future. (I apologize in advance if this seems overly-idealistic, but hey, I'm young and it's my prerogative).