HUMAN RIGHTS, A RIGHT OF EVERY HUMAN
Every individual has the right to freedom. Fundamental human rights are the set of rights every individual requires to live their life peacefully. Every human being has the right to live without gender discrimination, and to live without dominance over each other. Without these rights, the development of any country is not possible. Whilst some countries believe in providing fundamental human rights to their citizens, this is not the same for citizens of some countries. For instance, Nigerian women.
Nigeria is one of the most popular countries on the African continent as well as in the world. The population of the country is about 200 million and the government have their rule book of specific human rights. But, unfortunately; there is no implementation of those written laws. The clouds of patriarchy still hovers in the country, even in 2021. The status of women is still inferior to men in Nigeria. That’s the reason why Nigerian women remain in the vicious cycle of barbaric traditions and rituals.
Nigerian Women suffer a lot more than any other country in the world. Some Nigerians consider women only as subordinate to men. They treat women according to their religion and culture with brutality. Women are not allowed to buy any property and acquire financial freedom. In this era of 2021, women are still forced to get married at the young age of 15.
Besides all these depravities, sexual assault and rape are other atrocities common in Nigeria for Nigerian women. Women face gender inequality even in the workplace, the wages of men are far higher than that of women. The marriage system is just another aspect that lacks equity. In many instances in Nigeria, men have more dominance over women. They limit women and discourage them from getting involved in any other work except for house chores. Unfortunately, they also maintain old, cruel and unkind ritual for the widow. They have made their own strict laws and obligations for her to follow.
STORY OF A WOMAN WHO WAS THE VICTIM OF NIGERIA’S INSOLENT
Let us narrate to you the real story of a Nigerian Woman, Mrs. Nagozika, the widow from Anambra state. In her story, she had mentioned how she suffered from oppression when her husband passed away. She bravely started telling her story that began in 1997 when she lost her husband who was the only breadwinner of the family. She was the mother of seven kids at that time, but lost one of her children when her husband died because of a sudden shock and the hardships she faced at that time.
After the death of her husband, her in-laws came to her and accused her of the murder of their son but this was falsely incriminated since her husband died of a cerebrovascular accident and stroke. After the false accusation of murder, they also forced her to follow all the rituals made for the widows in Nigeria. For many women in Nigeria, this story is not shocking and still takes places till today. According to the custom, she had to cut her “long hair” in front of all the villagers and the worst thing was that her own family enforced her to do all these inhumane rituals for the sake of honor and respect for her late husband. They forced her to wash his body and drink from the water of her husband’s corpse. She had to bear these pathetic rituals only because she was a woman and a widow.
NIGERIA AND THEIR MARRIAGE RITUALS
Talking about her marriage, this Nigerian woman narrated the events that took place after she got married . She and her husband belonged to different areas in Nigeria. Her late husband belonged to the village named Enugu state, whilst she was from the Anambra State of Nigeria. Mrs Nagozika told of how that her in-laws did not want approve of the marriage because she was from a different state, but they persevered in spite of the rejection they faced from their families. She further mentioned the barbaric behavior that did not stop at any point, as they snatched all the important documents from her including all the educational and legal papers of her and her husband.
Her husband worked in the Nigerian police force, whom she hoped would help her, but her in-laws made her and her children destitute and took away this hope. Though her parents were able to help her retrieve her documents, this was of no use because the Nigerian force couldn’t help her without the proof and documentation of her late husband.
FROM OPPRESSION TO BRUTALITY
This wasn’t the last cruelty she faced, her in-laws ordered her to leave their village and didn’t allow her to take her children with her because they wanted her to remarry to another person in her own state. This was so hurtful, but she still didn’t lose hope and refused their desire to abandon her children. She knew that how her in-laws will treat her children with the brutality, and the oppression she faced, and refused to allow her children suffer in the name of these rituals. She was able to take all her children with her to Anambra state. By this time her husband’s family also refused to help her raise her children because they wanted to divide them into the cruel hands of their relatives.
That was a difficult time for her, filled with trepidations but she mentioned her faith in God who was in her favor, and her now late parents who helped her in every possible way they could. After the death of her parents, she finally decided to raise all her children by herself. In order to raise her children and provide them with an opportunity to pursue higher education, she did everything possible. She sold out all her belongings, including her jewelry, gold, and even her clothes. She borrowed millions of Naira just in the hope that one day her children will earn a good job after completing their education and will free themselves from all the loans and debts.
This is the story of only one Nigerian woman, but imagine very similar stories of many other Nigerian women who still suffer in silence and are in hope for justice. Nigeria remains one of the countries with the highest rate of these atrocities, where there is no proper implementation of women’s rights.
The development of any country depends on both men and women. The Nigerian government must destroy all traces of patriarchy in order to ensure that women possess equal rights. They must provide women with the rights to equal education, financial and reproductive rights.