Written By: Ritarilla Barick Yusuf
My name is Ritarilla, and as a legal practitioner who is passionate about contributing to the equality paradigm and social justice, I consider it necessity for the criminalization of gender-based violence.
Gender based violence is a human right violation, public health challenge and a barrier to civic, social, and economic integration. Is a globally problem experienced by people from all cultures, economic levels, religions, races, ethnicities, ages, and educational backgrounds. It has devastating and long-lasting impacts on the lives of survivors and their families.
Gender based violence is rooted in unequal power relations that enable perpetrators to exert physical, emotional, or financial control over those with less power because of their gender, especially the female gender.
Men and boys can be victims of gender-based violence too, but women and girls are more likely to experience one or more forms of gender-based violence throughout their lives. Some women and girls experience higher rates of gender-based violence than others, and the sad reality is not many of them have come forth to speak about it.
This demand matter to me deeply because as a legal practitioner, it is part of my ethical responsibility to uphold the justice system, and I grew up in a society where men get away with wanton abundant of crimes.
Criminalizing gender-based violence of course will not stop gender-based violence especially in my country Nigeria, where enforcement of law is seemingly impracticable, but I’m of the opinion it will mitigate it, and serve as a means of deterrence to perpetrators of such crimes, it will protect victims/survivors of such a crime, and hopefully reform the offender, and repatriates the victims in one way or the other. Especially where those victims are internally displaced persons, affected by armed conflict, with little or no moral, economical, psychological and emotional support, with high cases of early or forced marriage, sexual abuse, genital mutilation, trafficking and all forms of exploitation.
This demand speaks to me personally in ways words cannot expressed. Growing up, I’ve seen women in my neighborhood struggle in one form of physical or emotional abuse, with no form of support, but rather the conversations border around questions along the line of, what did she do? Why didn’t she do this or that? He is her husband, why did she talk to him in that manner? Or for example, just recently a girl called Iniubong Umoren was r*ped and murdered in Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria, the conversation surrounding that tragedy is that of blames, and diabolic questions such as, what was she wearing? some making comments like, girls these days be posting I’m available for this job and that, then get themselves r*ped and start playing the victim card.
As inhumane as these postulations may sound, this is the conversation. This is why this demand matter to me. We need to be protected, and I’m confident with criminalization of gender-based violence, the story will be different. Things will be better.
And the world will be safer for the female gender, and any other gender faced with abuse.
By: Ritarilla Barick Yusuf