Top News

Nuns from Nigeria spread the word about violence against women

BP World Bureau | Nov 23 2022 06:22:08 PM

Nigerian sisters and their communities are educating the country's youth about violence against women and child abuse as well as its preventative techniques.

They collaborate with traditional leaders and government agencies through the African Faith and Justice Network, a Washington-based advocacy group, to strengthen laws against domestic violence aimed at women.

Since its founding in 1983, AFJN has collaborated with 86 sisters from 28 congregations to advance social justice, advocate for human rights, and promote peace. It also provides victims of abuse with moral and legal help.

The awareness campaign, according to Sister Eucharia Madueke of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and coordinator of the AFJN's Women Empowerment Project, is intended to address Nigeria's high rate of gender-based violence, particularly against women. As instances, she gave the denial of inheritance, rape, defiling, and negative widowhood rituals.

According to UNICEF, 31% of Nigerian women between the ages of 15 and 49 have been physically harmed, with 6% of those incidents taking place while the woman is pregnant.

Violence, according to Sister Madueke, thrives when one's spouse or partner believes he or she has control over the weaker partner. "A lot of women have been killed by their husbands, and this is often traced to how society perceives women as being weak."

In 2019, the sisters challenged over 100 employees of human rights organisations in Enugu to take up their responsibilities during a four-day course on advocacy and social justice.

The workshops and training have produced results. Sister Madueke claimed that the organisations have been organising, bringing up the dignity of women in local communities, schools, and churches as well as among themselves, assisting these groups in recognising violence around them, particularly in rural Nigerian areas.

Africa Faith and Justice Network doesn't operate alone. The network works with various organisations, including governmental organisations like the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, according to Notre Dame de Namur Sister Teresa Anyabuike, the AFJN's communications officer.

"We are holding advocacy visits to both civil and traditional leaders, demanding change of policies and cultural beliefs that lead to discrimination against women, and pushing for strong protective laws, as well as implementation of national laws that protect the rights and promote the dignity of every human."

"It's our common goal as sisters to deal with issues of injustice in the society. We go into communities to speak to people about what they need to know, how to speak up, avoid being caught up in the web of injustice, and how to seek redress when their rights are trampled or infringed on."

According to Sister Anyabuike, they carry out all of these actions to reassure the victims that there are still forums in which they can voice their concerns.