A tale of the abuse suffered by mothers, children
In an attempt to convey much of the physical, mental and spiritual pain suffered by African mothers and children, Queen Esther Paul, Director of ROOT Sisters International, a woman rights NGO and initiator of Women of Galilee Outreach (WOGO), published a book, entitled, ‘A Cry For Help: The Ordeals of the African Mother & Child’.
The book offers an insight into how tradition, government indifference, poverty and other social plaques have contributed to the neglect and abuse of the African mother and child. Paul speaks on the book in this interview.
By Olayinka Latona
‘A Cry for Help: The Ordeals of the African Mother & Child’, what is it all about?
I felt compelled to publish the book because of the incessant abuses encountered by female folks and children in our society and other developing countries.
I decided to tie the ordeals of the mother and the child together because these they have so much in common. The mother is the host of the embryo and later the fetus which becomes the child.
During her pregnancy, her life is closely tied to the child in the sense that most of the things that happen to the mother will advertently affect the child. Hence the burden of nursing the child becomes a strengthening bond between the mother and child.
The world is moving at a jet speed and almost everything has changed- architecture, automobile, entertainment, dressing pattern even food but in the midst of all these swift changes, there is this obsolete tradition, culture, terrible crimes that are being committed on a daily basis against the mother and child all over Africa.
In Nigeria and other African countries that are not at war, the epidemic of mother and child abuse is on the increase.
Nigeria is said to be the giant of Africa but the issue of mother and child abuse is not receiving the required attention.
Many mothers and their children have lost their lives as a result of different forms of abuses meted out to them. Government has not done enough to protect these endangered species. Legislation banning violence against woman exists in Lagos and very few other states, but the implementation of the law is rather poor.
The doctrine and principles of some religion and tradition are also allies in the business of mother and child abuse.
This book covers almost all forms of abuse against the African mother and child as well as some poetic verses to express the pain in my heart.
The worst plague that has been living with most Nigerians is poor medical care; most Nigerians have lost their lives in minor cases that could have been treated in good hospitals. 90 percent of those who suffer the deplorable situation in our hospitals and incessant strikes by the medical personnel are mothers and their children
Have you ever had any personal experience?
I was one of the victims of one of the longest strikes engaged by doctors in Lagos University Teaching Hospitals in the last quarter of 2010. I lost my baby boy a day after delivery due to poor medical attention occasioned by the absence of qualified doctors to attend to the baby.
My delivery labour began on October 6, 2010 and I was rushed to one hospital. I was in labour for four days at the hospital, induced three times by the doctor. I cannot explain the traumatic pain I went through but the baby was not coming. I was later referred to another hospital where I was operated on and the baby boy weighing 4.9 kg was brought out whereas the former doctor told me the baby was not big.
After passing through the ordeal, I deemed it necessary to tell the world my story, join other voices to solicit for African mother and child through my book, ‘A Cry for Help’
The death of my boy opened my eyes more to the ordeal that women and their children pass through because of lack of good medical care. One can imagine the number of women and children that must have lost their lives during that prolonged strike.
Women’s role in national development
It is important to enable women to participate in economic activities. It is one of the ways for any country in the world to accelerate development and to eliminate poverty as women will invest their incomes in their children’s health, nutrition and education that will, in turn, improve their families’s living condition
However, I want Nigerians to know that every successful nation places great importance on their women and children because the role of these two cannot be undermined if we want to achieve a sustainable nation.
The role of women and the society to curb violence against women
Women and the society in general must join hands to work together to stop violence against women. All hands must be on deck for zero tolerance on violence against women.
We must know that injustice to one is injustice to all and collectively we must fight to stop it. There is a high level of poverty and frustration hence husbands vent their aggression on their wives.
Clarion call to government
The effects of violence can remain with women and children for a lifetime, and can pass from one generation to another. Studies show that children who have witnessed, or been subjected to violence are more likely to become abusers themselves.
There is urgent need for African government to stand right and pass bills to protect the mother and child. Violence against women and children has tremendous costs to communities, nations and societies.
If left unaddressed, these human rights violations pose serious consequences for current and future generations and for the efforts to ensure peace and security, to reduce poverty and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.