By Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)
Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is any violence directed at an individual based on his or her sex or gender identity.
It includes physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and psychological abuse, threats, coercion and economic or educational deprivation, whether occurring in public or private life.
Whoever the victim is – man, woman, girl or boy — GBV undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of victims and it remains shrouded in a culture of silence.
An overview by UN Population Fund (UNFPA) which places more emphasis on the female gender, however, states that violence against women and girls is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world.
The fund notes that such violence knows no social, economic or national boundaries and adds that an estimated one in three women in the world will experience physical or sexual abuse in her lifetime.
However, GBV, as the name connotes, is any violence on an individual due to his or her gender identity, men inclusive.
Against the backdrop of the annual 16 Days of Activism Against GBV declared by the UN from Nov. 25 to Dec. 10 to bring to light various acts of violence and abuse against men, women, boys and girls, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) seeks to find out if men also suffer same and why they keep mum.
With the 2019 theme — “Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands Against Rape’’, the 16 days of activism is a call for global actions to increase awareness, galvanise advocacy efforts and share knowledge and innovations toward dealing with abuse cases.
Malam Ya’u Umar, a 57-year-old civil servant in Abuja, then narrates what he calls“psychological trauma suffered by many married men.”
He says it is not only women, girls and boys that suffer GBV, noting that married men especially suffer it “as exhibited by some wives in many different forms.’’
He explained that from the definitions of GBV, which include emotional and psychological abuse, “many married men are also suffering in silence.”
Umar says culture plays a great role in silencing men suffering from domestic violence, as they cannot openly speak about it.
The civil servant, who said he would not want to go into details of the things some men go through in the form of violence in their homes, added that “culturally and religiously, a man is the head of the home and as such, should not be heard as being violated in his house.
“Culture sees it as something unimaginable, and as such, the men will rather continue to endure in silence; but these are things that actually happen; many family members can attest to that.
“I don’t think any man can openly say that he is being assaulted by his wife or by a woman; no man will ever come out to say that his wife or a woman beats him; right from childhood, boys are made to know that girls/women are the weaker sex.”
Another man, Mr Donatus Nnamoko, a 48-year-old businessman residing in Abuja, said “I almost abandoned my family due to my wife’s nagging; the psychological and emotional abuse was too much for me to bear.’’
He explained that even though his wife is educated and earning salary, her nagging behaviour subjected him to psychological trauma and anxiety “and many times, I felt like just absconding from home.
“Even though we have now ironed out our differences, anytime I remember those days, I begin to think differently about her.
“I had to report her to both families, where we were summoned for meeting and we discussed at length and both of us spoke our minds on everything happening between us.
“We were then warned and we swore to an oath not to cause trouble again and I want to believe she has now changed.’’
For Mr Adebayo Aina, a lawyer also based in Abuja, said violence against men had been happening for ages, “but the attention on it has been very low; and the men do not speak about it due to culture or maybe stigma.
“Even though it happens to women more than men, many men are also undergoing some form of torture.’’
He explained that many husbands suffer psychological abuse in homes, narrating how his wife tried to poison his children against him.
He said that “some women are troublesome and can do anything to make life unbearable to their husbands; especially when they ask for something and are not granted or suspect the man is into extra marital affairs.
“Some women can tell the children all sorts of things that can make them to even hate their father; many women display such attitude, which is very bad and can divide the family.
“Do you know that many men resort to hanging out with friends and the bar because of their wives’ attitude?, many of us will like to go home and rest after work, but cannot do that because of some women’s nagging.
“Many times I felt like running out of the house because of the `dangerous’ look my wife gives me when I return from work.’’
He added that “the unfriendly look’’ would just send the man thinking about what he did wrong, “and that kind of trauma can cause high blood pressure, as the woman keeps eyeing without any explanation.
“That kind of trauma is a huge abuse because the man will not be able to concentrate.’’
Aina said that even though he is a lawyer, he never handled any abuse case against a man, as many see it as a family matter “which the men would not want to make public.’’
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He added that although it had been happening and the men kept enduring in silence, there was need to bring it to the fore, just like the advocacy against abuse of women and girls “so that men too would have peace of mind.’’
He urged the media to also focus and report cases of abuse against men, so as to find lasting solution to it, “in form of a law, establishment of special court to try such cases or emphasis on the use of family to tackle the matter.
“Once there is a law to protect men against abuse, it will deter suspected culprits.’’
He, however, encouraged men who felt violated to feel free to speak out and not to feel ashamed so as to avoid psychological trauma, which might cause diseases or send men to early grave.
He said “men also experience gender abuse but do not shout about it; I hope it would not get to a time that they would carry placards to protest against the aggressors.”(NANFeatures)