Academic journal article Journal of Politics and Law

Son Preference - A Violation of Women's Human Rights: A Case Study of Igbo Custom in Nigeria

Academic journal article Journal of Politics and Law

Son Preference - A Violation of Women's Human Rights: A Case Study of Igbo Custom in Nigeria

Article excerpt


The issue of son preference is another pernicious violence against women for which the need to protect the girl-child is necessary and desirable in most societies of the world. In Nigeria, the preference for sons is very prevalent and exists in several cultures as it dates back to pre- historic times and it is tied to inheritance, unfortunately it has not succumbed to societal changes but has remained sacrosanct because of the desire for a son to carry on the family name and guarantee the family lineage. On marriage because of the value placed on men under Igbo custom, there is usually immense pressure on wives to give birth to sons. This, in addition to placing women in a situation in which they inadvertently encourage the inferior position of women through the preference for male children, also directly affects them in taking reproductive decisions and also affects their psyche. The Igbos is an ethnic group in the South Eastern part of Nigeria with a strong penchant for patriarchy. Women who give birth to a girl-child in Igbo land are unhappy at their first delivery, because of the fear of rejection and disappointment by the husband. This research is based on the doctrinal analytical content method which is the organization of study around legal propositions and the use of primary sources, like books, legal Encyclopedia, Monograms, and Newspapers. It therefore examined son preference with particular emphasis on Igbo custom in Nigeria and discovered its deep rooted nature in the psyche of the people as well as the fact that it is a violation of the human rights of women and suggested measures to curb same.

Keywords: human rights, Igbo custom, Nigeria, son preference, violation, women

1. Introduction

Violence inflicted on women is one of the most present violations of human rights globally. It comprises of economic, physical, psychological, and sexual abuse, and cuts across strata of age, status, culture, wealth, and educational background. Son preference is one form of violence against women that has posed a lot of problems in different countries of the world. Although son preference is in existence the world over, traditional preference for son is very prevalent in China, India, Nigeria, North Korea, and Pakistan. More so female infants, girls and women are discriminated against in the area of nutrition and health care (Note 1).

A. H. El-Gilany & E. Shady (2007) observed that the preference for sons by culture and custom is a widely known phenomenon in several developing nations where the status of women is low and subordinate to their male counterparts. It is particularly common, where women depend on men for both economic and social support. For instance, among the Arabs, the word, "Abu Banaat" meaning, father of daughters) is considered as an insult to a man in Arabic. This phrase, represents one of the several ways a woman in the Arab world learns how little she is valued.

Mike (2010), writing on an article titled; "India, Male Preference, No Bride No Toilet," wrote:

I previously wrote how census data shows a preference for the birth of boys over girls by Americans of Chinese, Indian and Korean descent. Demographers said that they believe the statistics reflect not only a preference for male ...

The Asians have a proverb which says; "it is good economics and good politics and essential as taking food at least once a day to have a son." Usually in that part of the world, the birth of a boy is celebrated and equated with "a sunrise in the abode of gods." In the case of a girl however, the axioms are very different. In India, one adage likens raising a daughter to watering the neighbor's garden (Note 2).

In Nigeria, the prevalence of patriarchy dictates the importance and prominence of the boy-child over the girl- child in several cultures. The birth of a girl is usually not accepted as an additional benefit to her family, a girl is rather considered as surplus age in the home. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.