Culture and Gender-Related Violence against Women in Ogoni Ethnic Nationality in Nigeria: Implications for Adult Education

By Patrick, John M.; Ugwu, Angela N. | Gender & Behaviour, December 2013 | Go to article overview

Culture and Gender-Related Violence against Women in Ogoni Ethnic Nationality in Nigeria: Implications for Adult Education


Patrick, John M., Ugwu, Angela N., Gender & Behaviour


Few cultural practices against women and gender related violence in Ogoni land, Rivers State, Nigeria had attracted international attention. The killing of twins, the practice of genital mutilation and the uprising and brutal killing by the military government following the popular mass action by the Ogoni people against abuse of their environment by the oil multinational cooperation generated considerable international condemnation. What is not well known is the "Sira" culture and violence against women on the death of their husbands. The "Sira" culture is a cultural practice in which first daughters are not given out for marriage; rather they are made to live a promiscuous life with attendant consequences of single parenthood and mental abuse. The key questions explored in this study are: to what extent is the practice of "Sira" culture implicated in the intensity of promiscuity and violence against women in Ogoni land? What are the gender related violence against women arising from burial rites of their husbands in Ogoni land? To address these key questions, focus group discussion, key personality interview were conducted. This study is anchored on transformative learning theory. The study reveals that there is variation in the intensity of the practice of sira culture and widowhood practice in Gokana and Khana local government areas all in Ogoni land. Based on the findings and the discussion the writers concluded that the three elements of transformative learning theory be infused into adult education programmes to address these issues.

Gender discrimination and violence against women are pervasive and a universal reality which has plagued many societies whether developed or developing. This has taken different forms like wife battering, sexual abuse, female genital mutilation and rape. Some of these violence and discriminations are culturally induced and socially accepted ways of life with an attendant fallacious beliefs. In some societies women are mistreated and regarded as inferior and unequal to their male folk and therefore undeserving of any human dignity and some fundamental rights. They are often seen as objects to be used for pleasure, exploitation and elimination. As object of pleasure women are seen as object of sexual gratification for men and this often amount to sexual harassment and rape; as object of exploitation, their labour as caregivers are not priced, unrewarded and the surplus value created by them appropriated by men while in industrial setting they are under paid and discriminated against; as object of elimination, they are reduced to voiceless object of social exclusion and alienation. The corollary of these objectifications of the womenfolk is their vulnerability to all forms of discrimination and violence.

The vulnerability of women in Nigeria is an incontestable fact. Nigerian women have suffered various forms of violence and discriminations during pre-colonial era through the colonial and post-colonial period. In the northern part of Nigeria women suffer from restriction of their freedom of association and even right to education because of the practice of purdah; the girl child is given out early for marriage against her wish and are often sexually abused. Apart from these, there are several obnoxious cultural practices that violate women dignity and their rights in the northern part of Nigeria. In Middle Belt particularly in Tiv culture of Benue State, men offer their wives to august visitors sleeping over in the man's house in demonstration of the host's regard for such friend or visitor (Arisi, and Oromarghake, 2011). Arisi et al pointed out that the wife that is offered usually does not have any prerogative on the issue other than make sure she satisfies the visitor on the bed that night. The outcomes of such obnoxious night with the august visitor such as pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease that may occur are not considered. In the South-South Nigeria among the Ikwerre ethnic nationality in Rivers State, if a woman must inherit her father's property, she has to remain single or unmarried. …

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