Gender-based violence is prevalent all over the world. It is alarming to know that women and children form as the dominant victims of abuse. It is prudent for everyone to understand that, gender-based violence is not only a societal issue but a world issue.

Efforts by NGOs/CSOs, government, gender-activists, etc are duly recognised in their capacity to help minimise the occurrences of gender-based violence. However, the consistent efforts of the various institutions to help curb the menace are thwarted by some cultural ideologies and practices. Some communities are resistant to change from primitive practices that do more harm than good. They believe that such cultural practices should still be upheld in high esteem though they appear to be archaic and of no benefit to the development of the country in the 21st century.

 

Visuals for Gender had its maiden twitter chat on Friday, 23rd November. The topic for discussion was ‘Culture and Gender-based violence’. A summary of the twitter chat follows in the continuing paragraphs.

 

Our resource person for the twitter chat was Mr. Pious Asante, a Gender Consultant of FAO. He first identified culture as “ideas, customs and social behavior of a particular people or society”. He explained that there were three categories of gender- based violence. These he identified as:

 

  • Relationship (Intimate Partner Violence)
  • Location (Domestic Violence)
  • Sex of Victims (Violence against women or men)

 

Some cultural practices have emboldened perpetrators of  gender-based violence to go about engaging in these crimes with impunity. Some of these gender-based violence that are sometimes encouraged by cultural practices include Child marriage, Female Genital Mutilation, cultural norms that permit men to beat their wives, widowhood rites, among many others. Such practices have been normalized and regarded as an acceptable standard of behavior. It was highlighted that gender-based violence still lingers in some communities because the men have been given too much authority to victimize women. Such men exert their power on women to satisfy their selfish needs.

 

The perception that the man is the “head of the home and the woman the tail” has affected attitudes and behaviors, hence relegating the woman as a “slave” to be subjected to all forms of harsh treatments.

 

Although some cultural practices enable gender-based violence to thrive, the people who uphold these practices are oblivious to the negative effects they come along with. Their main priority is to uphold and continue the traditions left for them by their forefathers instead of coming to the realization that people’s lives are in danger and efforts must be put in place to help curb the menace.

 

It will take a step at a time for the narrative on culture and gender-based violence to change.  The feedback we got from the people who joined the twitter chat indicates that there has to be continuous education and sensitization on the negative effects of gender-based violence all over the country. This will go a long way to influence attitudes and perceptions, hence leading to a change of heart. It might not be a quick remedy to the problem, however it is a bold step in the right direction.

 

Addressing and tackling issues of gender-based violence is a collective responsibility. Everyone, regardless his or her status, victim or not should contribute in whatever capacity they can, to help advocate against gender-based violence.

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