The Sexual Offences and Assault Response Initiative (SOAR), a Non-Government Organisation (NGO), says Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in Nigeria is fueled by socio-cultural norms and practices that entrench patriarchy.
The Founder and Executive Director of the Initiative, Mrs Chinyere Eyoh, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Calabar on Friday.
SGBV is any harmful act of sexual, physical, psychological, mental and emotional abuse that is perpetrated against a person’s will based on socially ascribed (i.e. gender) differences between males and females.
It encompasses many different acts of violence against women, children and men, ranging from rape, assault, forced marriage to genital mutilation.
Eyoh, therefore, said that a system where domination of women was seen as culturally normal, was one of the greatest factors that trigger SGBV.
She said “a system, a society or community where men dominate women and are seen to own and rule over women and girls who are perceived to be created to serve men will definitely record high rate of SGBV.
“There will be violence against women and girls by men and boys in such a system.”
The SOAR founder, who decried the manner rape and other forms of violence against women were culturally trivialised, said “it had objectified women and girls as sex toys.”
According to her, boys are unfortunately brought up with this patriarchal mentality of entitlement over women, which leads to continued violence against women and girls.
Eyoh said the culture of patriarchy had promoted not just sexual abuse but subjected women and girls to economic disadvantages, denying them positions of authority seen as exclusive reserves of men.
She added that “this power differential is another reason that leads to victimisation as sometimes this is used to blackmail, harass and violate.
“This includes when the person is in position where the victim has to depend on them, where the abuser is physically, mentally or financially superior or a notable person in the society.”
The executive director explained that abuse could also occur when the abuser perceive the victim as vulnerable.
“For example, if the abuser understands that the victim is from a broken home or lacks self esteem, especially children or women living with disabilities” (NAN)