24th September, 2023
By Maduabuchi Nmeribeh/Kano
Kano State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Mohammed Usuaini Gumel has kicked against the notion that looking at African culture and traditions supported gender-based violence
The police boss stated this on Sunday, in a lecture entitled: “Gender-Based Violence from Religious, Western and Cultural Perspectives,” delivered to the youths of Arewa Peace Ambassadors, during a Conference commemorating the International Peace Day, held at Murtala Ramat Hall, Ni’ima Guests Palace, Kano.
He pointedly called for a collective effort to end the menace of gender-based violence, describing it as “anti-African.”
He regretted that some Africans use adherence to culture as an excuse for their violent behaviour towards their partner, as perpetrators and government officials sometimes try to justify their violent behaviour with sayings such as, ‘where I come from everybody does it’ or ‘it is normal.’
According to him, “In the case of Africa, there has been an ongoing debate regarding the role culture and tradition plays on the issue of Gender-based violence and its prevalence in Africa. Many commentators on Gender-based violence in Africa seem to lay the blame for high incidences of its occurrence in Africa on the doorsteps of African culture and tradition.
“To what extent this assertion is true is still very contentious. This violence against women is being carried out under the guise of culture and tradition, which is intolerable. Hence, Gender-based violence is not part of African culture.
“It is pertinent to state at this juncture that some of Nigeria/Africa’s cultural and traditional beliefs and practices do not offer any subtle tolerance and/or give support to the perpetuation of Gender-based violence in all its ramifications. As a matter of fact, “some” Nigerian cultures and traditions frown at any form of violence perpetuated against individuals as human beings.”
CP Gumel, however, maintained that the value system and morals inherent in some African cultures and traditions are often more protective of the citizens’ rights and fundamental freedoms when weighed against some international human rights treaties.
He further stated: “Conversely, there are some aspects of Nigeria/Africa’s cultures and traditions that are in need of transformation to avoid relying on them to perpetuate inhuman and degrading treatments on vulnerable individuals.
“Overall, our cultural heritage and norms play a pivotal role in shaping our societies. Customs and traditions often have deep-seated gender biases that perpetuate violence against women.
” By critically analyzing our cultural practices, we can identify harmful aspects and work towards transformative change. It is essential to engage with community leaders, influencers, and educational institutions to challenge harmful traditions and create safe spaces for open conversations. Let us celebrate the diversity of cultures while simultaneously promoting gender equality and denouncing all forms of violence.”
CP Gumel, however, expressed concern that gender-based violence is deeply rooted in the fabric of African society and increasingly affects many more individuals across religious, traditional and cultural backgrounds, describing it as a pervasive issue that undermines the very essence of humanity and keeps threatening the well-being and dignity of individuals.
“In our quest for a more compassionate and just society, it is crucial to explore these issues through diverse lenses, including religious, traditional, and cultural perspectives. On this note, this presentation will delve into exploring the complex web that surrounds Gender-Based Violence and how it’s gaining insights. It will further guide us on how to create a way forward for lasting solutions.
” The United Nations (UN) Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women describes GBV as any act of gender-based assault that results in, or likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life,” he added.
He further lamented that in Nigeria, just like in many other African countries, it is disturbing when the beating of children by their parents, and wives by their husbands and vice versa, are seen as widely acceptable sanction form of discipline, “hence, many women in Nigeria do not consider battering by their spouse as an abuse due to the acceptance of some abusive behaviour as ‘normal.
“It is also reported that ‘every day in many homes, domestic violence is being committed with impunity without the culprits knowing that crime was being committed and the victim not knowing that his or her rights were being trampled upon’. Similarly and surprising is the assertion that some women even regard some form of spousal abuse as a sign of love.”
He, however, expressed delight that the Nigerian law enforcement institutions are not left out in the current wave of combating the issue of domestic violence, pointing out that the police are now receiving training organized by various International Partners, NGOs, Rights activists and the promptness of governments on the appropriate response to such violence.
“The Western world has made significant strides in advocating for gender equality and human rights. However, gender-based violence remains a painful reality. This explains the progress around the gains of showcasing the existing gaps.
“Through legislation, awareness campaigns, and support networks, Western societies continue to work towards eradicating violence against women. It is vital for us to recognize that gender-based violence knows no boundaries, affecting individuals from varying social backgrounds. We must continue to address crime prevention, raise awareness, and provide comprehensive support to survivors to ensure their empowerment.
“Religions have long been influential social institutions. They possess the power to shape people’s attitudes and behaviors. While various religious doctrines promote love, respect, and equality, instances of gender-based violence continue to persist.
“It is important to separate the misinterpretation of religious scriptures from the core principles they convey. Let us engage in critical examination of our religious texts and foster dialogue within our communities to challenge those interpretations that perpetuate violence against women.
“Conclusively, In Nigeria, hardly does any month elapse without the unfortunate news of homicide as a result of domestic violence in the country. Couples find it easy to murder one another for trivial reasons, and it is only when such incidents happen that people will start recalling and speaking out about their knowledge of the couple’s marital problems.
“People should be encouraged to overcome this culture of silence and shame and speak out about their knowledge of domestic violence in any home before it is too late. Speaking out after it has resulted in the death or serious harm of one of the couples is of no use.
“For instance, during the 2015 presidential election in Nigeria, a pregnant woman allegedly stabbed her husband to death over trivial issue of political party affiliation.
“The couple supports different political parties and presidential candidates, and an argument ensued over which of the candidates would win the presidential election. In the heat of the argument, the wife allegedly stabbed her husband to death in their home with a kitchen knife.
“The neighbours acknowledged that the couple usually had marital issues that often resulted in physical violence. While the increase in incidences of domestic violence is worrying, the most troubling is the fact that many Nigerians are still grappling to understand what constitutes domestic violence, its effect, and the fact that it is a crime.
“In the midst of such a lack of awareness and understanding, how can the issue of domestic violence be effectively tackled in Nigeria if the majority of the populace does not perceive it as a crime?
“This is one of the most challenging aspects of the efforts to combat domestic violence in Nigeria. The onerous task of combating this social malaise should not be left to the government, security agencies and NGOs alone.
“The traditional and religious leaders have a vital role to play to ensure that these cultural and traditional beliefs and practices that inhibit the understanding and sustain the incidence of domestic violence are jettisoned in their respective communities.
“It is evident that this issue requires collective action. Breaking the cycle of violence and fostering gender equality demands a united front. By embracing the principles of respect, education, and empowerment, we can create a society where individuals of all genders can thrive,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Police Community Relations Committee (PCRC), Badawa branch, has bestowed the Award for Excellence and Outstanding Performance on CP Gumel, for his uncommon achievements in policing Kano state.
The Kano Chief Sheriff received the Award during a colourful ceremony held at Main Hall, Tahir Guest Palace on Saturday.