Kill Me Not, Please!

Participants at a Women’s March Barcelona Event    Photo: African Press Club

I went to see a theatre performance last Friday night at Centre Cultural Francesca Bonnemaison in Barcelona. At first, I hesitated only because it was accompanied with a tab of 10 euros. As a student, I unashamedly count my pennies. The city is not exceptionally economical particularly after paying the pricy monthly rent.

My friend Caroline who invited me promised a money-back guarantee, so I grabbed it. It turned out to be an absolutely fabulous evening. The production was top-notch – great lighting, stellar performances, pointed story lines, which meant no money-back. Tears!

The show which lasted about two hours, touched on the subject of violence. It was organized by Women’s March Barcelona to mark the V-day Barcelona 2019, a worldwide campaign that raises awareness about violence against women. It did a magnificent job of throwing a searchlight on an important topic. Remarkably, 100 women volunteered to organise the V-day, a strong indication of how passionate the womenfolk are on matters concerning them.

Violence against women is rife in Spain. I thought that this was mainly an African or Nigerian problem. How wrong I was. Available data indicates that a total of 98 women died in the hands of their partners in 2018 in Spain. They call it femicidios in Spanish meaning femicide. I learnt new things through this article because I previously had never encountered this word. According to Oxford dictionary, it means “the killing of a woman or girl, in particular by a man and on account of her gender.”

It must be horrifying to be pummelled by a spouse, especially one that has professed love to you. It’s worse when he is enraged. The battering can’t be pretty.

 Harrowing Tales

The accounts are markedly depressing and involve victims of all ages from 20s to 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. In one instance, a 90 years old woman was poisoned by her husband in the nursing home where they lived; a 71 years old woman was murdered with a baseball bat by her 81 years old husband, who thereafter committed suicide; a 56 years old man shot his wife and then killed himself; a 49 years old woman was beaten to death by her partner in a town square.

Some were stabbed to death, dumped in a ditch after being beaten to death, suffocated, beheaded, shot with a gun and strangled. Many of the women also left children behind. More information is available at: feminicidio.net.

In Nigeria, while concrete statistics may be hard to find, the situation is similar. Violence against women is prevalent and many women fail to speak up for various reasons: stigmatization; family pressure to remain in marriage; no help from authorities; inability to strike out on their own due to lack of financial independence, etc.

A friend who works as a human rights lawyer in Nigeria tells me it’s rough. She helps victims of gender based and domestic violence. Domestic violence is not only between a man and woman but from parents to children as well. Gender based violence can also exist outside the scope of domestic violence.

From her experience, help for women in these circumstances are limited. Law enforcement agencies nicely dodge such cases because it is regarded as “family matter”. Churches advice women to go and build their homes on account of the Bible being against divorce. Parents instruct their children to stay in marriage and endure.

There are different forms of abuse namely physical, emotional, psychological, verbal and emotional. She tells me that from her work so far, she can safely conclude that gender and domestic violence is largely fuelled by a culture of patriarchy. Also, environmental and social factors with regard to what one is exposed to during childhood plays a role. Others include psychological issues such as anger and then poverty. She further mentions that online groups now advocate for women to leave their marriages based on flimsy excuses, which she does not support.

I personally think no one should die in the hands of a partner for any reason. You need to acknowledge that a situation has become dangerous. My question for the menfolk is: where’s the love? You cannot kill someone you love. I’ve heard some men say the women provoke them with their mouth. I don’t believe that merits snuffing the life out of a human being.

Honestly, any man who tries that nonsense on me will get a frying pan flying across his face. I’m joking! But I may not be joking after all. If I’m pinned down and a frying pan is the closest item to me, I might just use it. Sorry.

More information on the activities of Women’s March Barcelona is available at: www.womensmarchbcn.org. Women in Nigeria seeking help in this regard can go to Project Alert: www.projectalertnig.org and International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), which is on FB as: www.facebook.com/fidanig/

What are your thoughts? What will you do in a volatile situation (both men and women as I learnt there’s also man battering)? How do we solve this problem or at least reduce it to the barest minimum? Enjoy and do have a great week!

 

11 comments

  1. Thank you for this great blog entry. I have been puzzling over the source of violence. Therapy and/or learning non-violent communication may help in some cases. One story about violence is that just asking “how was your day” may be taken the wrong way and lead to a beating by a man with low self-esteem, who sees this question as an attack. Changing standards, for example about acceptable ways that males talk about women, can also help. In fact, after the V-day regular performances we had a so-called Teatro Foro, a type of Improv, where the audience was asked to step into the roles of the actors. One member of the audience, acting the role of the male friend of the verbally aggressive husband, completely changed the macho talk to one supportive of women. So there is hope. But could there be people who are not reachable by therapy or social pressure? A very scary story came out the other day about how abusers sometimes have strategies about their abuse (rather than “blowing up” under emotional stress); i.e. that they pre-meditate their violence, not starting to abuse their partners until they are many years into a relationship and stuck in some way. Scary business that is hard to look at and I am glad that you did show light on what is happening in Spain, in Nigeria and everywhere.

  2. I see a lack of self-love pervading societies everywhere. It must take a sad human being who out of anger, envy or whatever, decides to take another person’s life. We as a people need help!

  3. A wonderful topic indeed, I certainly applaude your insight. Gender and domestic based voilence are becoming rampant cases these days owing to a number of factors viz: values, orientation, background, culture, etc. Whatsoever be the case, a man is not expected to batter his lover, since he loves her, even when love gets sour.

    Candidly, society here in Africa and Nigeria protects the male gender mostly in marriage and gives the man a superiority over the female gender. Thus, the culture gives room for inequality amongst the spouses.

    The common ways of avoiding or better still preventing these issues are the mutual planks of understanding and communications between the spouses. Mutual and friendly dialogue, Temperance and patience, which most often than not are pillars for enduring love affair.

    We all need a social reengineering to live better with our love ones and spouses.

  4. I witnessed my sister being physically abused in a relationship… not a pleasant experience at all.

    Men need to learn anger management and laws to protect women as victims of violence need to be strengthened.

    Thanks for bringing this subject mater to the fore.

    1. Violence in all its ramifications must be called out. It would help to do a study about how many men has been the victim of homicide by their “female” partners; including the stats of how many man are the hapless victims of egregious mental, physical and emotional abuse and assault by their wives and partners.
      In North America, as a student, my girlfriend to call the Police for very flimsy excuses, whereupon law enforcement would insist that I leave my own house for the night under threat of arrest. Why do most men naturally die before their wives, as a matter of course? It is from the cumulative financial pressure inflicted by “wives” over the years.
      All in all, femicide is abhorrent, but provocation and involuntary manslaughter, including mental insanity are all extenuating factors in Law.

  5. Thank you for this article, specially for rising up this terrible situation that Spanish women, and other women all over the world are suffering. As you say, it’s real, and it’s happening in Europe, the epitome of Human and individual Rights!

  6. There is no one stop shop that gives the definitive answer for domestic abuse. The spectrum of individual, sociological , financial and political influences that leads to abuse is wide and nuanced. One fact we can rely on is men abuse more than women. A liberal enlightened society is best placed to address the problem as women are more likely to be seen by themselves and men as equals through universal education, equal career opportunities and by example.
    Having an ethos of genuine christian principles such as treating others as we would like to be treated rely hugely on giving families and individuals equal opportunities from the poorest upwards. All of the above is hard won and still to be won in all societies and nations so far, but we must be resolute in our determination to improve things starting with ourselves.

  7. A further thought is that institutional abuse of women is universal whether it’s less pay than men even in “advanced” countries or victimisation of pregnant women in the work place. One startling fact I’ve recently heard on BBC4 radio on Woman’s Hour is that aboriginal women in Australia are 21 (yes, twenty one) times more likely to be imprisoned than white women.
    You can safely assume it’s not because they are more criminal. Such facts affect all of us no matter where we live. I’m sure each reader has their own story to tell.
    The BBC have recently launched a streaming service called BBC Sounds. You can download an app. and enjoy whatever you prefer.

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