THE fate of women in warring societies is a very pathetic one, which has really attracted a global attention. Investigation has revealed that women contribute more than half of the internally displaced population (IDP) and an army of refugees in Africa.
Many of them paraded severe agony of the mind; they have had a bitter experience as several unspeakable atrocities have been committed against them.
Oftentimes, these helpless women were forced to have canal pleasure with their children; some daughters were made to engage in sex bouts with their father or male relatives on the directives of the armed combatants; so traumatic!
It is glaring that several women and young ladies have become victims and subjected to a lot of nefarious practices such as sex slavery and gang rape in armed conflict.
Rape is one of the notable atrocities suffered by womenfolk in conflict ridden societies which have become a weapon of war in recent time. While gang rape has also become a regular feature of armed conflict in Africa, innocent female civilians become victims of this dastardly act irrespective of age, status, ethnic background and education.
This was evidenced in the case of Josette, a victim of Rwandan crisis who narrated how she was raped by a lot of people, and at different times. She stressed further that she could not ‘think how many times’. Also, in February 27, 2004, Darfu, Sudan where the ‘Janjaweeds’ militia men launched a bestial attack on Tawaila village where over hundred women and young girls, even as young as eight years were raped.
The marathon gang rape was conducted by these militants on their victims to humiliate them in front of their relatives and husbands. Up to 14 militia men may pounce on a woman in such a show of shame. Over 40,000 women and girls were reportedly raped in Sudan, many of whom got pregnant in such a horrible circumstances.
In the similar vein, it is imperative to note that women in conflict societies are also at the risk of injury and physical disability resulting from attacks from the armed combatants. In Sudan, very young girls and women have been reported to have had several degrees of injuries inflicted on them by the Janjaweed militia terrorists, many whom have had their legs broken while others were inflicted with horrible marks on their bodies and faces.
The savage action of physical dismemberment of the victims by the lunatic Janjaweed fighters was to prevent the innocent and armless female civilians from escaping as they were subjected to gang rape and sexual slavery.
These victims of rape are always experiencing psychological torments; they feel dishonoured and disrespected by the societies in Africa. Due to the psychological trauma, many of them are no more comfortable being in the midst of men and develop a deep hatred against male folks. This trauma may even produce another set of negativities and dispassionate feelings such as eagerness for commitment of suicide.
Continuing, many of these victims are subjected to socio-economic problems as they rejected not only by their husbands, relatives but by the whole societies. Societies see them as ill destined or the ‘warehouses’ of HIV/AIDS.
These victims and their children face public vituperation and discrimination, they were abandoned or enjoy very little support from former husbands, and they experience severe socio-economic hardship in a bid to cater for their children.
Similarly, many female victims of armed conflict have had their arms chopped off, and some of whom have lost their hubbies to the armed conflicts encounter enormous task to take care of their family, thus affect their productivity, ditto resort to street begging.
So sad that these innocent women always face the risk of murder. The genocidal war between the Hutus and Tutsis still fresh in my memory, where not less than 400,000 women lost their lives. In Liberia, the NPFL rebels were reported to have raped a lot of women and young girls during the civil war crusade, they were also killed, particularly those who trying to refuse the rape attempts of the rebels.
In conclusion, women encounter a lot of challenges in her everyday life. She is subjected to a lot of agonies and pains. Several crimes are usually perpetuated against her, ranging from battery, sexual economic imperialism, customary oppression, political animosity, rape and sexual abuse, injury to murder.
It is imperative for every society to imbibe and promote “Gender Justice”, since its demands that there should be effective justice system, which engenders fairness, due process and equity to guide the affairs of state.
Every society must show sincere commitment to gender justice as a peace building initiative.
By Idowu Ayodele.
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