Uwom Eze: “Uncivilised Treatment of Female Suspects”: Bundled Editorial of a National Daily

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Dr Uwom Eze

The Editorial page of  May 7, 2013 in one of the front-line national newspapers in Nigeria focused on a very important issue on the subject of maltreatment of female detainees in police cell and prisons with regards to sexual abuse. We have inadvertently tolerated such gross violations of Human Rights at our police stations, detention centres and prisons as part of  some hopeless resignation to fate in the hands of people who are supposed to serve the citizenry and protect human dignity but have turned their staff of office against the people and constituted themselves maximum authorities.

Unfortunately, one of the factors fueling gender based violence is the pervasive female stereotypes in our community. It is this stereotype that portrays women as objects for possession and for pleasure, and it’s not surprising that most women unfortunate to be detained in police cells or prisons in Nigeria, and most of Africa, bear scars of sexual abuse(most of time silently).

 
Laudable as the effort of Punch Newspapers to bring this malady to the national discuss might be, it is nonetheless laced with a typical stereotype which tends to classify women as “vectors” of diseases and not rightly as humans who have been abused, often by men who are mindless and in actual sense are vectors of human failure, depravation and low life. The following statement in the Punch Editorial: But more frightening is the health hazards such sexually harassed female detainees pose to the wider society when freed. Certainly, they become agents for the spread of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS, gonorrhoea and syphilis. Other contagious ailments such as tuberculosis and cholera easily spread is ill informed and most unfortunate.
 
Punch Editorial should be educated that “more frightening” is the impunity of those in authority who abuse their power and violate the vulnerable; “more frightening” is a society which has become unsafe for everyone of us; “more frightening” is the savagery and inhumanity in our midst; “more frightening” is the complacency of the entire society which has failed to hold people to account and firmly demand for justice; “more frightening” is the lack of support services for survivors of sexual violence; and “more frightening”  is the absence of appropriate forensic medicine service for the management of the survivors, and for collection of forensic medical evidence for the justice system. These and more are the “more frightening” situations that an informed Punch Editorial should have been concerned about, rather than the apparent re-victimization of already traumatized women in that poorly conceived statement which is dripping from a poisonous gravy of female stereotype as sexual objects that are vectors of diseases following sexual assault. This has been responsible for the stigmatization and continuing violence that survivors of sexual assault experience in our society.
 
Punch Newspaper should withdraw that unfortunate statement and correct a wrong impression which has devalued a beautiful case the paper has tried to make for the respect of human dignity in their Editorial page of this day.
 
Dr Uwom Eze, a Consultant Pathologist and a Public Affairs Commentator writes from Ibadan, Nigeria. 
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About Laz Ude Eze

A public health physician, health systems consultant and an advocate for good governance, health equity and social justice. Authored the book, "A Companion to Practical Pathology" and founded HAPPYNigeria in 2006. I'm also a Brand Ambassador of Social Good Nigeria. To read my full profile, copy and paste this link on your URL and check it out >> http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=35254652&trk=tab_pro Your feedback on all posts are welcome. Follow me on twitter - @donlaz4u.

One response »

  1. I disagree, Dr. Eze. The Editorial in no way brands women as “vectors” of diseases. I suppose we all should be more interested in the issue and not the people. You can change my mind, though, if you succeed in publishing clear excerpts of the Editorial where Punch directly holds the women in question responsible for the sexual threat to the society. Cheers!

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