Tuesday September 17, 2013 was not a normal day in the Nigerian House of Representatives as several Honorable Members decided to embrace a free for all fight. The astonishing occurrence was not that this happened as it has somewhat become a norm; it was that there was a recorded account of violence against men in Nigeria. A seemingly furious female legislator dealt several blows to her male colleague to the amazement of several folks that witnessed the incidence.
In a non-related occurrence in Lagos State, a certain man once initiated the dissolution of his 32-year-old marriage, his reason being that his wife beats him up at the slightest provocation. I am a woman and I believe that violence against men is as serious as violence against women but the true challenge is that our men are not speaking out.
It is a somewhat normal occurrence to see folks laugh their heart out on hearing stories of how a man was beaten up by a woman. This has increasingly reinforced the culture of silence on the part of men as they feel ashamed to report incidences of violence. The society largely deals pity when cases of violence against women are reported whilst dealing scorn and mockery when the tables turn and a man becomes the victim.
This trend undeniably starts from childhood. Statements that seek to communicate that boys should not cry and that a girl cannot beat a boy subtly reinforce the notion that boys are supermen that do not possess tear glands. On growing into adulthood, the young man has over time absorbed the attitude of holding back the tears at all cost. This puts the young man at a risk of not daring to speak out even when clear acts of violence is being extended to him by a woman. The fear of being laughed at and mocked by men and women becomes the beginning of wisdom ensuring that silence is the norm.
This is not right. I think we should start having conversations around the issues of violence against men. It is on the increase in Nigeria. We can start from the home. Parents should allow their boys to cry when hurt. They are human beings and not supermen. The girls should be made to understand that hurting the boys is wrong the same way as boys hurting girls is wrong. I have a young boy that I am parenting and I have since enshrined in him the thought that it is okay for boys to cry when hurt. This helps him speak out at all time with the knowledge that his masculinity is safe even in the face of tears. My young daughter knows that it is not okay to beat her brother as it hurts him the same way it would hurt her should he beat her.
It is not okay to stifle the right of a child to cry when hurt. This may seem like the right thing to do but adulthood presents a varying result on such a child. The best thing to do is to teach young children to express their fears and hurts and lovingly guide them towards the path of healing and strength.
Women hurt men and men hurt women when violence is tolerated. The same way we speak out on behalf of women should be the same way we speak out on behalf of our men. Violence does no good as it is the only option available to the incompetent. In the same way I advocate zero violence against women, I also advocate zero violence against men. Violence is simply wrong and horrible.
About Blossom Ozurumba:
Blossom is a writer, compère and public servant. She co-founded, Digital Media Development Initiative, a non-profit that contributes to sustainable development of Nigeria’s individuals and organizations through the innovative use of Digital Media. She has increasingly become known as a gender equity advocate with her core messaging that demands non-compromise in valuing competence, capacity and character. She currently works as the Technical Assistant on New Media to the Honorable Minister of State, Petroleum Resources. She lives in Abuja Nigeria. To relax, she plays golf, dabbles with photography for www.applausenigeria.com and reads African Literature. She hopes to write a book one day while sharpening her writing skills on www.thecable.ng.