Cultural issues in violence against women and ritual killings in Nigeria: Assessing the implications for sustainable development
The issue of violence against women has remained a growing source of concern to social scientists, human rights groups and the international community as a whole. Various studies have identified violence against women as a serious public health concern that inhibits gender parity and sustainable development. Violence against women, unfortunately, is disturbingly widespread in Nigeria and has assumed critical dimensions including forced marriage, trafficking in women, rape, acid baths and the killing of women for ritual purposes. As noted by various reports available to this study, the spate of killings for ritual purposes is at an alarming rate in Nigeria with women documented as primary victims. This study emerged from the recognition that the killing of women for ritual purposes is a serious gender-based violence with development implications, and is not unconnected to harmful cultural beliefs and prejudices regarding the female identity and the value of women in the society. To substantiate this thesis, a cross-sectional survey involving four hundred respondents conveniently selected from four purposively selected cities in the Southern part of Nigeria; namely Lagos, Warri, Yenagoa and Port Harcourt, was carried out. Data collected and analyzed using descriptive statistics such as charts and percentage analysis, revealed that women are usually killed for ritual purposes than men mainly because women are perceived as soft targets and ‘objects’ with intrinsic ‘enriching’ value. The study thus recommends the formulation and implementation of policies that protect women from violence and the abolition of cultural beliefs that endanger women in the society.
Keywords: Culture; Development; Gender-Based Violence; Ritual Killing; Violence against Women