Over the past few years, Nigeria has grappled with a growing femicide epidemic that has recently surged to alarming levels. This horrifying trend has become even more evident as social media platforms have been flooded with reports of brutal killings of women in less than 24 hours. Such tragic incidents demand our attention, urging us to acknowledge the gravity of the situation and fueling the need to speak up as feminists, especially ANGRY FEMINISTS, because our anger is undeniably valid.
The Femicide Epidemic
Femicide, defined as intentionally killing women based on gender, has reached epidemic proportions across Nigeria; 1 in 3 women globally (736 million) have been subjected to physical and/or sexual violence at least once in their lifetime since the age of 15, according to UN WOMEN. Unfortunately, women face numerous forms of violence, including domestic abuse, sexual assault, and honour killings. Such acts are often carried out with impunity, contributing to a pervasive culture of gender inequality and the normalisation of violence against women.
A United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) 2020 Research states that Globally 81,000 women and girls were killed in 2020, around 47,000 of them (58 per cent) died at the hands of an intimate partner or a family member, which equals to a woman or girl being killed every 11 minutes in their home.
Social Media Exposures
In the digital age, social media platforms have become powerful tools for sharing stories and mobilising support. However, their use has increasingly revealed the dark and harrowing reality of the femicide epidemic in Nigeria and the role of patriarchy. Within a short span of time, numerous cases of femicide have emerged online to shock and appal online communities, from cases like that of Nigerian gospel singer Osinachi Nwachukwu who died after suffering from alleged domestic violence from her husband, Peter Nwachukwu.
Peter allegedly kicked Osinachi in the chest, leading to a blood clot that eventually killed her, to the social media TechBoy Benjamin Best, also known as Killaboi, who confessed to murdering his girlfriend during an argument and leaving her body to rotten for days and as at today is still using his social media to seek for sympathy “see screenshots attached”, to David Idibie, who was arrested in Lagos State for the death of his 42-year-old wife, Juliana Idibie, who was found dead in their apartment.
The above stories highlight the brutality women face daily and the urgent need for justice and change, but Victim Blaming and patriarchal norms play a significant role in enabling femicide and violence against women in Nigeria. These harmful attitudes perpetuate a culture that shifts blame onto the victims (women) rather than holding the perpetrators (Men) accountable.
Society often questions the behaviour, appearance, or choices of women who have experienced violence, suggesting they somehow provoked or deserved the abuse, or when they die due to abuse, questions like “Why did she not leave?” she must have done something to deserve it and often siding with the perpetrators. This victim-blaming mentality not only absolves the perpetrators of their responsibility but also discourages women from seeking help or reporting incidents of abuse.
Moreover, patriarchal structures reinforce power imbalances that position men as superior and women as subordinate, leading to the normalisation and justification of violence against women. These deeply entrenched societal beliefs must be dismantled for any significant progress to be made in addressing the femicide epidemic and ensuring the safety and rights of women in Nigeria.
A perfect example is the recent case of a man (killaboi) who killed his girlfriend and had the audacity to take to social media afterwards, posting about the incident with seemingly no fear of consequence and a faux apology and the men who sympathised with him and blamed the girl, who is dead with alleged body parts missing. This blatant display of entitlement and lack of accountability reflects the deeply entrenched sexism within Nigerian society.
In a society that not only allows but tolerates such behaviour, it becomes evident that patriarchy plays a crucial role in perpetuating violence against women. The unequal power dynamics between genders create an environment where women are viewed as objects to be controlled, subjugated, and violently silenced when they resist. This ingrained sexism perpetuates a culture where violence against women is normalised and often goes unpunished.
It is essential to recognise that this example is not an isolated incident but rather indicative of the broader societal acceptance of violence against women. This illustrates the urgent need for a collective societal shift rejecting victim blaming, dismantling patriarchal systems, and holding perpetrators accountable for their actions. By challenging and dismantling these oppressive systems, we can only create a society that prioritises women’s safety, well-being, and rights.
It is crucial to address victim-blaming head-on, shift the focus from scrutinising women’s choices to holding perpetrators accountable for their actions, and do this with anger. Instead of questioning why a woman was out late at night or took certain risks, we must emphasise the responsibility of individuals to respect consent, exercise self-control, and resolve conflicts without resorting to violence.
The Validity of Our Anger
Anger is often stigmatised, particularly when it comes from women. Society expects women to be calm, composed, and accommodating in the face of injustice. However, in the wake of the femicide epidemic in Nigeria, anger is not only justified but also necessary; we should not just all be Feminists, But WE SHOULD ALL BE ANGRY FEMINISTS. It is a powerful catalyst for action, demanding accountability and driving the fight for justice and gender equality.
Our anger should not be dismissed or belittled; it should be channelled into meaningful activism and social change. Through rage, yes, RAGE, we bring attention to the injustices women endure, challenge the status quo and rally support for policies that protect and empower women. Expressing anger is an act of resistance against a system that perpetuates violence and allows femicides to go unpunished.
As feminists, our anger is undeniably valid and essential in driving meaningful change. It is a reaction to the injustices and inequalities we witness in society, particularly in cases of femicide and violence against women. Rather than stifling or dismissing our anger, we should embrace it as a powerful force for advocacy, mobilisation, and dismantling oppressive systems.
Anger is a natural response to experiencing or witnessing harm and injustice. It serves as a catalyst for action, propelling us to demand justice, raise awareness, and challenge the status quo. Through our anger, we amplify the voices of victims and survivors, urging society to take notice and address the deep-rooted issues that perpetuate femicide and violence against women.
Furthermore, our anger is grounded in the urgency of the situation. Every life lost to femicide is a tragic reminder of the dire consequences of gender inequality and the failure of society to protect its most vulnerable members. Our anger fuels our commitment to change, pushes us to relentlessly advocate for women’s rights, and ensures that the issue’s urgency is not ignored or brushed aside.
It is crucial to validate and embrace our anger as angry feminists. It empowers us to challenge oppressive systems, demand accountability from institutions and individuals, and create a world where women can live free from violence and discrimination. Our anger is not irrational or unwarranted but rather a justified response to the systemic injustices women face.
In conclusion, our anger as angry feminists is valid because it signals our refusal to accept the status quo. It is a call to action, reminding us of the urgent need for change in addressing the femicide epidemic and violence against women. By harnessing our anger, we can channel it into meaningful activism, mobilise communities, and work together to create a more equitable and just society for all.
It is crucial for Nigerian society and its leaders to respond swiftly and effectively to the femicide and gender-based violence crisis.
The government must prioritise the protection of women and implement comprehensive legal frameworks like the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act and the Maputo Protocol that address gender-based violence. Strengthening law enforcement agencies and providing them with proper training to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of gender-based violence and femicide is essential.
Furthermore, cultural norms that perpetuate gender inequality and condone violence against women must be challenged. Educational programs should be implemented to raise awareness about women’s rights, consent, and the importance of gender equality. Additionally, support systems such as helplines and shelters should be supported to provide immediate assistance to women facing threats or imminent danger.
Education and awareness campaigns are vital to combat these deeply embedded societal issues. Teaching young boys and men about consent, healthy relationships, and gender equality from an early age can help challenge toxic masculinity and patriarchy. Engaging community and religious leaders to advocate for women’s rights and condemn violence can also have a powerful impact on societal attitudes.
Moreover, legal reforms must be implemented and enforced to ensure that perpetrators of femicide and violence against women face strict penalties. This includes establishing fast-track courts dedicated to handling gender-based violence cases, improving the efficiency of law enforcement agencies in conducting thorough investigations, and increasing resources allocated to supporting survivors.
The gender-based violence and femicide epidemic in Nigeria has reached a tipping point, leaving us with no choice but to confront the horrifying reality faced by women in the country.
As angry feminists, we must continue to express our anger in a constructive and impactful manner. Through our collective outrage, we can demand justice, challenge societal norms, and push for systemic changes that protect and empower women. Together, we can work towards ensuring a future where gender-based violence is eradicated and women can live without fear.
I am calling on all my sisters to join me; let us transform our anger into fuel for change, creating a society that values women’s lives, well-being, and rights. We will only see a Nigeria where femicide and gender-based violence are distant memories.
By Priye Diri, Filmmaker, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Response Expert and 2023 Mandela Washington Fellow