International Human Rights Day - Violence against women | Press Releases | DW | 10.12.2015
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Press Releases

International Human Rights Day - Violence against women

Women around the world are fleeing - not only from war and poverty, but often also from men and violence. Lateefa Jaafar from DW's Hausa editorial team describes the situation for women in her native Nigeria.

Lateefa Jaafar

Lateefa Jaafar

You were a journalist in Nigeria, now you live in Germany. How do the expectations placed on you as a journalist differ between the two?

I am from Kano, in the north of Nigeria. At my former employer Freedom Radio, women were the majority in the newsroom. It is usually men though who are out and about as reporters in Nigeria. That is different in Germany. Here I do everything. I research and report on events and organize and moderate my own interviews. In Germany there is less risk of experiencing violence if you report about a demonstration, for instance.

How equal is life for women and men in Nigeria?

Women and men do not have equal rights, not as it should be. That is because of structures that parts of society vehemently hold on to, unfortunately. The ruling is still that men are meant to dominate and women and girls are inferior. That then leads to parents treating their daughters accordingly. Naked oppression is thriving under the cloak of culture and tradition. At the same time, Nigeria has enacted a law this year that bans female genital mutilation. It is too early to say how successful it will be. But it is a signal for all of the countries of Africa.

Which forms of violence do women in Nigeria have to fear?

There is domestic abuse, rape, forced prostitution - even though there are laws against all these. But as long as there is corruption, and an abuser only needs money, these acts will continue to go unpunished. And knowledge of this spreads around and endangers women even more. In that sense corruption fans the flames of violence against women and girls.

Events like the International Human Rights Day or the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women call for support from the media. How can the media contribute to combat this evil?

People in Nigeria have a strong affinity for the media, and they are using it to inform themselves a lot, often via the radio, nearly everywhere. The topic of violence against women and girls though is rarely on the agenda - especially since it is still rather taboo in society. Both of these things need to change. Awareness of the injustice is often lacking. Courage is lacking too. We need more mothers who stand up for their daughters. We need more journalists who do not tire of raising this issue. I reach a lot of people through the media - victims as well as aggressors, accomplices, relatives, followers, the uninformed and the ignorant. As members of the media we cannot allow this opportunity pass by.

Where do you see women's rights in Nigeria in 20 years?

For there to be women's rights, there need to be more women who claim their rights, such as the right to education. If there is better education, there will be more women able to persistently and persuasively denounce the injustice done to women and girls. And more media in which human rights and education play a role. We would then have more women who feel solidarity with each other and would take a stand whenever a woman experiences injustice. A good start has been made with Aisha Jummai. She is one of the five female ministers in the cabinet of President Buhari - and a welcome interviewee in my DW program.