Psychological Effect Of Conflict/Violence On Women And Children
Gender based violence is an age long problem that has been existing in Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State which has to be addressed. The study aims to investigate the psychological effect of conflict and violence on women and children. A uniform set of structured questionnaire was designed by the researcher using the research questions and hypotheses. A total of 200 (200) respondents were drawn from the total population of 309,633; a sample size of 200 was drawn and all were females aged 18 years and above. The findings revealed that majority (41.1%) of the respondents indicated that all of the above (psychological/mental health problems, traumatic experiences, hinders women’s contribution to national development, violate women”s human) were the consequences of gender based Violence. The highest proportion of respondents (41.7%) indicated that the major form of GBV in Nigeria was preference of male child. The greatest percentage of respondents 80 (41.6%) perceived GBV as high. The results also revealed that the highest percentage of women in the study indicated that illiteracy/ignorant and low socio-economic status are the leading causes of gender-based violence. This calls for serious intervention of security agencies and others involved in safeguarding the lives of citizens.
The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993, defines violence against women as “any act of gender based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life”.2 It encompasses, but is not limited to, “physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence and violence related to
Exploitation; physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere; trafficking
in women and forced prostitution; and physical, sexual and psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the state, wherever it occurs.”
1.1 Background of the Study
There is no doubt that war affects women and men differently. Whenever there has been conflict, women and children have been known to receive the hard end of the stick. Women and children are often the most vulnerable and prone to being hit the hardest. Throughout history we see examples of terrible abuses against women and children. From the 1.1 million children killed during the Holocaust. To the many women and children raped or killed during the Rwandan Genocide. Women who survive these atrocities often have to live with the vivid and terrifying images of rape, war and death for the rest of their lives. Women also suffer from sexually transmitted diseases, stigmatization and sometimes unwanted pregnancies. They are faced with the daunting task of keeping families together after displacement, providing food, clothing and shelter in what is in most instances, destroyed infrastructure, for their children and their families. Effects of domestic violence on children, result from witnessing domestic violence in a home where one of their parents are abusing the other parent, plays a tremendous role on the well-being and developmental growth of children witnessing the violence.
In 2009 in the Philippines, it was estimated that as many as 7 to 14 million children were exposed to domestic violence with about 3.3 million children exposed to domestic violence in their homes every year. Children who witness domestic violence in the home often believe that they are to blame, live in a constant state of fear and are 15 times more likely to be victims of child abuse. Close observation during an interaction can alert providers to the need for further investigation and intervention, such as dysfunctions in the physical, behavioral, emotional, and social areas of life, and can aid in early intervention and assistance for child victims. The research seek to investigate the Psychological effect of conflict and violence on women and children
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Violent conflict is one of the most important development challenges facing the world today. Although the incidence of civil wars has decreased in recent years (Harbom and Wallensteen 2009), the legacy of violence persists across many countries around the world, especially in Africa, Caucasia, the Balkans, and the Middle East. The economic, political and social consequences of civil wars are immense. War displaces population, destroys capital and infrastructure, disrupts schooling, damages the social fabric, endangers civil liberties, and creates health and famine crises. Almost 750,000 people die as a result of armed conflict each year (Geneva Declaration Secretariat 2008), and more than 20 million people were internally displaced by civil wars at the end of 2007 (UNHCR 2008). Any of these effects will have considerable consequences for long-term development outcomes, including the educational attainment of populations exposed to violence. Yet while there is a growing consensus that development interventions and the promotion of democracy worldwide cannot be disassociated from the restrictions caused by violent conflict, we have limited rigorous evidence on the consequences of violent conflict on the lives of people exposed to violence. The microeconomic impact of war on civilian populations can be substantial and persistent. Not only do people living in war zones suffer injuries, death and have their property destroyed, they may also be displaced from their homes and lose their means of survival.
Children are especially adversely affected by the destruction of physical capital and the deterioration of economic conditions given the age-specific aspects of many human capital investments. Civil wars and associated physical destruction can interrupt the education of children through the damage to schools, absence of teachers, fears of insecurity and changes in family structures and household income. Children can also be negatively affected by the worsening of their health due to the association of violent conflict with famines, widespread malnutrition, and outbreaks of infectious diseases, post-war trauma, and the destruction of health facilities. The destruction of human capital during childhood is a well-documented mechanism leading to poverty traps, given the severe long-
run effects it can have on individual and household welfare via the future labor market outcomes and economic performance of affected children (see Mincer 1974, Shultz 1961 and Becker 1962). These micro-level effects of civil wars remain largely under-researched. The problem confronting this research therefore is to investigate the psychological effect of conflict and violence on women and children.
1.3 Objective of the Study
- To determine the nature of conflict and violence on women and children
- To determine the psychological effect of conflict and violence on women and children.
1.4 Research Questions
- What is the nature of conflict and violence on women and children?
- What is the psychological effect of conflict and violence on women and children?
1.5 Significance of the Study
The study proffer a framework for the formulation and implementation of policies aimed at eliminating conflict and violence against women and children
1.6 Statement of Hypothesis
- Ho The level of conflict and violence against women and children is low
Hi The level of conflict and violence against women and children is high
- Ho The psychological effect of conflict and violence on women and children is low
Hi The psychological effect of conflict and violence on women and children is high.
1.7 Scope of the Study
The research focuses on the appraisal of the psychological effect of conflict and violence on women and children.
1.8 Definition of Terms
Sustainable peace must be the priority of global society where state actors and non-state actors do not only seek for the profits in a near future that might violate the stable state of peace. Conflict triangle
Johan Galtung’s conflict triangle works on the assumption that the best way to define peace is to define violence, its opposite. It reflects the normative aim of preventing, managing, limiting and overcoming violence.
Direct (overt) violence, e.g., direct attack, massacre.
Death by avoidable reasons such as malnutrition. Structural violence is indirect violence caused by an unjust structure and is not to be equated with an act of God.
Cultural violence occurs as a result of the cultural assumptions that blind one to direct or structural violence. For example, one may be indifferent toward the homeless, or even consider their expulsion or extermination a good thing.
Each corner of Galtung’s triangle can relate to the other two. Ethnic cleansing can be an example of all three.
Cost of conflict
Cost of conflict is a tool which attempts to calculate the price of conflict to the human race. The idea is to examine this cost, not only in terms of the deaths and casualties and the economic costs borne by the people involved, but also the social, developmental, environmental and strategic costs of conflict. The approach considers direct costs of conflict, for instance human deaths, expenditure, destruction of land and physical infrastructure; as well as indirect costs that impact a society, for instance migration, humiliation, growth of extremism and lack of civil society.
The normative aims of peace studies are conflict transformation and conflict resolution through mechanisms such as peacekeeping, peace building (e.g., tackling disparities in rights, institutions and the distribution of world wealth) and peacemaking (e.g., mediation and conflict resolution). Peacekeeping falls under the aegis of negative peace, whereas efforts toward positive peace involve elements of peace building and peacemaking.
Discussion of Findings, Conclusion and Recommendation
5.1 Discussion of Findings
The study provided quantitative insights on the psychological effect of conflict/violence on women and children. Findings from the study shows that only women from 18years and above were used in the study and the highest percentage of the respondents (28.1%) were within the age range of 18-37 years, majority of the respondents (40.6%) were married, majority of the respondents (22.9%) had WAEC/NECO, majority of the respondents (21.4%) were HND/B.Sc. holders, also majority of the respondents (20.3%) were OND/NCE holders, majority of the respondents (12.0%) had FSLC, majority of the respondents (12.0%) were others specify which were M.Sc. and Ph.D. and lastly majority of the respondents (11.5%) had no formal education.
The findings also revealed that majority (41.1%) of the respondents indicated that all of the above (psychological/mental health problems, traumatic experiences, hinders women’s contribution to national development, violate women’s human) were the consequences of gender based violence. This is in line with (Heise 1999, WHO 2013) literature. . HIV infection as a result of sexual violence can cause AIDS and ultimately lead to death .For example, mental health problems resulting from trauma can lead to suicidality, or to conditions such as alcohol abuse or cardiovascular diseases that can in turn result in death. According to Madu (2013),women in Nigeria are relegated to the background where they will be seen but not heard because the patriarchal nature of the society accord them subordinate position as they are seen as inferior to men in gender power relation. Thus women are relegated to the background in political, economic and social sectors of the economy.
The study also showed that the highest proportion of respondents (41.7%) indicated that the major form of GBV in Nsukka L.G.A. was preference of male child. The preferential treatment given to male children in their family goes a long way informing their opinions and attitudes towards their sisters and women in general. Some of these advantages denied the females right to formal education, denial of eating certain foods, subjection to all kinds of family chores and so on. It has devastating health impacts on the women, as women are mostly controlled and dominated by their partners in a relationship and must never complain of sexual harassment and in the case of childlessness; the woman must accept it as her fault, (Nnadi,2012). GBV is practiced against everyone but it affects mainly women and girls and is carried out in all settings including work places, schools, families and communities. United Nations report (1995) affirmed that violence against women is a function of belief in all cultures that men are superior to their wives.
The findings further revealed that the greatest percentage of the respondents 80 (41.6%) perceive gender based violence as high. This is in line with Scherzer, 2004’s statement that a great number of women are generally abused probably because they are the weaker sex and coupled with the fact that it is the men that married the women and therefore they have the final decision when it comes to matter concerning the family. Nnadi, 2012 also revealed that gender based violence has devastating health impacts on the women, as women are mostly controlled and dominated by their partners in a relationship and must never complain of sexual harassment and in the case of childlessness; the woman must accept it as her fault. GBV is practiced against everyone but it affects mainly women and girls and is carried out in all settings including work places, schools, families and communities. This also corresponds with Odimegwu, 2001 Reports which revealed that the level of wife battery is shockingly high despite the fact that there is gross under reporting and improper documentation of this form of violence against women. The persuasiveness of wife battery/assault led to Gloria Egbuji, the Executive Director of Crime Victims Foundation, a non-profit crime victim’s outfit in Lagos, to call on the government to take urgent measures to stop the increasing cases of gender based violence in Nigeria. Egbuji made the call following the arrest of a middle aged man, Sylvester Emezi, by the police for allegedly inflicting injuries on his finance’s right eye with a sharp object which he pierced into her eye when they had quarrel over domestic issues. (Nnadi, 2012). Uzuegbu, 2011 also asserts here that the forceful act of carnal knowledge of a woman or girl by a man against her consent sometimes causes genital injury and bleeding which may directly lead to a girl or woman contracting HIV.
In order to reverse the negative trends of gender based violence and to improve the wellbeing of the women, to aid sustainable development in Nigeria, the researcher recommend that Nigeria government should make laws concerning gender based violence and they should also endeavour to review already made gender discriminatory laws that still exist on the pages of statutory books in order to demonstrate her total commitment to eradicate gender based violence. There is also need for enactment of gender based specific laws to curb violence against women. Our present laws on gender based issues have been criticized as grossly inadequate. For instance, the manner in which rape trials are conducted in Nigeria, coupled with the high degree of quantum of evidence required to secure convictions, exposes the already traumatized women/girls sexual victims to indignity, making it men’s trial but women’s tribulation.
Also, obnoxious practices that impede the rights of women should be uprooted. Nigerian Government should collaborate with traditional rulers and other stakeholders to ensure that all harmful traditional practices which target only women are uprooted. This could be advanced through dialoguing with the traditional rulers who are custodian of our culture; they should be made outlaw all oppressive practices in their domain. Gender right activists should extend advocacy and enlightenment programs on gender rights violation to grassroots because it has been observed that most Nigerian women were been socialized from infancy into believing that gender based violence is cultural and therefore normal. Human right activists should ensure that those who violate human rights like rape are adequately prosecuted in order to teach others their lesson.
There is also need to encourage victims of gender based violence to speak up. This is necessary because most victims are either ashamed or afraid of disclosing what happened to them because of government not responding to their complaint, fear of being hurt more by the abuser ,fear of social stigma attached to such abuse like rape and so on. This should be championed by social workers, and those in-charges of social welfare agencies. Also, it is advocated that establishment of more gender violation monitoring agencies be established by the Nigerian governments especially at the grass root level like Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State for an effective monitoring and reporting of gender rights violates against female gender in Nigeria. More so, since rape is revealed to be the commonest form of gender based violence in Nsukka L.G.A. of Enugu State, this calls for serious intervention of security agencies and others involved in safeguarding the lives of citizens in Nsukka L.G.A. This is to say that the public should recognize the role of social workers in their midst so that they will be able to help them make decisions on issues that affects them.
Nigerian government should as a matter of urgency, domesticate Convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and all other international instruments on women’s rights which she has ratified. The non-discriminatory provision of the Nigeria 1999 constitution is inadequate. The domestication of these international instruments is imperative in view of the fact that section 12 of the Nigerian constitution has expressly rendered these international instruments non-justifiable except they are domesticated as part of Nigerian municipal law. Domestication of CEDAW and all other such international instruments on gender rights will afford women activists in Nigeria stronger and wider platform to agitate for women’s rights.
General public enlightenment about the ills of gender based violence is necessary because an enlightened society is an informed one whose activities are reflective of the information at its disposal. The essence of public enlightenment should be facilitated by schools, churches, mosques, mass media, town union, age grade, social clinic etc. this is for people to see the account of what has been happening on this issue and how this very act has destabilize women and also let them know that it does not hold anything for us in the future.
The study was carried out to ascertain women’s views on gender based violence. This having been completed, the researcher concluded that some factors determine women’s views on gender based violence include poverty, illiteracy/ignorance, culture, alcohol, inadequate laws and systems, place of residence and even marital status.
From this study, it can be said that gender based violence is an age long problem that has been existing in Nsukka L.G.A. of Enugu State which has to be addressed. It is an obstacle to peace, progress and a threat to the objective of equality; they appear as traditions, customs and religious practices that lower the status accorded to women. Their implications are likely to hinder women’s participation in national development. The study also shows that illiteracy/ignorant and low socio-economic status are the leading cause of gender based violence. Gender based violence as it implies can lead to so many health problems like HIV/AIDS or STIs, and also hinders women’s participation in national development. Also, the study shows that most people are aware of the consequences of gender based violence. Gender based violence occurs in all societies of the world, within the home or in the wider community and it affects women and girls disproportionately.
The scourge of gender based violence if not properly handled will be difficult to curb or eradicate especially in the rural areas where the people so much believe in cultures and traditions. All the ill practices that treat women unfairly in the name of tradition should be put to an end for the betterment of the society. Men should also recognize the importance of their wives and therefore should resist battery or assault of any kind as this is not only unfair in the eyes of the society but also ungodly and uncalled for.
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