5% of Nigerian women physically abused in pregnancy —Expert

An expert in reproductive health, Dr Iyabode Olusanmi has called on women doctors to contribute to the reduction of gender based violence, saying that five per cent of Nigerian women experience physical violence while pregnant.

Olusanmi spoke on Gender Based Violence (GBV) at the general meeting of the Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria (MWAN) Oyo State branch in Ibadan.

The medical expert, describing gender based violence as the most widespread but least recognised human right abuses in the world, declared that recent efforts to deal with its root causes and improve reporting was still a long way to go.

She declared that in Nigeria, nearly three in 10 have experienced violence since the age of 15 and seven per cent has experienced sexual violence.

According to her, “the report on gender based violence in the media was a tip of the iceberg. World over, one in three women have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. Overall, five per cent of Nigerian women said that they have been subjected to physical violence while pregnant. “

Although gender based violence sometimes occur due to differences in power between males and females that are rooted in cultural norms, she said that it sometimes take sexual, psychological, physical and socio-cultural forms.

“Sexual, physical and psychological forms of violence accounts for 36 per cent of all violence in the community especially among women,” she declared.

The medical expert, while describing female genital mutilation also as a form of gender based violence, said such these forms of violence were also a contributory factor to Nigeria’s HIV prevalence of 3.2 per cent.

She said: “Rape, unwanted sex and risky sexual behaviour contributes to 3.2 per cent prevalence of HIV /AIDS in Nigeria. The fear of violence hinders women’s ability to use condoms and keep them from voluntary HIV/AIDS counselling and testing.

“Aside that women may be at risk of violence after disclosing their HIV status to their partner, cultural norms do not permit a wife to refuse her husband sex.”

Even though consequences of gender based violence could be both fatal and nonfatal, she said as far back as 2012, South Africa’s lost between 0.9 and 1.3 per cent of its GDP to gender based violence.

Therefore, she urged the medical women to be on the lookout for victims and signs of abuse as well as provide support to women and children suspected to have been abused.

While urging them to also develop their skills to offer sympathetic listening, be non-judgemental in attitude and avoid wrong counselling, she asked that the problem should be addressed through community dialogues and orientation for men and women.