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Report bars menstruating women from cooking, others from eating gizzards

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By Gabriel Chy Alonta

A research report has uncovered that women in Anambra state are prohibited from eating gizzards, including cooking or serving food to their male counterparts while menstruating. The study, entitled, ‘Assessing the Rights of Women and Girls in Anambra State’, also disclosed that most communities in the state forbade married women from practising any religion or reporting family issues to the police station without the consent of their husbands or the husbands’ family (if demised).

The report was presented by Barr. Uju Okeke at a consultative meeting with traditional gate keepers and duty bearers in Anambra state on “ensuring the elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) and the Operationalisation of the State of Emergency on SGBV declared by the Nigerian Governors Forum.”

The event was organised in Awka, the Anambra state capital, by the Women Aid Collective (WACOL), with sponsorship from Ford Foundation. Okeke, who said the research was conducted across nine communities in nine local government areas within the three senatorial zones of the state between December 1 to 20, 2020, explained that the research participants administered with questionnaires, interviews, to people who had experienced or were part of the norms and practices.

She added that the research also uncovered other norms and practices perpetuating sex stereotypes and gender inequalities in Anambra state. Communities covered were Ukpo in Dunukofia local government area, Nawfia in Njikoka local government area, Nnobi (Idemili South local government area, Nise Awka South local government area and Onitsha in Onitsha North. Others were Nteje in Oyi local government area, Umumbo (Ayamelum local government area, Nnewi in Nnewi North and Owerre-Ezukala in Orumba South local government area.

In another presentation, ‘How VAWG results to underdevelopment in our local communities,’ Prof. Ogugua Ikpeze of the Faculty of Law, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, implored the Igbo nation to shun all cultural practices undermining the rights of women in the society, due to their overall negative impact.

Ikpeze, while listing some causes of violence against women to include poverty, ignorance, illiteracy, get rich syndrome, patriarchy, greedy, environment and customary practices, charged men to have a rethink or face prosecution in line with the extant laws of the state like Widowhood and Widowerhood Prohibition Law (2005), Child Rights Law (2004), Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law (2017), and Administration of Criminal Justice (ACJ) law (2010).

One of the participants and traditional ruler of Akwaeze, Anaocha local government area, Igwe Christopher Okpala, commended WACOL for the programme, assuring that the traditional institutions would never relent in promoting women participation and advancement. 

Earlier, the founder of WACOL, Prof. Joy Ezeilo, represented by Ms Ijoma Uzoeshi, programme manager, WACOL, hinted that the project was aimed at transforming traditional institutions, advance women’s rights campaign to eliminate discrimination and violence against women and girls, and improve access to justice by enhancing women’s capacity to engage traditional and cultural leaders.

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