Study Reveals Women Highly Vulnerable to Intimate Partner Violence
The results of a study undertaken by a team of scholars at the University of Pittsburg, USA, in an attempt to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, have highlighted significant vulnerabilities of women related to Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and other forms of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in Boko Haram settings. Boko Haram is a jihadist terrorist organisation based in northeastern Nigeria. It is also active in Chad, Niger and northern Cameroon.
A Consultant with The World Bank Group and an Assistant Professor of Economics, University of Pittsburg, Dr. Uche Ekhator-Mobayode, made this disclosure on Thursday, March 14, 2015 at the 2019 Seminar of the Centre for Economic Policy and Development Research (CEPDeR), in the Department of Economics and Development Studies of Covenant University.
She emphasised that the study was important, because responding to and preventing all forms of violence against women was increasingly recognised as both fundamental to assuring women’s rights and achieving the empowerment of women and girls and, to sustaining peace.
While making a presentation with the topic, ‘Armed Conflict and Intimate Partner Violence: Evidence from the Boko Haram Insurgency in Nigeria’, Dr. Ekhator-Mobayode, who was the Guest Speaker at the seminar and Lead Author of the study, said that forced displacement and violence associated with the Boko Haram insurgency, which started in 2009, had been widely reported to have exacerbated violence against women. According to her, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), had in 2017 estimated that 1.8 million people, mostly women and girls, in Northeastern Nigeria where Boko Haram attacks were most prevalent, needed protection from GBV.
The Guest Speaker acknowledged that given the definitions of GBV and IPV, both men and women could be victims as well as perpetrators, however, any form of GBV including IPV disproportionately affected women. “Globally, 35% of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence. 30% of all women who have been in a relationship have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner, according to a 2013 World Health Organisation report,” she said.
Conflict, she posited, translated to increased risk of violence perpetrated by an intimate partner because the pathway of GBV against women by conflict actors was intuitive. Citing instances, she said that the superior position of conflict actors may be used to exploit the vulnerability and maternal responsibilities of women, while rape and other forms of sexual violence could be used as a weapon of war to not only cause physical harm but to also destroy cultural and community life of victims.
Dr. Ekhator-Mobayode, who stated that previous research had found adverse effect of armed conflicts including civil war and the Boko Haram insurgency on various socio-economic outcomes, however noted that studies examining the effect of the Boko Haram insurgency on any form of GBV were sparse or nonexistent. “To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first attempt at providing a quantitative analysis of the effect of the Boko Haram insurgency on IPV in Nigeria,” she added.
To carry out the study, she said that her team had used data from the Nigerian Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) for 2008 and 2013, including data from ACLED, which collected information on a range of violent and non-violent actions by political agents including governments, rebels, militias, communal groups, political parties, external actors, rioters, protesters and civilians.
Dr. Ekhator-Mobayode further disclosed that the findings of her team’s study were consistent with findings from Uganda and Liberia, but her team’s results were interpreted as a lower bound of the average causal effect of the Boko Haram insurgency on IPV for two reasons. “First, there are significant barriers which disincentives reporting of IPV. In most rural areas in Nigeria, involving law enforcement in family matters can be considered a taboo while in urban areas women may refrain from reporting to prevent stigmatisation and/or protect the honor of their family. Second, our analysis excludes the most intense areas of Boko Haram activity because NDHS interviewers could not reach those areas,” she explained.
Earlier in his welcome remarks, the Head, Department of Economics and Development Studies, Dr. Dominic Azuh, while appreciating the visit of the Guest Speaker, said that the implications of the Boko Haram war on the Nigerian economy were well documented. He enjoined students of the Department including faculty and staff to make sure they take away tangible lessons from the important topic.
Prominent among the personalities at the occasion were the Dean, College of Business and Social Sciences, Professor Philip Alege, Professor Gbolahan Oni and the Chairman of CEPDeR, Professor Evans Osabuohien amongst others.