Case 37

Violence at school in Nigeria


  1. Sexual violence of the girl child can occur at school and at any age
  2. Sometimes females are the perpetrators of such violence

Narrative Case

A three year old girl was sexually abused by her female teacher [1]. During break time at school, the female teacher took the girl to a hidden place [2], gave her sweets and biscuits as a bribe for her not to tell anyone and inserted her finger and pencil into the girl’s vagina [3].

The girl’s mother noticed when bathing her daughter that the vagina was tender. Though surprised, she asked her daughter if she has been touched by anyone there; the girl refused to talk initially but later told her mother what the female teacher had been doing.  

Learning Points

[1] Children can be abused by anyone, even female teachers and caregivers. However, the majority of perpetrators are still male (the proportion is about 1 to 20).

[2] School buildings and premises should be designed in such a way that there are no hidden corners or rooms for any form of immoral acts and/or sexual harassment.

[3] Most of the time sexual harassment of children is done by people that are well known to the child and who are responsible for looking after them. Giving a reward such as sweets or biscuits make the perpetrators feel better and believe they have compensated the child.

Sexual harassment of children can lead to long term bad memories. It can result in feelings of guilt and the loss of trust. Some victims can develop a post traumatic stress disorder or other problems for which psychological therapy might be necessary.

Further information:

“School-related gender-based violence” is a common problem in schools not only in Africa but worldwide. It is estimated that each year between 500 million and 1.5 billion children become the victim of this kind of violence. The case study clearly demonstrates that young age does not protect the child. The UN reported that nearly 50% of all sexual assaults are committed against girls younger than 16 years.

References: (8/27/2014) (8/27/2014)

Case 23

Intimate partner violence in Nigeria


  1. Intimate partner violence can lead to any form even life threatening injuries


Narrative case

A twenty-two year old single woman had a child out of wedlock and was living with her parents. One day she went to visit the father of her child; he inflicted an injury on her vulva with a sharp object. The girl did not tell anyone though her mother noticed that her gait had changed. She collapsed at home in a pool of blood.

She was immediately taken to hospital and transfused with one unit of whole blood, as blood products were not available at the centre. A detailed history obtained at this point revealed that she was beaten up by the father of her child who also inflicted an injury on her four days prior to presentation. She did not tell her parents about the injury but her mother noticed she has been sad and unable to walk properly. Her mother inquired if there was any problem and she did not receive any reasonable answer.

She is a single mother resulting from an unwanted pregnancy while she was a teenager and she is not married to the man. She decided to have the baby although the father of the child wanted an abortion. She visits the man while she and her child reside with her parents. Her parents are responsible for her upkeep and that of her child. She was discharged home on the four days later and her father paid her hospital bills.


Learning points:

  1. Sometimes much probing has to be done as most women who experience violence from an intimate partner conceal it especially in developing countries for fear of loss of the partner.
  2. Cultural norms and beliefs may play a role in intimate partner violence as some cultures see violence of a woman by her husband as a result of disobedience on the part of the woman. Therefore the women might feel guilty and do not want to tell anyone about the incident because they might fear further punishment.
  3. There should be a high index of suspicion of intimate partner violence in any woman presenting with injuries in the external female genitalia not caused by delivery, and accidents.

Case 4

Acid attack on B.U. and her two sisters from Ebonyi State, Nigeria


  1. To show the level of impunity regarding acid attacks on women in Nigeria

B.U.’s Story: Self narrative has been summarized

I was a 26 year-old patent medicine vendor based in a town in Ebonyi State. There was Isusu [1] (Thrift Contribution) among some business men and women in the town which I joined. We contributed N10,000 (Ten thousand Naira) every month. After some months, it was my turn to receive the sum of N150,000 (in August 2006). I kept N135,000 in my house planning  to use if to replenish my stock the following day.

Later that day, a customer called me from the bedroom to come and give treatment to his sick mother. I left my bedroom and crossed over to the shop to attend to the customer. I returned to the room only to find out that the N135,000 was no longer there. It had been stolen. On enquiry, one woman told me that she saw a young man named N” coming out from the back door of my room. When I confronted him about the missing money, he denied any knowledge. “N” is an electrician from the same state. He is my neighbour at work. When I arrived in the town to start the business, he had asked me to be his girlfriend which I turned down. That notwithstanding, we were still greeting each other.

Not knowing what else to do, I travelled to my village and informed my parents about the stolen money. They came back with meN” to swear an oath before a well-known shrine in the village to prove his innocence, which he refused. When he found out that my parents were bent on taking him to the shrine, he then admitted stealing my N135,000. As is customary in the area, his hands and feet were tied and disgraced publicly as a thief. His relations were invited and oral agreement was reached that the entire money would be paid back to me in instalments. I accepted this agreement as I had no choice.

A few days later, at about 3-4 a.m, I heard a knock on my door. It wasNs” voice claiming he was saying that he had come to return some of the money. I was reluctant to open the door at that time of the night, but my youngest sister (F.U.) who was visiting, urged me to open the door and receive the money no matter how small instead of allowing him to go back with it.

By then, my kid sister [2] with whom I live in Akwunakwuna had woken up and joined us at the door. As I opened the door, I felt very hot liquid and burning sensation on my face and I cried out to neighbours for help, shouting that hot water had been poured on me. At the same time my two siblings were shouting as the same liquid was also poured on them.

My two sisters and I, F.U., now 24 years old and O. U. now 12 years old were rushed (unconscious) to the Teaching Hospital where we spent the first 7 months on intensive treatment. Only part of our hospital bills of N450,000 were paid for by my parents through the sale of my father’s parcels of land.

The hospital management detained us in the hospital for months because our bills were not paid. In all, we spent a total of 20 months in the hospital.

Throughout our stay in the hospital, no relation ofN” came to the hospital to see us nor our parents to sympathize with them till date.N” has not returned the stolen money either. We later heard thatN” was arrested, detained and released later by the police. Presently, I am hearing thatN” is going round our village boasting that since I was the cause of his disgrace, he would kill me and kill himself any day he set eyes on me [3].

Since the incident in 2006, I have not gone to the village to see my mother. I am told that my mother is so broken hearted that she cannot bear to see me this way and that she now behaves abnormally [4].



Blessing lost her left ear and requires another operation on her left eye if she is to retain vision. There are no hairs on the part of her left scalp which was burnt .[5]


Learning Points

[1] The story shows clearly efforts at self-empowerment by B. U. through the local thrift system used as a savings scheme called Isusu (1).

[2] The system of distributive wealth is shown through the fact that B.U was supporting her younger sister, who lived with her

[3] The aspect of the level of impunity is evident through the fact that the perpetrator is still walking around free in the community.

[4] The impact of violence on close family members is often ignored. In this case not only B.U.’s two sisters were injured, but the incident still affects her mother psychologically.


Background information (2)

Acid throwing, also called an acid attack, a vit attack or vitriolage, is a form of violent assault defined as the act of throwing acid or a similarly corrosive substance onto the body of another with the intention to disfigure, maim, torture, or kill. Perpetrators of these attacks throw acid at their victims, usually at their faces, burning them, and damaging skin tissue, often exposing and sometimes dissolving the bones. The most common types of acid used in these attacks are sulfuric and nitric acid. The long term consequences of these attacks may include blindness, as well as permanent scarring of the face and body, along with far-reaching social, psychological, and economic difficulties.



(1) Isusu: Women Entrepreneurship and Development: The Gendering of Microfinance in Nigeria : (accessed 22 th of November 2014).

(2) . According to wikipedia. ( (accessed 22 th of November 2014).

(3) Nigeria: Curbing Incessant Acid Attacks
(accessed 22 th of November 2014).


Case 1

Professional and ethics related violence 


  1.    To show how professional women (for example doctors and teachers) in Afghanistan and their families can be targeted because they work with victims of abuse.



Dr. C. works as a gynaecologist in Afghanistan, providing healthcare to women suffering from abuse, including rape and domestic violence.

Her problems began when she was working in a clinic carrying out abortions on girls who had become pregnant after being raped by a male relative. These girls had to have an abortion or they would have been killed by their relatives or members of their community (an “honour” killing). Dr C. received threatening letters and phone calls from the Taliban, warning that she and her family would be killed because of her work.

Two years later, one evening she heard an explosion and rushed outside. Her children had been playing in the front yard. Her 11-year-old son was lying on the ground, very badly wounded.

He required medical treatment for almost a year, moving from hospital to hospital. Fortunately he was admitted to an army hospital at an American airbase. After surgery, he was left disabled with one leg shorter than the other. The incident affected him badly. He became mentally ill. He is now bullied at school and can no longer fulfil his lifelong dream of becoming a footballer. He is always tired and depressed. But sometimes he says with a smile: ‘Mum, it is good that I became the victim of a Taliban attack, otherwise I would have been without my mum now and you would have been the victim.‟


Six months later, her 22-year old brother was killed in a grenade attack in front of her house. The threats to her family were reported to the government, but nobody listened. Dr C. realised that further incidents were inevitable. She decided that her family had to move. She has now stopped doing abortions and keeps a low profile at work. Nobody knows her address. She is doing her best to make victims of violence aware of their human rights.


‘When they listen to my story of how I have lost my brother and how my son became disabled as a result of my struggle for womens human rights they get more courage to stand up and defend their rights’.


‘The situation here is very bad for women. Women have problems going out to work and girls are prevented from going to school. There are too many cases of violence against women. I have witnessed 30 to 50 cases in a month. When I tell [the women] to report their case to the police they refuse because their family would be ashamed of them and would treat them very badly. They don‟t go to the police and they tolerate the violence and harassment.

We have to help our people, particularly women, they need us and we have to serve the country and the people. I can‟t sit at home and do nothing, this is not in my nature.

Though I understand and have witnessed that there is great danger to my life in every step as a woman human rights advocate, I also understand that we cannot reach our goals and make a difference without accepting this risk to our own lives. Therefore my final goal is that all Afghan women become united to defend their human rights and know that a woman must be treated by men or her husband as a wife, as a mother and as a human’.

Learning points

  1. In some countries such as Afghanistan, violence against women and girls is accepted as part of the culture. Honour killings are not uncommon, and women can be stoned to death because of ‘adultery’ (the women are actually victims of sexual violence and are then blamed).
  2. Education and empowerment of women, and education of men and boys that violence against women is wrong, are important first steps.
  3. There must be a change in the culture towards gender equality – the government must take responsibility, and police must take action to protect women when violence is uncovered.
  4. Professionals who deal with victims of violence must be listened to and protected.