Author: Amaka Azuike
Publisher: Parresia Publishers
Reviewer: Dickson Salami Adama
The book, ‘Violated,’ is needed in these times when domestic, sexual and gender-based violence is on the increase. In effect, the themes and intended messages of the book undoubtedly gives a formidable voice to the voiceless, the oppressed and the downtrodden.
Azuike in this book lends her voice to the rising global voices against the aforementioned oppressions and more in which the female gender are often at the receiving end and are equally, more often than not, the victims.
Unfortunately, some male folks have become obsessed, consciously or unconsciously, with the maxim that ‘It is a man’s world’ to behave in a given manner. They have perpetuated many ills against their female counterparts whether as husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, father and daughter, boss and staff, among other relationships.
But the female folk have picked up over the years and have intensified their rhythm with increasing regularity to challenge the hitherto status quo and their overall position in the society. So, the women have become more assertive of their rights globally, beginning mostly from the feminist movements where their issue got a special agenda in the media world following the United Nation’s proclamation of 1975 as International Women’s Year.
Also, many nations of the world came together in 2000 at a special session of the United Nations General Assembly in Beijing China and reaffirmed their commitment to gender equality and development, as contained in the Beijing Declaration of the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995.
Nigerian women are not an exception in the movement. Several women from various strata and fields began campaigning for women’s development/empowerment. On a broader scope in the advocacy, the campaigners began agitating for outright gender equality.
Nonetheless, no quest for gender superiority should give room for molestation/intimidation, blackmail, unruly behaviour, violence against anyone, sexual harassment/abuse, etc. It is all about striking a meaningful balance, while everyone should be accorded the needed respect and allowed to enjoy the fundamental rights due to him/her.
That is exactly what Azuike has attempted to explain in ‘Violated’. Though the stories in the book are fictionalized, they have palpable real-life appeal. Hence, the book isn’t just borne out of the figment of the writer’s imagination or just someone trying to authoritatively display her writing prowess. This book which is a collection of 10 short stories touches a sensitive cord and beams a searchlight on events that have eaten deep into the fabrics of the society.
‘Violated’ is dedicated to the late 13-year-old girl, Ochanya Elizabeth Ogbanje, and all the victims of the long years of Jos crises, among which are those still seeking justice. Many scenarios in the stories reflect the spate of sad happenings which preceded deadly crises that claimed many lives and properties, before peace was gradually restored. Prominent among the affected victims of the crises were women and children, who were affected physically, mentally, psychologically and otherwise. This angle was well reflected in the stories.
Regarding Ochanya’s (true life) story, it was that she died after suffering from Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) and other health challenges, following years of sexual molestation by her aunt’s husband and son, Andrew Ogbuja and Victor Ogbuja respectively. The molestation allegedly began when Ochanya was only eight years old.
Similar to Ochanya’s is the titular story, ‘Violated,’ where Isioma’s father sexually abuses her since she was 10 years old, after her mother left her matrimonial home over consistent quarrels with the father over his infidelity.
Isioma’s father promised to ruthlessly deal with her should she tell anyone. But she couldn’t bear it any longer and decided to tell her friend who took her to a superb lawyer, Olanna, who charged the matter to court. Isioma’s father also got a skilful lawyer who argued that he (the father) was only taking good care of her in the absence of her mother, and that the accusation against him was a malicious fallacy.
Another heart-breaking story is that of Roli who was impregnated by her step-father, Gabriel. This was unknown to her mother. Worse still, the step-father kept victimizing her and eventually accused her of waywardness. This led to Roli leaving the house and the worst happened to her when she could not pay her rent and the landlord raped her, saying that the intercourse can replace it.
Interestingly, Olanna featured in other stories in the book and defended women’s rights as well as other abuses, violence and molestations. Incidentally, she was also a victim of lack of proper parental care, and she lost her mother during her own birth. Worse still, her father was burnt to death in her presence during a crisis in Jos.
Olanna continued her good work of defending women suffering from one form of violation or the other until she was also caught up in an adulterous act with one of her client’s husbands, James.
By and large, the author has shown that she is a dynamic writer. The book is well written, well edited and well published, with a minuscule error in syntaxes or spellings. Probably, the author has a preference for short story collection, otherwise the stories could have fit into a full-length prose work.