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Women in southern Kaduna recently marched in protest against the Nigerian government. They were protesting against the government for failing to respond to deadly violence in the region. When they marched, some of them used a controversial tactic. While some of the women marched dressed in black, to express sadness, others marched naked. This was intended to shock and shame the government into action, signalling their desperation by turning to this as a last resort. In doing so, they defied customs surrounding the female body and showed how cultural attitudes towards the female body can be used to empower women.
Protests took place in July, in southern Kaduna. This is in the middle belt region of Nigeria. The region has recently suffered from the violence of bandits, who have reportedly killed around 200 people this year alone. The protests were against the Nigerian government. The people of southern Kaduna feel that their suffering is being ignored by the government, despite multiple requests for them to take action. As a result, some of the women resorted to marching naked through the streets.
Why was it so controversial?
Many men and women within southern Kaduna, and throughout Nigeria, believe that the exposure of the female body is shameful. This is due to a variety of cultural and religious reasons. The roles of men and women in society are very defined. Women are expected to cover their bodies and obey the commands of men. By marching naked, the brave women of southern Kaduna were defying these expectations. This made their actions controversial.
Why did they do it?
The women wanted their government to feel ashamed for failing to prevent violence within the region. Due to cultural expectations, their nakedness could be used to shame onlookers. It signalled their desperation; they had been forced to use their last resort. This made it an effective tactic. The women were no longer shamed for their nakedness. Instead, the government was shamed for its failings.
Empowerment of the Female Body
Some people in Nigeria, and throughout the world, see the female body as belonging to men. By choosing to use their bodies in protest, the women who marched showed the world that they owned their own bodies. No one could stop them, and their actions made others pay attention to the violence their people still face today. In this way, the women of southern Kaduna showed that they are empowered.