Oxfam Condemns the Dehumanization & Brutalization of Mrs. Amarachi Okechi and Demands Justice
Oxfam condemns the dehumanization and brutalization of a widow identified as Mrs. Amarachi Okechi of Umueghu in Amaegbuato autonomous community, in Nkpa Bende Local Government Area of Abia State, Nigeria
Mrs. Okechi had her hands tied behind her back, her feet tied together seating on the bare floor in a public space, and flogged in turns by the young men in the community said to be led by her brother-in-law, reportedly because her husband’s brother’s wife accused her of being a witch.
While the horrendous humiliation and assault were going on, bystanders cheered, jeered, and were seen filming the appalling spectacle.
"Sadly, it is a double jeopardy to be a woman and a widow in many communities in Nigeria where such women are accused of being the witches that caused their husbands’ death, get their hair forcefully cut, forced to drink the dirty and contaminated water used to wash their husbands’ corpses to prove their innocence, forced to wear black clothes with their shaved heads uncovered, forced to sit and sleep on bare floors, get sent out of their matrimonial homes with their underaged children, banished from participating in communal socio-economic activities, and get their husbands belongings forcefully taken away from them,” said Dr. Vincent Ahonsi, Country Director, Oxfam International.
"We are disturbed that such unfair, harmful, and dehumanizing traditional practices are still in existence, and in some communities tolerable, in a democratic Nigeria of 2022 with women and girls having their freedom and rights disrespected and abused” – said Dr. Ahonsi
Oxfam is committed to, and working purposively to ensure that Nigerian women and girls are able to realize their full and equal rights and potential, and be free from all forms of violence, and will collaborate with partners and government agencies to ensure that justice is served in Mrs. Amarachi Okechi’s case.
We will continue to work with relevant authorities, partners, stakeholders, and communities to challenge culturally accepted practices that treat women and girls as second-class citizens.