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This paper examines the different subjugating conditions that women are confronted with daily. These include domestic violence, sexual abuse, Female Genital Mutilation, child-brides, bride-burning, discrimination in religious institutions and work place and other harmful cultural practices that inhibit the personal development of women in the society. Nawal El Sadaawi‟s portraiture of this grim reality in Woman at Point Zero brings to fore the various phases of injustices and abuse that women grapple with in phallocentric societies. Set in Egypt, the novelist reveals the deep rooted cultural and religious beliefs which are actually barriers to the self actualization of the female. The story, a true life account of a woman awaiting execution on death row, corroboratesNgugi‟s assertion that “Literature does not grow or develop in a vacuum; it is given impetus, shape, direction and even area of concern by social and economic forces in a particular society” (XV). The various stages of a woman‟s life and the peculiar type of oppression of each stage as portrayed in the novel forms the subject of the next discussion.
Female oppression is a problem that still exists in present day society. The fact that we live in a modern world with monumental technological advancement has not changed the grim reality that women are discriminated against and suppressed because of the patriarchal molded structures. The cultural beliefs, traditions and religions of most societies give more attention to patriarchy thereby ensuring the continuation of the domination and repression of women. Any attempt by women to protest against the injustices and discrimination meted by the men folk is tantamount to challenging age long tradition and culture which is perceived to be a sacrilege. Therefore she is made to accept her subordinate and second class position hence leading to the violation of her human right. “To be a woman is a natural infirmity and every woman gets used to it. To be a man is an illusion, an act of violence that requires no justification(Henrietta and Nwodo, 1982) Hence women are therefore viewed as the passive sacrificial lamb, always ready to be sacrificed on the altar of man’s social, economic and political spheres of the society by making meaningful contribution to its development. In spite of these, a woman, especially in Africa, is only respected and regarded as fulfilled when she performs her traditional duties as a housewife, mother, homemaker and caregiver who is meant to be seen and not heard. Any other role contrary to these stereotypical roles is regarded as an affront to male authority and ego which results in violence, oppression and violation of women right. Based on this set back in this research focus on violation of the right of women in African novel. An examination of the case study of facelessAmmaDarko and women at point zero novel.
Statement of the problem
In Africa, procreation is the most common expectation governing marriage. A woman‘s ability to secure her marriage rests on her ability to give birth. The primacy of womanhood to African women has been elucidated by Oduyoye thus:
“Womanhoodis a highly valued role open only to women but desired by both men and women as well as the society as a whole; it is the channel by which men reproduce themselves and continue the family name and it is the channel by which women actualize their psycho-religious need to be the source of life. Often, procreation is described as if women are simply ―Objects of genetic and social transmission”.
Oduyoye‘s analysis of the primacy of motherhood to African women reveals some attempt at a comparative analysis as per the importance of childbirth to men and women. Whereas for men procreation constitutes a duty call since it is the channel by which men continue with the family name, for women, childbirth goes beyond ensuring survival of the human race. Women see in it their ability to procreate, their very essence—it is fulfilling since the birth of a child supposedly fills a vacuum in a woman‘s life. It does not bring only physical joy to the woman; it assures her that her ability to procreate makes her acceptable before God and man. Ann Oakley has argued that being a mother is held out as the primary feminine goal. She writes:
“Women hood settles women down and provides a focus for feelings of feminine responsibility. It is fulfilling – both of the social expectation and of the personal desire – though its capacity to satisfy the latter is not so great in reality as in anticipation (when babies are clothed in a mystique that red and squalling infants do not have).More than this, the very sentimentalization of womenhood is a problem for women in becoming and being mothers, since it poses the insoluble dilemma of tracing perfection in imperfect circumstances(Oakley, Ann,198:86)
As an important marker of female identity, womanhood to most Africans and especially most African women is considered the major role of the female. According to Sarpong, womanhood ―is the principal if not ultimate end of marriage.(Sarpong, 1974:69
According to John Gills (1996:174) womanhood is the sovereign means of female identity formation. Gills (1996:174) asserts, giving birth ceased to be something that happens to a woman and became the ultimate source of adult female identity formation( Gills 1996:174).
Gills‘s assertion points to a rather disturbing generalization which considers procreation as a duty for every woman. The woman who refuses to procreate or who, for one biological reason or the other, cannot procreate automatically comes under severe criticism for interrupting nature‘s original plan. Sarpong (1974:69) says:
“The greatest calamity to befall an African woman is to be barren.The idea that women occupy important spaces in society cannot be overemphasized. According to Naana Horne, ―Matrilineal kinship recognizes woman as the very source of intergenerational connectedness. Indeed, Darko‘s descent from a matrilineage explains partly the space she gives to motherhood in her novels. The attendant challenges mothers face in the political and the socio-economic domains of the woman nurturing the matrilineal kinship system of the Akans(in Ghana) . Furthermore, problems such as economic hardships, patriarchal and cultural demands, woman violation by men, domestic violenceagainst, as well as the irresponsible behaviour of some men have rendered many women voiceless in Africa to the extent that women who are mothers cannot mentor their children, especially not their daughters, to become mothers or to make their views heard in public. Womanhood, in Africa, is fraught with a myriad of problems and these problems have made motherhood a paradox—that which brings joy and reward whilst at the same time reducing the woman/mother to the level of an object conditioned to suffer shame and abuse. The received view that all mothers have automatic love for their children has been radically interrogated by world changing situations as well as African women writers. It is based on this problems that this study examines the violation of the right of women in Africa novel.
Objective of the study
The main objective of the study is to ascertain how African novels such as faceless and women at point zero portrayed the violation of women right in African novel. Specific objective is to examine:
The following research question will guide the study as follows:
Significance of the study
The study will be of benefit to all citizens of Africans countries in that it will enable them see the need of protecting and advocating for the freedom of women oppression as regard violation of their right. It will enable the male counterpart to fully understand some of thecrucial role which woman play in homes and society at large. Therefore, enabling the male to see the need of respectingand honour the women in the society.