The girls, known as the Chibok girls became a symbol of violence against women in Nigeria. Six years have passed but violence against women is still very rife.
On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, photographer Etinosa Yvonne puts a spotlight on these female victims of violence.
”It was like writing down what they were going through and how it affected their mental health. They don’t understand what they’re going through, they know they’re getting psychological help. But because they can’t contextualize it, they’re going through what they’re going through and they’re trying to understand what’s happening on a day-to-day basis. The problems of self-esteem are very present and I have noticed that many of them don’t have confidence in themselves and this prevents them from trying anything, from trying to get out of this situation they find themselves in”, she said.
Mental health problems is still taboo in society. But recently, the activism of a younger segment of the population has brought the issue to the fore.
”Because it’s a taboo subject and people who have problems are told “oh you’re crazy, you have to go to church or you have to go to an imam to get prayers”. There has never been a need to sit down and discuss it. So they might stop saying that, but since it’s a taboo subject they have to keep it (mental health) to themselves”, the photographer added.
For the photographer, society needs to question the way it works and especially how both sexes are viewed.
”So, it will take a lot of education for us to be accommodating and to first be emphatic towards these people. I think that as a society there needs to be a lot of unlearning…the glorification of men, and the objectification of women also needs to end. Because we have a society in which women are seen only as objects of sexual desire, of housekeeping. All these horrible opinions have to stop. It’s hard for people to say, “Okay, it’s happening, it’s wrong and needs to stop”, Yvonne said.
But we have to make sure that both boys and men are part of a fairer world for the women of tomorrow.