The Lesser Discussed Horror of Brothers Harming Sisters

When I think of early 2021, two major things come to my mind. The first one being moving away from my uncle’s house in Yaba to a hostel to complete my journalism internship. 

The second one was doing a social media detox that saw me going to the library in Herbert Macaulay to write and deeply reflect on issues like feminism, financial independence and personal development.

When I was living in that very first hostel, I was exposed to girls who came from backgrounds different to mine and had experiences that in equal parts encouraged and infuriated my feminism.

There was one girl who explained that her brother severely controlled her movements and that she had to report where she went and who she was with to him. 

I cannot remember her name but I remember her saying that her brother had stopped her from going to events just because he wanted to.

I cannot adequately remember if she said that he also watched where he went out of “safety” but I do know that there was no mention of his actions and sex life policed by any elder in her family.

And why is that? This is a girl that was above eighteen and no one would have policed her that much if she was a boy. Even more, some older sisters are given a lot more rules than their brothers. Some elder sisters may even be told to pick up, serve food and clean after the boys in their families.

In discussions about domestic violence, the image that often comes up is a man beating his wife. While it is commendable to speak on the harm women encounter in marriage, we must also remember that the domestic space is also home to male and female children. 

We must also remember that due to living in a sexist woman hating world, male children can imbibe violent and rapey behaviours that they can take out on their sisters.

Asides policing the whereabouts of their sisters, male children can also work against the ability of their sisters to adequately inherit property. They can resort to violence should their sisters decide to take what belongs to them.

Where are the conversations on how male children can also beat and rape their sisters especially if they feel she is “growing wings?” Where are the podcasts discussing how male children can be sexually active but subject their sisters to the violation of a virginity test should she also explore her sexuality? Where are the conversations?

Speaking with E, she explained that she has experienced disrespect from her brothers. In her words: “In my own case, it’s not brother-sister violence but there have been two instances where my younger brother disrespected me and my parents allowed it.

First, he called me a coward in a voice note he sent to me just because I tried to establish the fact that I didn’t want to move back home after NYSC. He insulted me so much that you could hear/feel how vile he was towards me. Guess what? My mum didn’t see a problem with it. She wasn’t even bothered. When I was ready and when I saw him face to face, I insulted him back.”

She continued by saying: “Second instance was last month during Christmas. I wanted to pick a plastic chair from my parents house and bring it to my house in Ibadan. So I just jokingly told my mum about it. She now said: ‘Don’t let your brother hear’. As per, he will beat me or he will tell me not to carry the chair. Mtcheww. It was too hilarious 😂🤣

I didn’t bother to even do anything. Goodluck to him and the chair.”

For she says that her father disciplined her brother when he acted violent towards her. To quote her: “I don’t know if this qualifies enough as physical violence, but I can only remember one time.

One time, my brother slapped me because I refused to sweep the living room. My dad came back, heard what he did and called policemen to come and pick him up.

He slept in a prison cell that night and he never tried hitting me or any of my sisters again.”

When asked to share her thoughts, Jennifer, a Russian based Nigerian writer shared a story of growing up with a neighbour who beat his sister.

In her words: “I saw something like this when my family lived in Enugu. The flat opposite ours, this guy was always beating his sister up whenever she went out with a guy or stayed out late. It was so bad and she always sustained injuries.

For context, she was not underaged or anything. It was a full blown case of abuse because it always made everyone gather.

People often ignore this brother/sister abuse and I honestly don’t know why. I think the root of this type of abuse is raising boys to think they are authority figures.

This gives them the audacity to police not just their sisters, even their mothers in some cases. 

It’s really parents that enable this behaviour.”

Brother on sister violence is something that often leads to women swallowing their voices when in relationships as older women.

The home is said to be the smallest unit of society and it must be unacceptable for women to expect to receive violence, have it overlooked and then told that the home is a safe space for all.

Recent Articles

Related Articles