Domestic Violence; A Plague In Our Society

Domestic Violence; A Plague In Our Society

Domestic violence is becoming rampant by the day. In this write-up,  Yewande Omobomi talks more on the raging menace. There is no one single explanation or excuse for domestic violence. It is simply violence, abuse and intimidation between people who are currently or have previously been in an intimate relationship. This abuse can result to

Domestic violence is becoming rampant by the day. In this write-up,  Yewande Omobomi talks more on the raging menace.

There is no one single explanation or excuse for domestic violence. It is simply violence, abuse and intimidation between people who are currently or have previously been in an intimate relationship. This abuse can result to fear, physical and/or psychological harm. Thus, it is a violation of human rights.

According to the statistics from United Nations, 51 percent of African women justify their husband’s actions if they beat them for going out without permission, refusing them of their conjugal rights or trying to argue back. Men have also been victims of domestic violence in cases of infidelity.

Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, yet the problem is often overlooked, excused, denied, and treated with levity. It does not discriminate. It affects victims of any age, gender, or economic standing. Domestic violence can be physical, psychological or emotional.
It is emotional abuse if a man or woman is denied of his or her conjugal rights in a marriage. Another instance is when the companionship in a marriage is lost or communication is nowhere to be found.

Universally, the victims of domestic violence are vastly women and the experiences of domestic violence are of various forms. In some African countries, domestic violence is justified in cases of infidelity on the part of women. It is the most underreported criminal act in Africa as most women choose to endure the dehumanizing act because of lack of financial resources, fear, isolation, or to protect children.

There were cases of domestic violence in different parts of the Nigeria in 2017 and especially between January and September, a total of 852 of such cases were recorded in Lagos State alone.
Many Nigerians will not forget in haste the tragic story of an Airwoman, Solape Oladipupo, aka Shomzy Shomzy, killed by her lover, Airman Kalu Bernard in March. Kalu purportedly killed Oladipupo at her Corporal and Below Quarters, Compound 9, Air Force Base, Makurdi, Benue State having suspected that she was having a romantic affair with another man.

The Lagos State police arrested a bank worker, Mr. Olaoluwa Adejo, for killing his 28-year-old wife, Maureen at their home on Peluola Street, in the Bariga area of the state. The 32-year-old Lagos indigene was accused of beating his wife of five years with a belt, as well as injuring her with a machete.
The couple’s five-year-old son, Richard, who reportedly witnessed the violence, said his father also forced a local insecticide, ‘otapiapia’, down the throat of his mother. But the 83-year-old mother of the suspect, Florence Adejo, denied that her son murdered Maureen. She said her son came to her house on the night of the incident, fell on the ground and started weeping that his wife had destroyed him by consuming a local insecticide.

On November 18, grief gripped the family of a former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Haliru Bello. Bello’s son, Bilyamin, was allegedly stabbed to death by his wife, Maryam Sanda. Sanda is the daughter of embattled former Aso Savings Bank boss, Hajia Maimuna Aliyu.
The attack, it was gathered, resulted from an allegation of infidelity against Bilyamin by his wife after she saw a text message on his phone. According to reports, Maryam stabbed her husband in the neck and chest while he slept in the bedroom at their home in Maitama, Abuja. After stabbing him, she took him to the hospital where he gave up the ghost. The couple had a daughter together.

Two homes were thrown into mourning in the Gboko area of Benue State, and Oto-Awori area of Lagos State, on August 21, 2017. The two incidents happened same day.
In Gboko, the incident was one of a 33-year-old Joshua Terkaa-Uhir, who allegedly massacred his wife, Lucy, with an axe after accusing her of infidelity. Same day, a woman, Folashade Idoko, reportedly stabbed her husband, Lawrence, to death with a knife after the latter allegedly received a telephone call from a suspected female lover at their home in Ayetoro, Oto-Awori.

The two tragic occurrences resulted to several outburst on social media platforms. Joshua has since been declared wanted by the Benue State Police Command while Folashade has been arrested and detained by the Lagos State Police Command.

A look outside Nigeria reveals that cases of domestic violence has now become a bane in the African continent in general.
In December 1998, a Kenyan police officer, Felix Nthiwa Munayo returned home late and asked for meal from his wife; since there was none provided, he beat his wife, Betty Kavata, such that she suffered several injuries as well as brain damage. Ms. Kavata died five months after the incident, on her 28th birthday.

According to a research conducted by World Health Organisation (W.H.O), violence against women goes beyond beatings. It includes, forced marriage, marital rape, sexual harassment, intimidation at work and educational institutions, forced pregnancy, forced abortion, forced sterilization, trafficking, forced prostitution and dowry-related violence. If African countries can ensure that bills that protect women from domestic violence are passed into law, the rate of domestic violence will be drastically diminished in Africa.

A study on domestic violence in Uganda and many parts of the African continent by the US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) found that families justified forcing widows to be inherited by other males in the family. The argument is that the family had “all contributed to the bride price” and that therefore the woman was “family property.” After inheriting it, a widow lost her husband’s properties, which become the new husband’s. And if a woman decided to divorce or be separated, the dowry had to be refunded. Often, the study found, “a woman’s family is unable or unwilling” to refund the dowry, and her brothers may beat her to force her back to her husband or in-laws “because they don’t want to give back cows.”
It is not enough to put new laws on the books. Ms. Mary Wandia, a leading Kenyan gender advocate said law enforcement and court mechanisms also have to be made friendly and accessible to women. These laws should be enforced all the time. She said, “The police force is often uninterested in domestic violence. Unless a woman can show physical evidence of the violence she has suffered, police and law-enforcement authorities are often unwilling to believe and assist her.”

The Federal government of every African country should enact policies in place as to how the laws guiding against the practice of domestic violence in Africa will be adequately protected and perpetrators should get punished. The passage of the Violence Against Persons’ Prohibition (VAPP) Bill, which was passed by the Nigerian Senate on 5th May, 2015 and signed into law on 24th May, 2015, after 13 years conception at the National Assembly, is indeed a great development but may not be enough if there is no strict adherence to the provisions of the Bill.

Drama is also a very good strategy of creating awareness on the consequences of domestic violence.
A case study of a Nigerian Actress, Stephanie Okereke Linus shot a movie titled, “Dry”. This movie takes on child marriage in Nigeria. The movie tells the story of 13-year-old girl whose parents married her off to a 60-year-old man, with devastating consequences.

The plot of Dry is based on true story of child brides who have fistula, an abnormal or surgically made passage between a hollow or tubular organ and the body surface which leaves a hole between a woman’s vagina and her bladder or rectum—and often results from absent or inadequate reproductive health care during birth. Girls who are married as children are particularly at risk, because their bodies aren’t mature enough to bear children. Aside from its painful physical impacts, women and girls with fistula are often ostracised by their communities.

In this part of the world, religion plays a vital role in people’s lives. Religious institutions such as churches or mosques need to always have counseling unit in order to admonish people on the dangers of domestic violence. Both abusers and victims of domestic violence need psychological treatment by a psychologist and/or religious leaders separately or individually.

Counseling would establish the components that influenced the abuser to behave the way he does. It will identify if the abuser lacks self-control, whether the abuser is from an abusive home, whether the problem of the abuser is insecurity, inferiority complex or jealousy. It will also establish whether the issue is spiritual or anger related.
Both parties would be taught how to reduce tension as opposed to escalating a conflict. They would be taught how to walk away in the face of a disagreement etc, as opposed to being argumentative, harassing or constantly throwing insults to each other. This could escalate the situation as some provocation could influence a person to act violently.

The media is an agent of socialisation, which moulds the morals, views and opinions of the society. Thus, it needs to step in and begin the education process towards preventing and ending domestic violence and abuse in our society. Various programmes and activities can be put in place on perceptions and behavior related to various forms of violence, supporting advocacy, creating awareness and curbing the excesses of probable perpetrators.

Yewande Omobomi.

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