Domestic Violence Must Stop!
Domestic violence is a problem as in many parts of Africa. There is a deep cultural belief in Nigeria that it is socially acceptable to hit a woman to discipline a spouse. The CLEEN Foundation survey also found a nationwide increase in domestic violence in the past years from 21% in 2011 to 30% in 2013.
Domestic violence takes many forms including physical, sexual, emotional, and mental. Traditionally, domestic violence is committed against females. Common forms of violence against women in Nigeria are rape, acid attacks, molestation, wife beating, and corporal punishment.
The Yoruba women refer to their husbands as “olowo ori mi” meaning he who owns me. In effect, marriage gives up a woman's right to herself. In practices where a bride price is paid, it is common for the husband to believe that by paying the bride price, he now owns his wife. The act of marriage is seen to give the husband full ownership of the woman. She surrenders her right to her body to him totally.
Sexual violence in Nigeria largely goes unreported because of the burden of proof necessary for conviction as well as the social stigma it brings. About 25% of women reported forced sex at the hands of either their current partner or a former partner.
Furthermore, the 2008 Demographic and Health Survey showed that over 30.5% of married women have experienced at least one or more forms of physical, emotional or sexual violence in their marriage.
Another form of violence which has received a lot of attention in Nigeria is acid baths. Acid baths are actions of violence where the perpetrator throws acid onto his or her victim’s body, resulting in disfigurement and possible loss of eyesight. In 1990, a former beauty queen rejected her boyfriend's attempts to rekindle their relationship. In retaliation, he threw acid in her face with the words "let me see how any man will love you now".
Relationship inequality is also a strong indicator of physical violence. High levels of wife beating occur when the woman is making more money than her husband or partner is. This has been attributed to the lack of control the male partner feels within the relationship.
Another cause of domestic violence is infertility. When looking at a study taken by infertile woman visiting a fertility clinic, many women reported some form of domestic violence- whether physical, mental, or emotional.
Domestic violence is a serious social concern. It is also a violation of fundamental human rights. It has severe adverse impacts on physical and psychological health. Fatalities occur frequently in domestic violence in Nigeria. We have seen an increase in the number of women killed by their spouses in the last few months. This is very worrisome.
There are also negative consequences which most times reflect in the lives of children who grow up in domestic violence situations. These include grave distrust in intimate relationships and a repeat of abusive patterns, with some offspring becoming abusive themselves or becoming predisposed to being abused, thus perpetuating a vicious cycle of abuse.
Women often face physical violence at the hands of their family members. The most common forms of physical violence include rape, murder, slapping, and kicking. Some of the reasons that were given for physical abuse include their husbands being drunk, financial issues, and the rejection of a partner’s sexual advances.
Women experiencing domestic violence have varying responses and differences in who they report their abuse to. In a study done in Ilorin, Nigeria, a large number of women reported their abuse to family and friends while not many decided to go to the police to file a report. The rationale behind not going to the police is various such as the fear of victim-blaming, acceptance of violence as proper reaction, and the lack of police action.
One main reason for the high levels of under-reporting are that it is seen as taboo to involve the police in family matters. They view the separation of the two as important and the police force ascribes to this notion as well. Police hesitate to intervene even with lodged complaints unless the abuse goes over the customary amount usually seen in the region.
Must we become like beasts in trying to assert our manliness? Yes, some men are victims of domestic violence, but we know the ratio is higher among women.
Domestic Violence Must Stop!
Photo credits: Science Photo Lab, Howafrica.com
Keep on keeping on! »
Jackie Appiah »