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October 2017
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Domestic Violence: What is the fate of Nigerian women?

Domestic Violence: What is the fate of Nigerian women?

Somebody help me! Sounds of kicks and blows! I hate you, I regret ever meeting and marrying you! You are so heartless and cruel, Stella screamed. I regret ever marrying you too…..blows, screams, you are nothing but a piece of rag yells Daniel as he continues hitting his wife… Then follows an unusual silence from Stella with blood gushing out from her right eye as Daniel’s fist landed on her face…

The short instance above describes the ordeal Nigerian women face in their matrimonial homes lately. Domestic violence against women as defined by the United Nations (UN) is the “act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual of liberty, or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation whether occurring in public or in private life”. In order to fully grasp what domestic violence is, we need to understand why it often happens or why it is on the rise nowadays.
Many women today in Nigeria strive to break the cultural and religious barriers that confine them to their houses. For instance from the context of marriage, it is worth mentioning that women are beginning to become breadwinners in most houses. Thus, many men are beginning to feel threatened as a result becoming extremely jealous of their spouses and developing low self-esteem to the extent of beating their wives with no just cause. But whose fault is it anyway that these men prefer to have a lackadaisical attitude towards the welfare of their families? As far as I am concerned the men are the cause of their predicaments, unfortunately they end up beating their wives as a way of dealing with their frustrations. The question that keeps coming up is why are women so afraid to speak up?

The context of marriage in Nigeria to women has always been about endurance, respect, and other related aspects that surround marriage life. Women have been trained to learn to be patient in their homes regardless of whatever troubles they may be facing, because a woman without a husband is considered a failure and disappointment to her family. Contrary to what Wm Paul Young proposes submission in marriage to be as “relationships of love and power”, most Nigerian marriages are centered on “authority and obedience”. Therefore, as a result of the aforementioned the victims find it very difficult to seek for help outside. There is this dominant fear of marriage jeopardy that the women have, hence they would rather endure than voice out their problems. Furthermore, most a times they keep mute until the situation leads to terrible consequences such as miscarriages, wounded bodies and the worst of them all death. This also leads to the fact that there is inadequate statistics on domestic violence in Nigeria, as a result of the silence and humiliation surrounding it. Although another big issue that is hindering women from speaking up is that most people do not consider beating spouse as domestic violence. This is because it is believed that beating your wife is some sort of training the woman to be respectful and humble as the man desires.
Subsequently, unlike developed countries such as United Kingdom and USA where there are laws that serve as defense for victims of domestic violence, Nigeria has no such effective laws. This is because the few ones existing have not been properly implemented, and therefore one hardly sees their impact when the need arises. Hence, the victimized women lack who to run to for help, most a times that is why they prefer keeping quiet. How then can these women be brave amidst all these? As the popular songstress Beyoncé says “we need to reshape our own perception of how we view ourselves. We have to step up as women and take the lead.” Women need to come out of their hiding and speak up, seek for help irrespective of the situation so as to be saved from this beastly act. For that reason, their perceptions have to change from being the society’s inferior to a more liberal position. This leads me to the question about, what can be done to control this menace, to give women sense of security in the country.

As a country that highly prides in itself as the giant of Africa, and one of the leading economy in the continent, one cannot but wonder why issues such as domestic violence are becoming prevalent. This is because to the best of my knowledge Nigeria has every means at hand to put these issues into check. As a result, the government needs to put every resource into work so as to eradicate domestic violence from the country. Additionally, although in recent times there has been tremendous improvement from the government towards eradication of domestic violence. We still need further implementation of laws that will be imperative in serving as deterrent to the perpetrators and as a shield to the victims. To this end, I would like to further charge the government for more solutions to this menace with this quote by Thomas Jefferson “The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government”.

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