By Ruth Tene Natsa
In recent times, domestic violence has been on the rise, with more marriages getting broken and families being destroyed by unexplainable acrimonies. Ruth Tene Natsa, writes on the need to curb the trend.
A trending photo on the social media over the weekend showed a woman allegedly killed by her husband and squeezed into a collapsible luggage/carrier.
This is not new, as a few months ago, a trader had also been caught carrying the corpse of his pregnant wife’s mangled body after killing her in a plastic water drum.
Wikipedia describes domestic violence (also named domestic abuse or family violence) as violence or other abuse by one person against another in a domestic setting, such as in marriage or cohabitation.
White Ribbon Australia further defines domestic violence as violence, abuse and intimidation between people who are or have been in an intimate relationship.
It states that, “the perpetrator uses violence to control and dominate the other person. This causes fear, physical harm and/or psychological harm. Domestic violence is a violation of human rights.”
LEADERSHIP Friday findings have revealed that domestic violence varies from one family or home to another as it includes physical, emotional abuse, financial, verbal, social, sexual, spiritual and image- based abuses among several others.
Indications are also rife that domestic violence(s) can be blamed on a whole number of issues, varying from behavioural (psychological and mental instability). This is a situation in which the abuser is not mentally or physically fit. Economic instability, this is a situation where the abuser tends to pour all his economic/financial frustrations on his/her spouse among several others.
White Ribbon Australia, in its publication, noted that it is not always easy to identify if someone is experiencing domestic violence or is in an abusive relationship.
It identified a number of behaviours as typical abusive relationships, these includes jealousy, possessiveness, put downs, threats and violence that occur in domestic violence and abusive relationships.
A woman may be experiencing abuse if a man in her life, unfairly and regularly accuses her of flirting or being unfaithful, controls how she spends money, decides what she wears or eats, humiliates her in front of other people, monitors what she is doing, including reading her emails and text messages, discourages or prevents her from seeing friends and family, threatens to hurt her, the children or pets, physically assaults her (hitting, biting, slapping, kicking, pushing), yells or threatens to use a weapon against her, constantly compares her with other people, constantly criticises her intelligence, mental health and appearance and also prevents her from practicing her religion.
Interestingly, while the writer has chosen to use the ‘her’ as the indicative pronoun in this write up, there is no doubt that men are also on the receiving end of various abuses by their spouses.
The sad reality of domestic violence is that it has many effects on individuals as well as the nuclear family, which is a small scale of the larger society.
Domestic violence leads to acrimony within the home, emotional instability, broken marriages and homes, it also destabilises the education of children, where they exist in a home.
In the words of Zainab Oluwabukola Atta, a legal practitioner and rights advocate, domestic violence is violence done by a person against another member of his or her household and most times is violence done by a spouse against the other spouse or by intimate partners.
She noted that studies however show that most of the victims of DV are women, while the perpetrators are male. She reiterated that domestic violence has many forms which include Physical, Sexual, Emotional, and Economic violence.
“Physical violence includes hitting, beating and other forms of physical abuse. Sexual violence could be rape or even withholding sex from a spouse as a form of punishment. Economic violence could take the form of refusing to cater for the financial needs of that partner and even sometimes while refusing the wife from working, while emotional violence takes the form of using demeaning, insultive, and degrading words against such a partner”
In many cases all these different forms of Domestic Violence are being perpetrated at the same time but in other cases, it could be one or two types.
“Most people think that as long as the man is not beating or injuring the woman then there is no domestic violence,” she said
The cases of domestic violence perpetrated against male partners and husbands by their wives and female intimate partners, even though not as rampant, are also being under reported as it is seen to be very shameful for a man to say he is being abused by his wife. Such a man is seen as a weakling, so most victims never speak out. Many people especially women, have been killed or maimed as a result of Domestic Violence.
Stating the causes of domestic violence, Barr Atta said the major cause of domestic violence is “unequal power play. When someone has some form of power over the other and abuses it. This could be physical or even financial power”.
“There are also economic differences that can lead to Domestic Violence. For instance, if a wife makes more money and the man feels threatened, he may try to control her via abuse and violence. Husbands have also been known to refuse their wives from working, so that they are totally dependent on the man”.
She maintained that “Patriarchy is a big player in Domestic Violence when men are seen as lords and masters and the women do not have a voice, or depend on the men for their existence”.
“Traditional beliefs and cultural norms that tend to subjugate women is also another factor that leads to Domestic Violence. Some cultures believe that it is right for a man to hit or beat his wife or significant other. The culture in some areas where the girl child education is not given attention also contributes to making females voiceless or totally dependent on men” she added.
Another thing that leads to domestic violence is the cycle of violence by violence survivors. A male child, who grows up in a family where the father is abusive to the mother would, in many cases, continue that behaviour with his own female partner, even if he hated it when it was being perpetrated against his female family members or mum. A female, who grew up seeing her father abuse her mother may see it as normal and acceptable.
“Illiteracy also, is a cause of Domestic Violence. When people are not educated, they may not know that such practices are wrong”.
Speaking on how the scourge can be addressed, the rights activists advocated laws and stringent measures taken against perpetrators” She said.
“Domestic violence is a violation of the human rights of individuals but unfortunately, some argue that the law also allows domestic violence, noting that under the provision of the Penal Code applicable in the Northern part of Nigeria. Section 55 (1) (d) of the Penal Code states the beating of a wife for the purpose of correction is legal.”
“In 1985, Nigeria ratified the convention for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women but international treaties can only go into effect when the government of each country has domesticated such treaties making it a law at both the Federal and State assembles before it can protect the people it was created to protect”.
She further noted that “In 2015, the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Bill, which seeks to prohibit multiple forms of gender-based violence including economic abuse, female genital mutilation, and depriving persons of their liberty among others was passed by the Nigerian Senate. There is an urgent need for this to be passed into law by the state assemblies of each state in Nigeria. Only when this is done and followed through with stringent punishment, would it act as a deterrent to abusers and perpetrators of Domestic Violence.
The legal practitioner further advocated that Training of and establishment of help desks at all police stations and Sensitization and Change of mindset and cultural norms are key to addressing the growing scourge of domestic violence.”
LEADERSHIP Friday, in its report, advocates a growing need to protect victims by ensuring that perpetrators are brought to book and protected, through social reforms and advocacies that are seen to be working.