How to End Domestic Violence In Nigeria ~ Evans Ufeli Esq


Modern societies are evolving with diverse social trends, some of which have become globally accepted and others have remained repulsive to the composition of societal order. Domestic violence constitutes one of those tendencies that many societies have rejected as it poses a deadly threat to the ecosystem. Domestic violence, sometimes referred to as spousal violence, is when a man or a woman applies physical force on his or her spouse. It is perhaps the most common form of violence against women found in patriarchy ridden societies where such structures are endorsed and reinforced by legislations, customs and religious system.

In Nigeria, domestic violence has become the cankerworm that is eating deeply into the fabric of our nation’s solidarity. The effect of this menace can be seen in the high rate of divorce cases that have sprung out of our society for years. The physical violence includes assaults, battery, pushing, cutting, burning, injuries, biting, slapping, punching, choking, sharing, pulling by the hair and pouring of acid.

Violence against women and girls is one of the most unswerving acts of power imbalance between men and women in Nigeria. Violence against women in its entirety is deeply enshrined in both western and non-western societies. Domestic violence is not exclusive to Nigeria as a study by the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that battery is the most common source of injury among American women. It has been discovered that 22 to 35 percent of women who visit emergency rooms in the United States are there for symptoms related to on-going abuse.

Since the year 2000, there have been intermittent debates about enacting laws against domestic violence in Nigeria. These attempts paved way for the domestic violence and other related matters bill, 2006. The bill is innovative because it made provision for the police to arrest and investigate allegations of domestic violence. It must be noted that the police are usually reluctant to arrest perpetrators of domestic violence. This bill is still pending at the National Assembly.

However, the Lagos State government in 2007 passed a bill into law to provide protection against domestic violence and other matters connected thereto. The law has paved way for four other states: Cross River State, Ekiti, Ebonyi and Jigawa, who have enacted similar legislations.

It appears there is a lack of adequate laws, status and policies being enacted to curb all forms of violence against women in Nigeria. Again, there is limited institutional or organisational support to help women, who are the commonest victims of domestic violence. The attitude of the police, court, and state agents are not encouraging enough because they are not willing to assist the victims of domestic violence.

There exists also an inadequate link between crime and punishment. The perpetrators of domestic violence receive inadequate punishments because ours is a system that works against itself and women constantly tolerate the violence because they are disadvantaged. There is a culture of silence among victims who are afraid to come out because they may be embarrassed and stigmatised. They live and suffer in silence.

The last discouraging factor is that most women who are victims are illiterate and therefore ignorant of their rights. There is therefore a need for adequate awareness and campaign to enlighten women of what steps to take in seeking redress for the injustice done to them.