Domestic Violence By Debbie Obasa

Domestic violence basically means a violent or aggressive behaviour within home or typically involving the violent abuse of a spouse or partner. It is a violation of a person’s fundamental human rights, which the Nigerian constitution forbids. A prohibition act [The Violation Against Persons Prohibition Bill (VAPP)] was passed by Nigeria House of Representatives and the Senate in 2013 and May 2015 respectively. The act came as a result of agitations for protection of persons against different forms of violence. Violence, both at the home front and the larger society, is fast becoming a trend recently in Nigeria and it has to be curbed. Daily, there are reports of people killing or maiming their spouses; or a scorned lover pouring acid on ex-lover; or someone being forcefully taken away from his/her family and loved ones.

However, under the VAPP Act, we have laws covering issues like rape, spousal battery, forceful ejection from home, forced financial dependence or economic abuse, harmful widowhood practices, female circumcision, or genital mutilation, abandonment of children, harmful traditional practices, harmful substance attacks such as acid bath, political violence, etc. The perpetrators claim that traditionally, in Nigeria, the beating of wives and children is widely sanctioned as discipline. Therefore, in beating their children, parents believe they are instilling discipline in them. It is the same some husbands beat their wives.

Yes, in actual fact, some women force their husbands to anger, but that must not translate to laying of hands or other form of attacks as punishment or correctional measure. Gbenga Kola, a resident of Ile-Ife, Osun State, said his culture abhors violence against women.

Most times, women are mostly the victims of domestic violence, hence, the need to put domestic violence issues in the front burner of discussions and consider what the law says about it. 25% of women reported forced sex cases in the hands of either their partner or a former partner. Also, the 2014 Demographic and Health survey showed that over 50.5% of married women have experienced at least one or more forms of physical, emotional or sexual violence in their marriage. Relationship inequalities is also a strong indicator of physical violence.  REASONS OR EXCUSES THAT GIVEN FOR PHYSICAL ABUSE

1)      High level of wife beating occurs when the woman is making more money than her husband, or partner.

2)      Husbands being drunk.

3)      Financial issues

4)      Rejection of partner sexual advances

5)      Hereditary

6)      Husbands who are very controlling or highly tempered.

Another form of rampant recently in Nigeria is The Acid Bath. Acid bath is an act of violence where the perpetrator throws acid onto his or her victims body, resulting to disfigurement and possible loss of eye sight. Acid bath is a social ill that needs to be immediately addressed.

The Osun State House of Assembly has passed the Anti-Domestic Violence Bill, 2013, into law. House Leader Timothy Owoeye (Ilesha East) moved the motion for its passage and it was seconded by the Deputy Chief Whip, Akin Taiwo Adeyemi at plenary.  The Speaker, Najeem Salaam, said the law protects women and other vulnerable people from all forms of domestic abuses, such as battery and denial of their rights.

He urged the Ministry of Information and Strategy to sensitise residents on the law.  Meanwhile, provision of penal code applicable in the Northern part of Nigeria specifically encourages violence against women. Underneath its provisions, the beating of a wife for the purpose of correction is legal by use of section 55(1) (d) of the penal code.

The penalty for such acts under Section 19 (1)of the Violence against Persons Acts 2015 prohibits spousal battery and provides thus: “a person who batters his or her spouse commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 3years or to a fine not exceeding N200,000 or both. The law further states that an attempt to commit the act of spousal battery also attract imprisonment not exceeding 1year or a fine not exceeding N100,000 or both. Inciting another to commit the offence also attracts a jail term not exceeding 2years or a fine not exceeding N200,000 or both.

It is unfortunate that despite the enactment of laws prohibiting domestic violence against women, it still occurs by the day and not all of these are being reported, hence the need for enlightenment in this regard.

If you know anyone who is a victim of domestic violence, share this with them, support them, you could be saving their lives as all forms of it should be reported to security officials.

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