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Alarming rate of domestic violence in Nigeria

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By Mercy Kelani

Over 47 women have died from the hands of their husbands since Jan 2023.

According to a UNICEF report, there are several cases of violence against women and girls that families of victims cover up, with several others getting settled in court. There is an alarming increase in the rate of wife beating in Nigeria, which has caused government officials to buckle down as the crisis must be curbed to prevent a national embarrassment. Between January and September 2022, there was a report of 2,543 cases of abuse by the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency (DSVA).

During the COVID-19 pandemic, domestic violence increased across the globe. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in a 2020 report revealed that about 81,000 women and girls across the world lost their lives; a family member or an intimate partner was responsible for 58 percent (47,000) of these deaths. Data further revealed that in Nigeria, over 47 women have died from the hands of their husbands since the beginning of this year. Before their deaths, they had spoken about their violations. However, those who survived the abuse were terrified and are still silent.

Survivors of the violence do not tell their ordeals.

In April 2022, a popular Nigerian gospel artist, Osinachi Nwachukwu, who sang “Ekwueme” — that had 77 million YouTube views in 2017 — died from an abusive marriage. In the north-eastern Yola South Local Government Area of Nigeria, Aminu Abubakar, a 56 year-old man, has been arrested for reportedly beating Fadinatu, his 38 year-old wife, to death. Also, a man named Inuaghata was said to have allegedly killed Osaretin, his 23 year-old pregnant wife, by slitting her throat with a knife.

The UNICEF report on 16 Facts about Violence against Women and Girls in Nigeria revealed that almost 50 percent of women and girls, between the ages of 15 and 45 years, who are survivors of domestic violence do not tell their ordeals to anyone. This is worsened by lack of trust by citizens, particularly women, in the criminal justice system for enforcement of existing laws. Lack of awareness of rights and laws due to social norms that legalize abuse, under-reporting, and stigmatization also exacerbate the situation.

Nigeria has announced its plans to launch therapeutic sessions for men.

A legal practitioner, Isaiah Ode, stated that spousal killings would not cease if the society continued to mandate people to remain in abusive relationships. Therefore, he advised parents, religious leaders, and everyone else to put an end to advising couples to remain in violent marriages. The executive director of the Women’s Rights and Health Project (WRAHP), an NGO, Bose Ironsi, asserted that there is too much leniency attached to the law against domestic violence as it has failed to discourage a repetition of this criminal act.

As the regime of former President Muhammadu Buhari ended, the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development at the time, Pauline Tallen, made an announcement of a long-term programme to alleviate women out of poverty for reduction of domestic violence. However, Nigeria has announced its plans to launch therapeutic sessions for men. To be overseen by the Lagos State DSVA, the Executive Secretary of the DSVA, Titilola Vivour Adeniyi, said the aim of the programme is to ensure the psycho-social wellbeing of the citizens.

Women should prioritize their wellbeing and safety.

Also, the Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), in partnership with the Ford Foundation, has commenced sensitization of women business leaders, in July 2023, for the elimination of domestic violence in their communities. This initiative fosters collaboration between traditional women leaders, women’s associations and market leaders to take part in strategies to erase violence against women. The First Lady of South-South Edo State, Betsy Obaseki, urged women to prioritize their wellbeing and safety, and exit an abusive marriage rather than lose their lives in it.

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