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Domestic Violence and its effects in Nigeria

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By Mercy Kelani

About 26 million Nigerian women have suffered domestic violence.

Globally, domestic violence is an issue than affects all countries, of which Nigeria is not an exception. Despite measures taken to curb this menace, it keeps increasing in an alarming rate. Domestic violence has to do with abusive behaviours that happen in intimate relationships. In Nigeria, this form of violence is not limited to women as men also fall victims. However, women and children are mostly affected and are the primary victims in most situations. Millions of people in Nigeria’s over 200 million population suffer from this disturbing issue.

According to a 2011-2021 report by Statista, the female population in Nigeria was 105.57 million, approximately. Another report by The Conversation states that 1 out of 4 Nigerian women has experienced abuse in an intimate relationship. Judging from both researches, about 26 million Nigerian women have suffered domestic violence from intimate partners. Some of the factors that fuel this act in the country include promotion of gender inequalities, weak legal reforms, cultural norms, and many more.

Victims of violence suffer physical and mental harm.

Also, traditional gender roles, under which women are designated subordinate positions below men, promote the belief that violence against women is a norm. These norms cause restricted access to education and economic opportunities for women. Sociological challenges such as drug abuse, poverty and unemployment further increase the likelihood of domestic violence. The effects of domestic violence have dangerous impacts on individuals, families, and communities. Victims often undergo physical injuries, bruises, broken bones, lacerations, health complications and even death.

Psychological effects such as depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) usually affect the mental health of victims. Children who undergo domestic violence have high tendencies of suffering emotional trauma that can impede their social and cognitive development. Growing up in an environment that encourages violence makes aggression look normal. Aside health consequences, domestic violence has economic repercussions on its victims as they are usually unable to maintain employments to fend for their families.

Empowerment programmes for women should be created.

To combat this form of violence in the country, it is important that there is creation of public awareness concerning the existence of this trend. There should also be educational campaigns that teaches women and men the significance of gender equality, non-violence and respect. Legal frameworks in Nigeria must also be strengthened enough to apprehend perpetrators and protect victims. Laws that tackle domestic violence and affirm it as a punishable crime should be enacted and enforced by the government.

It is pertinent that there are establishments of empowerment programmes for women through education, economic opportunities, skill acquisition and skill development. Through improvement of the economic independence and social freedom of women, this violent trend will be massively curbed. It is likewise necessary that the government provides counselling services and legal aid for victims of this type of violence, in order to hasten their recovery. The government should ensure that these services are sufficiently funded, culturally sensitive and accessible for the victims.

Collaboration with international organisations is important.

Additionally, engagement of men and boys as allies in the eradication of domestic violence should be ensured. Programmes that motivate men to challenge traditional beliefs of masculinity and promote healthy relationships amongst the two genders should be organised. There is also a need for Nigeria to collaborate with international organisations to address this trend. With the help of the United Nations (UN), the African Union (AU) and ECOWAS, Nigeria will be able to overcome this issue.

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