How To End Domestic Violence In Nigeria
Despite high levels of violence within relationships in Nigeria, wedding vows are still regarded as sacred, and women are urged to stay with their abusers.
Domestic violence has its roots buried deep in various societies across the world. And Nigeria is no exception. As a matter of fact, reports reveal that domestic violence in Nigeria seems to have increased lately. Both the government and the Nigerian society have not paid enough attention to the matter. Sadly, families from different social, educational, economic and religious backgrounds experience it in several ways. Women continually suffer domestic violence irrespective of their social status, age, class, tribe or religion all over the world.
- Any form of maltreatment that takes place in a household is domestic violence.
- One in three victims of domestic violence is a woman. Statistics back this claim.
- More oft than not, Domestic violence leads to death.
- Domestic violence is a major public health problem. Nigeria is no exception.
- Victims are more vulnerable to depression and drug abuse.
If you've seen a Nigerian home destroyed by domestic violence you'd wonder why the perpetrator acted that way. Some reasons are:
- Mental health problems
- Poverty and unemployment
- Lack of education on the ethics of intimate relationships
- Toxic relationships
- Low self-esteem
- Everyday stress and unpredictable hardships
- Growing up in an abusive family
- Low tolerance and lack of boundaries
- Lack of empathy
- Desire to exercise control
- Lack of trust
The first thing we need to acknowledge is the fact that domestic violence tears families apart. While the physical injuries are immediately obvious, the long-term effects are even more devastating for the victim.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a possibility. That is, even after the victim gets help and walks away from the toxic relationship, she still finds it impossible to recover from the horrifying experience of domestic violence suffered in the past. Some other effects are:
- Inability to function in daily lives
- Absence from work and probable loss of job
- Anxiety and depression
- Self-harm, suicide attempts
- Alcohol and drug abuse (for lack of a better idea to deal with pain)
- Suicidal thoughts
- Emotional distress and psychological trauma
- Regular conflicts
- Increase in crime rate
- Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
- Diminished self-image (for the victim)
- Isolation and poor social skills
- The tendency of the victim to become violent in future relationships
Over the years, there has been a call for decisive legislation to deal with domestic violence in Nigeria and finally, it's here. Section 19 of the Violence Against Persons Act 2015 prohibits spousal battery and provides thus:
“19(1) A person who batters his or her spouse commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or to a fine not exceeding N200, 000 or both.”
This law is most welcome by advocates against domestic violence and a relief to victims who must now be informed that there is a law to check their plight. The law further states that any attempt to commit the act of spousal battery also attracts imprisonment not exceeding 1 year or a fine not exceeding N100,000 or both. Inciting another to commit the offence also attracts a jail term not exceeding 2 years or a fine not exceeding N200, 000 or both. The same goes for an accessory after the fact who aids another who has committed an act of spousal battery.
The Lagos State Government is at the forefront of this fight. The state has donated mobile phones, signage, and laptops to the Lagos Police Command. Before now, victims went to the police and were encouraged to settle their family matters at home. But not anymore.
The DSVRT Coordinator said the phones would serve as dedicated lines. So that residents can contact the officers of the nearest Family Support Units to make reports and follow up. Also, to ensure the sustainability of the matters instituted.
She gave the official phone lines and areas for the Family Support Units to include Adeniji Adele: 0906-288-7864; Ajah: 0906-288-7849; Alakuko: 0906-288-7861; Badagry: 0906-288-7852; Festac: 0906-288-7841; Gender Desk, Police Command: 0906-288-7853 and Ikeja: 0906-288-7863.
Others include Ikorodu (Igbogbo): 0906-288-7858; Ikotun: 0906-288-7870; Ilupeju: 0906-288-7848; Isokoko: 0906-288-7856 and Ketu: 0906-288-7860.
Other states are beginning to embrace this war by working with the police to apprehend perpetrators. If you or anyone you know are experiencing domestic violence, please call the numbers above or visit the website of the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT). You'll find the officers at the Head Office DSVRT. Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos. Telephone : 112, 08137960048. E-mail: [email protected].