Domestic violence in Nigeria: Avoidable loss, too many

Despite having a lineup of laws and acts aimed at prohibiting violence and protecting victims of violence, Nigeria still records an increase in domestic and sexual violence.

Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act passed in 2015 and Protection Against Domestic Violence Law ( PADVL) passed in 2007, asides the Criminal and Penal Codes, offer victims respite and protection ,but it seems Nigerians are not law-knowledgeable enough to know what protects them. Is that really the case or is there more to this?

April 11, 2021 was a day of sad tale for the Ikpeama’s as they lost their daughter, a Madonna University trained lawyer ,Barrister Adaeze Destiny Ikpeama,who became the most recent victim of domestic violence.

Eyewitness account who was closed to the family reports that the six-year old marital union between Anthony Elvis and Adaeze Destiny was actually a case of goat and yam. Two children and a six-month pregnancy did not stop Anthony from using his wife as a heavy weight punching bag.

Elders from both sides of the family had waded in but the beatings did not stop till he beat a six-month pregnant Adaeze into oblivion.

Adaeze was a trained lawyer .She knew the law. Why did she endure the beating till death?

Advocates for Children and Vulnerable Persons Network received a distress call days ago to rescue Alice Effiong, whose teeth was knocked out by her husband Columbus Effiong in a fight. The police and human rights advocates became fully involved. She said her husband had been beating her for a long time but she described the latest assault as brutal.

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However, in what seem as a twist,the said victim had profoundly begged to have her husband released. Though the said husband prefers to serve his jail term instead of living under the same roof with Alice,
“If it is prison, I am ready, even if it is for ten years, I’ll be happy, so she will feel the brunt of what I am feeling, the school fees, the feeding, the nonsensical thing she is doing in my house. She has pushed me into this. Why will somebody with children be sleeping around 8:30 am? There is no love, it is the children that are making me condone her in this marriage,” Columbus said.

In February 2021, David Idibie beat his wife Juliana Idibie to death in Ajah, Lekki, Lagos State.

Eyewitnesses told media houses that Juliana had accused her husband of having a lover in whose place he usually ate since he no longer ate at home. This was not the first time. An argument was said to have ensued between the couple and the man attempted to leave the house in anger but his wife blocked the exit.

While trying to ensure he didn’t go out, the woman allegedly slipped and hit her head on the ground.

The most recent one that has taken over the Nigerian social media space with the couple releasing videos and pictures as evidence is the case of Former Minister of Aviation ,Femi Fani Kayode and his former beauty queen wife, Precious Chikwendu.

In press releases, Chikwendu had alluded to the fact that Femi was very violent in the marriage and had beaten her several times, including occasions where she was heavily pregnant; none of which Femi has denied.

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Why do domestic abuse victims stay?

Why is it that in most cases, they do not make use of legal provisions to protect themselves? Why do the public get to hear of these cases for the first time after years and sometimes ,decades of abuse?

Many times , the victims reasons for staying with their abusers are extremely complex .

NCADV gives reasons why victims stick through ,even till death :

•The fear that the abuser’s actions will become more violent and may become lethal if the victim attempts to leave.

•Unsupportive friends and family

•Knowledge of the difficulties of single parenting and reduced financial circumstances

•The victim feeling that the relationship is a mix of good times, love and hope along with the manipulation, intimidation and fear.

•The victim’s lack of knowledge of or access to safety and support
•Fear of losing custody of any children if they leave or divorce their abuser or fear the abuser will hurt, or even kill, their children

•Lack of means to support themselves and/or their children financially or lack of access to cash, bank accounts, or assets

•Lack of having somewhere to go (e.g. no friends or family to help, no money for hotel, shelter programs are full or limited by length of stay)

•Fear that homelessness may be their only option if they leave.

•Religious or cultural beliefs and practices may not support divorce or may dictate outdated gender roles and keep the victim trapped in the relationship

•Belief that two parent households are better for children, despite abuse.

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The country needs massive education and re-sensitization on the malaise that domestic violence in marriages is. No one deserves to be at the mercy of another all the days of their lives. A No violence undertaking should be signed at every marriage contracted- at courts or religious house. Victims should be urged to seek legal assistance as quick as possible- at the first slap!

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