Domestic violence a not so silent epidemic in Nigeria: A call to criminalize domestic violence offenders
nother day, another victim! This time, it is a known Nigerian actress bruised from head to toe by a man who is supposed to protect her. Why is it so difficult to understand the devastating message that domestic violence evokes? When a woman is beaten up by the man who vowed to love, honor and protect her it is immoral and inhumane. When a man beats his wife, the impact is enormous. Consider a couple who have five beautiful children, boys and girls included. And these children live in a home where their mother is constantly under stress, pressure and in dire situations living in fear. How do you imagine that home to be? A man who beats and abuses his family turns his home into a war zone, a prison, a nightmare!
The children who live in an abusive home will grow up forever scared from living in an abusive environment. The mother who is supposed to nurture, protect and love her children is emotionally, physically and psychologically drained. Domestic violence has existed in almost every culture for many years and throughout history. In Nigeria, domestic violence intervention is nonexistent with societal reaction are deeply rooted in a culture that forgives batterers. Nigerian government has refused to step up to the plate to find effective solutions for domestic violence victims.
Male batterers are rarely arrested, prosecuted, or sentenced. There is no incentive for a man or woman who abuses their victims to stop. In the United States domestic violence crimes are managed by social policies and laws instituted to protect victims of domestic abuse. The government focused their effort on improving legal policies to protect women and punish offenders. Opinions on domestic violence in Nigeria are rooted in assumptions that beating a woman is our culture. Assault and battery is no one’s culture but a crime!
Unless we criminalize domestic violence, it will unfortunately prevail in our society. Implementing legislative bills that calls domestic violence a crime is an effective approach to improving the statistics for people facing domestic violence. States like Lagos state should be applauded for instituting Domestic Violence Laws that protect women and children. The United States department of justice defines Domestic violence as physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.
How does Nigeria as a modern society define domestic violence? Nigeria is considered a civilized society and hence should deal with domestic violence in a current framework. What are we as a society teaching our children? Statistics show that Men who frequently assault their wives also frequently abused their children. Child abuse is more time likely to occur in families where domestic violence is present. Men who have witnessed their parents' domestic violence are three times more likely to abuse their own wives than children on non-violent parents. Sons of the most violent parents are more likely to become wife beaters.
Any husband who willfully inflicts upon his wife corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition, and any person who willfully inflicts upon any child any cruel and inhumane corporal punishments or injury resulting in a traumatic condition, is guilty of a felony, and should be punished by imprisonment.
The United Nations recognizes domestic violence as an international human rights issue and issues a Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women.
Will 2017 be a year when we say enough is enough, and take meaningful action to protect women and children in our country?
Dr. Sandra Anyoha is the founder of the National Association of Nigerian Nurses in North America (NANNNA). For more information on how you can partner with NANNNA on fighting domestic violence visit www.nannna.org