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Re: When silence is not golden

Helen Ovbiagele, Woman Editor

Violence against women the globe over, is real, alive and thriving in all societies, though  in varying degrees and intensity, depending on how enlightened the society is about human, and how much respect they have for their female folk.

In those societies where human rights are not recognized by the authorities or custodians of culture and religion, women are regarded the scum of the earth and maltreated with audacity.  Among some ethnic groups in the developing world, women are second hand citizens who can be disposed of by the males in their families.

In fact they’re owned by the males in their lives i.e. fathers, brothers, husbands, and these ones determine whether they are fit to live or not. Hence you have women being killed by their male relations for ‘bringing dishonour’ to the family by having sexual relationships outside marriage, getting pregnant while single, indecent dressing, etc.

In a riot or war situation, women, even if they’re not at the war front and are not the reason for the riot or war, suffer the most, as they are victims of assaults and indecent acts and summary killings.
Increasing Violence against women is of such great concern that the United Nations had to declare a day for it, to create an awareness of the odious act, and to urge nations to legislate against all its forms.   ‘PLATEAU WOMEN STORM ABUJA, PROTEST KILLINGS’ was a recent front page head line, in the aftermath of the Jos mayhem.  In Jos itself, hundreds of Plateau women were alleged to have staged peaceful demonstrations protesting the riots in which hundreds, mostly women and children, were murdered.    May the souls of all those who died in the mayhem rest in peace.  Amen.

Moving away from riots and wars, domestic violence seems to be on the increase in the homestead too.  The hard economic times haven’t helped matters as many husbands lose their jobs, and some are forced to depend on their wives financially.  This may  hurt their pride as they see respect for them as the head and chief provider in the home, gradually being eroded.   Any voice of opposition from their wives on any issue is seen as a sign that they now want to rule the home.

All these bring stress which may lead to violence aimed at ‘taming’ the woman. For some men, any misfortune they encounter is caused by  their wives.  Like when they can’t keep a job or get promotion at work, or are unemployed for a long time.  This invites violence, especially if the woman is getting on well at her place of work.   Demands for money by the wife causes violence too.  If the violence are mainly verbal words which hurt, the women may hang in there and bear it.  But when there’s physical violence, it is wise for the woman to cry out.   But will they?

We got more views on the write-up from women than from men, understandably.  Surprisingly, some of them feel domestic violence shouldn’t be exposed publicly; mainly because of the stigma and the bad publicity it would bring to the family.  A few others, (younger women, I suppose) said it’s the silence of victims which encourages the men to continue to beat up their wives.
We thank all those who wrote in.

‘Madam, I just love that your write-up on domestic violence.   Violence of any sort should be exposed and exposed fast by the victim.  I don’t believe in keeping such a dastard thing under wraps.  Some men have got away with the murder of their wives, simply because those wives never complained aloud that they’re being battered.  A woman who is a victim of domestic violence owes it to herself and her children, to cry out and expose the man.  If that signals the end of the union, so be it.  It’s better for her to be alive and single, than to remain in the marriage and get killed.  Thanks, Buccy, Ondo State.’

‘If you go and report to the Police that you’re being battered by your husband, just what will you achieve by that?   Our policemen, in the first place, don’t regard domestic violence as serious, and instead of going to arrest your spouse, they’re most likely to ‘advise’ you to go reconcile with the man.   I suppose that as men, some of them don’t get on with their own spouses and they use that yard stick to judge other women.

Thus they see you as a stubborn and disobedient wife who should be disciplined by the husband.  Let the government re-train our policemen to take domestic violence seriously so that victims can be encourage to cry out for help.  When a man knows that the police will come get him if he batters his wife, he’s most likely to curb his aggressiveness in the home.   – Thank you, auntie. – Rosie, Port Harcourt.’

‘Sister Helen, Domestic violence can be caused by either sex, and this is condemnable. Wife, honour your husband.  Husband, love your wife and control your anger! – Layi’

‘Madam, concerning domestic violence & where silence is not golden. The problem is the society.  It frowns on women who leave their husbands, not minding the reason for their action.  No woman should stay in a violent relationship for any reason.’

Helen, let me talk as a Nigerian.  If you report violence in your home, you’re automatically saying that the union has failed.  Which woman wants to admit that she had chosen the wrong marital partner, or that there’s no more love in her home and marriage?  For many women, a failed marriage is a failed life, so, they would rather stay and put up with constant beating than to speak up or leave that violent marriage. – Cecy, Lagos.’

‘My sister, many women put up with violence in their homes because of finance.  They are dependent on their husbands financially, and they’re not in a position to look after themselves and their kids if they leave a foul and violent husband.   Also, among some ethnic groups, a wife is the property of the husband, so, she won’t be welcome back in her parents’ home if she quits.  Good or bad, she’s told that she has to stay with the man.

This is why some men have the impetus to keep on beating another person’s daughter that they’re married to.  This cultural attitude should change.  There should always be support for a wife from her parents if she ‘s being battered by her husband.  If a man knows this, he would hesitate to ill-treat his wife to the point of turning her into a punching bag.’

‘Madam Helen, violence in the home from the man would be much reduced if women learn to respect their husbands and control their tongue.  Some mild-mannered and considerate  husbands  have been forced to become violent in the home because of their wives’ attitude.  Some wives would shout down at their husband and try to humiliate him in front of his friends and neighbours.  Very few men can tolerate that in the long term. Some women actually start the violence in the home.’

My view is that we should, by example, bring up our children to respect themselves and their spouses.  At traditional weddings, both parties should be publicly counselled against violence of any sort in the home.  I’m a woman and single.    Some men are not worth respecting.  A lady should study a man properly before agreeing to marry him.  Where possible, investigate around him in order to know his character properly.  Exposing violence in the home brings shame to the family.  Thanks ma.  Fifi, Lagos.’


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