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Domestic violence women’s cross to bear?

By Yetunde Arebi
Hi,When two people fall in love, the general belief is that the two relate in peace, love care and harmony, watching out for each other and each other’s backs, no matter what. It is on this premise that they take the marital vows, the man assuming the headship of the new family.

In the olden days, the man was regarded as lord and master of his house, he had the final say over all that lives under roof. His wife is also regarded as one of his possessions because he paid the bride price, thus he is allowed by culture and to a large extent the law to take measures he deems fit to protect his investment.

Thus, wife battering or chastising, now identified as a form of domestic violence has always been accepted as one of the many ways a man can correct or discipline an erring wife.

Though, even back in the olden days, the act is usually received with mixed feelings among diverse people. However, with the era of male supremacy gradually fading out, and more women gaining financial and educational leverage, many, including men, now see wife battering as an attack and abuse of the supposedly weaker sex.

Add to this is the enactment of laws by at various levels of government in the country against domestic violence, some of which attract stiff penalties if found guilty of.

However, despite the fact that the act is fast becoming unfashionable, many women still experience awesome display of power by their spouses. In taking another look at this age long practice, we ask some of our respondents how it feels to be physically abused by some one who is supposed to love and care for you?

How much do they know about the laws that have been enacted to protect them? What should a woman do, if she is being physically abused by her man? How can this law come to her rescue? Please, do send in your views/contributions on this issue to The Human Angle, P.M.B. 1007, Apapa, Lagos. or e-mail address: Happy reading!

Isioma, (33), Teacher, receives regular beatings from her husband, David (39), an Engineer. She believes she has to endure because of her children:

“He was not like this while we were courting. He was very loving, caring and well behaved normally. We had arguments but they never resulted into verbal abuses or physical combats. But now we do.

Every body in the other flats know about our fights. In fact, I am sure that most of our neighbours in other compounds know about us as well. Whenever it happens, I feel ashamed.

I am the only woman in our compound that gets beaten by her husband on a regular basis. It came to a stage that I decided to fight back and not allow myself to be treated like a slave again. I was really angry and fed up with the whole marriage.

It was a terrible night for the two of us. I was ready for a show down and at the worst, ready to leave him.

He is very fond of shouting me down when there is an argument by saying “shut up” and calling me names like “stupid.”

Naturally I would reply him and then the fight will begin. That night he had only a wrapper tied around his waist. I dragged him out of the flat and tore off the wrapper in the full glare of everyone in the compound. Since he believes that wrestling bouts are signs of his manliness, then it will be good to let everybody see what he thinks qualifies him a man.

If it is by beating that other men display their manliness, then, he should tell the whole world. Immediately the wrapper came off, he sought for covering, trying to cover his thing with his hands. There was nowhere to run to other than the next flat which the men quickly led him into.

He kept on lamenting that I had disgraced him in front of everybody and that he will deal with me. I shouted back at him to come out and deal with me. I just didn’t know what got into my head that night.

To my utter dismay the neighbours began scolding me that I had no right to do what I did to him. They said that I had not only disgraced him, but myself too, by displaying to the whole world his manhood.

This according to them is what makes him my husband and what is keeping the family together. They argued that it would have been terrible for us if it was during the day time and the children were awake to watch the scene.

Can you imagine that? So, I had no right to protect myself from him because he is my husband! I should just fold my hands and wait till he sends me to the hospital with constant punching. In fact, I believe that it is the society that is encouraging this animalistic behaviour.

Even the women too were not in support of my action. As for me, I was happy I did it and I am still happy till today. Since then, there has been a bit of caution. But it doesn’t mean that we have stopped fighting altogether.

There was a day he beat me and I couldn’t go to the office for two days. I had a black eye. When I reported for work on the third day, I had to make up a story to justify my black eye.

Of course they didn’t believe me, but they couldn’t tell me to my face that I was lying. I wore a pair of dark goggles around for almost two weeks.

Many have advised me at one time or another to leave him. I can’t bring myself to do that, at least, not now that I have children for him. Where will I take them to? Is it to my parents’ house or to another man’s house? I have to stay and make my marriage work because of my children.

I want t believe that once you are married, then you are married. I can’t opt to leave them in the care of another woman if he decides to remarry.

We all know what step parents can be like, especially the women. When they are still outside, they may be nice to the children, but once they come in, it becomes a different story entirely, especially when the man is not around to see what goes on in the house.

Things become worse once they start having their own children. so, I just have to endure and pray that as we both grow older, he will also grow out of it. At least, that is what my mother says”.


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