By Mosuru Olowoopejo
FOLLOWING alleged domestic violence case between Nollywood actress, Mercy Aigbe and her husband, Lanre Gentry, it became obvious that domestic violence in homes has become prevalent in Nigeria especially in Lagos State. This prompted the government to establish laws and an agency, Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team, DSVRT, coordinated by Mrs. Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi, to provide assistance to victims of the abuse.
While the agency strives to ensure the abused get fair judgement from court, report conducted by the State Government showed that evidence for 88 percent of cases recorded within Lagos were either destroyed by the abuser or misplaced by the victim. A report by the Lagos State Government in 2016 indicated that victims of the cases perpetrated within the period under review could not provide evidence that would assist the agency in court or in settling the case amicably between both spouses when the need arise.
This further led to 88 percent of husbands denying ever physically assaulting their wives since their marriages wrer pronounced. The report further disclosed that of the 20 percent domestic violence survivors, who had sought the assistance of the government agencies to get redress, 18 percent withdrew their cases from court. It also disclosed that 85 percent of victims blamed third party interference which includes mother-in-law, sister-in-law and brother-in-law, who probably visited the couple and interfered in the marriage; igniting the domestic violence.
The statistics on domestic violence was contained in a report conducted by Lagos State Government through DSVRT, titled ‘Trends in Domestic Violence,’ obtained by Vanguard. According to the report displayed on graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended for easy understanding, 78 percent of the victims had reported their spouses to religious leaders to persuade them to desist from the act.
But the abuser never stops committing the act, arguing that the spouse was involved in extra-marital affairs. The chart revealed that 98 percent of the husbands stated that they attack their spouse because they believe she was having extra-marital affairs. On why they result to abusing their wives, 70 percent of the perpetrators noted that they were survivors of verbal and emotional abuse while growing up.
The info-graphic further showed that while the abuse persists, efforts by government agencies to persuade the wife in leaving the home to prevent further abuse proved abortive. The report indicated that the reason for this was because 90 percent of the women were financially dependent on their husbands. It argued that 74 percent of the survivors were still interested in the relationship but all they demanded for was that the physical assaults should stop.
On why they are still interested in the relationship, the graphics showed that 98 percent of the abused wanted to remain in the relationship solely for the sake of their children. Speaking in an exclusive interview on the report, Vivour-Adeniyi told Vanguard that statistics was gotten from survey conducted on perpetrators and victims of domestic violence in the state.
She argued that the result of the trend mirrored what was happening in the society, saying, it indicated that Nigeria, United Kingdom and other advanced countries are on the same track on domestic violence trends. According to her, the essence of embarking on the survey was to ascertain if the trend also occurs in Nigeria especially in Lagos State. “During our investigation, we realized that most cases were same but the only difference was that the person and the peculiar situation. The issues varied from lack of trust, thinking that the other partner was having extra-marital affair and third party interference and others. The variables were same and that is the most interesting thing about the trend.
“In most situations, the man does not have any evidence to show that their wives were truly engaging in extra-marital affairs but all they claimed was that they saw their wives receiving phone calls from another man, text messages or they saw her discussing with another man on the street.
Victims of domestic violence
“And that was why they assumed the person was the man she was having extra-marital affairs with. Without getting enough evidence to buttress their claims, they start to assault the women. We all discovered that this was the common trend in the act. And it indicated that the perpetrators of domestic violence have low-self esteem.”
The coordinator lamented that it had become an act that most victims of domestic violence do not want to leave their spouse rather demanded that the beating should stop. “It is one thing for a man who is a usual perpetrator to admit that he has problem. But rather, they continue blaming the woman for their offence. And it is funny that the religious outfits, whom these women approach, first, do not address the issue from the root. This is not to kick against their effort but to buttress that Domestic violence is a behavioural issue. And it requires the expertise of a Clinical psychologist to address the issue.”
“We aren’t saying that in any relationship there would not be issues but the way both partner act is key. And to counsel the spouses on how to act when the issue arises requires the expertise of psychologist,” Vivour-Adeniyi added.