By Chioma Gabriel
At a wedding reception recently in Lagos, the father of the bride was called out to counsel the newlyweds and he focused his advice on his daughter. He warned her to remember that her husband had been with other women before her but never proposed to them. He chose her. He told her that her husband also has other women in his life who are just his friends, colleagues or acquaintances and therefore should not raise the roof whenever she meets another woman around him but to try and find out who they are to him so as not to make mistakes. He also pointed out the polygamous nature of man and cautioned his daughter to use wisdom in tackling domestic issues especially as it involved her husband and other women.
He however raised alarm over the issue of domestic violence and warned that marriage should involve mutual respect and as long as her husband respects and protects her, she should count it as love.
I didn’t know what to make out of his advice to his daughter but I know that strange things are happening in marriages especially nowadays. People go haywire on social media congratulating those whose marriages survived five or more years. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
In other climes, couples co-habit for years without signing the dotted lines and in many cases, once they do, the relationship quickly crumbles. And Africans are very good in copying alien cultures. Hence, Nigerian wives are now killing their husbands as if to prove that what a man can do, they can do better. Gone were the days when women feared their husbands. It’s now the other way round.
What’s happening to loving family relationships?
I’m well acquainted with a guy who at 48, has refused to marry due to the fear of domestic violence. He grew up seeing his parents violate each other and that left permanent scars on his psyche. He has seen his father batter his mother several times and had seen his mum pour hot water on his father. His only sister left the house after contesting a beauty pageant and their father nearly killed her for daring to appear near-naked in public by way of wearing bikini and exposing her body. His younger brother has his mouth bent to one side because of the beating he got from their father for leaving the boarding house with a classmate to visit the classmate’s parents in Kaduna without telling anybody. The parents were christened Mr and Mrs Tyson in their neighbourhood .
And the guy himself? He stopped speaking with his father the day he returned home from the university and found his mother rolling down the staircase of their four-bedroom duplex. She was having a fight with her husband. The mistake the guy made was rushing at his father and thoroughly dealing with him for beating their mother and pushing her down the staircase. It was that fight that finally nailed the family. The parents obtained a divorce after the attempt by the Catholic Church and friends to patch up the relationship failed. The mother returned to her family and resorted to her maiden name.
My friend is successful in every field of endeavor but would not have a marital relationship because he was scared of ending up like his parents. The result: he fathered four children through four women and never married them. He kept tons of girlfriends but had no marital ties to any of them.
Shelters belonging to non-governmental organisations like Project Alert on Violence Against Women are replete with battered women and children from broken homes. Such agencies always intervene to save women and children from their violent husbands and fathers. One of the researches carried out by Project Alert revealed an increasing prevalence of domestic violence across Nigeria in recent times as reported by about 8 in 10 (78 percent) respondents. This prevalence is highest in the South-West geo-political zone (86 percent) and lowest in the South-South zone (70 percent). More findings revealed that 54 percent of Nigerians have suffered a form of domestic violence or know someone that has experienced domestic violence in their homes with majority of the victims being women as stated by 75 percent of respondents; although ‘men’ (16 percent) and ‘children’ (9 percent) are also known to be victims of domestic violence. Findings from a similar poll revealed that 4 percent of the respondents were victims and 29 percent indicated they know victims of domestic violence and portrayed an increase in the occurrence of domestic violence in Nigeria when these figures are compared to recent figures
The major causes of domestic violence in Nigeria according to the research are ‘economic hardship’ (42 percent), ‘misunderstanding between couples’ (21 percent) and ‘impatience’ (9 percent) .
Most victims of domestic violence do not take any action about their cases, implying that most domestic violence cases go unreported. These victims do not take any action mainly ‘to avoid stigmatization’, while in other cases it could be as a result of ignorance and illiteracy of victims (21 percent), emotional attachment to their spouses and partners (18 percent) and fear of threat or insecurity (17 percent).
Domestic violence is an issue affecting individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, or nationality. It is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behaviour that is only a fraction of a systematic pattern of dominance and control. Domestic violence can result in physical injury, psychological trauma, and in severe cases, even death.
Something has to be done to curb the issue of domestic violence in Nigeria. Why would a woman stab her husband to death because of another woman? Why are couples who professed undying love yesterday become enemies few months after? The decay in the society is taking its toll in family life and something should be done as soon as possible to curb this social menace.