By Denerele Animasaun

Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent -Isaac Asimov

I am not fond of rehashing old grounds but, it is important to address certain issues over and over again. One can only hope that somewhere, someone, might find some help on these pages and perhaps, it may help them or break the cycle of abuse. Domestic or spousal violence has been a daily fodder for far too long in Nigeria and sadly, it seems to titillate the audience and it has become a voyeuristic pass time and far too many gape at such horrors, while many make their usual rabid comments and pass judgement on these victims and admonish the perpetrators. This has become a daily occurrence and victims alas, do not know any different and they believe that they deserve to be treated badly.

I have covered this subject matter for the last three years, and every time there is more and more deaths, as a result of spousal violence.

And far too many people look away or shrug their shoulders because, they reason, that it is not their business and that it is between the couple and no one else. So when they hear the physical abuse they fail to intervene.

In the meantime, there are numerous people who are quick to respond to political chit chat and mundane dribble. This audible silence is very worrying, it seems we have become like the three monkeys-see no evil, hear no evil and say no evil. Little wonder why we have collectively lost our moral compass.

More men, than women are main culprits of physical abuse. Agreed, the subject of domestic violence is an uncomfortable one, it is uncomfortable to discuss and not just because of the nature of the violence, it is the mere fact, victims do not know where to turn to as families are quick to blame the victim; that may be if they tried harder, or behaved one way or another then maybe, they will be all right. Some comments such as; that perhaps, the victim had antagonised the perpetrator or maybe she had cheated!  That the woman had got too successful, or did not cook for her husband or was not attractive enough and the list is endless.

Victims’ families are more likely to send the victim back to the perpetrator for more abuse and worse. There are also economic dependencies that stop the victim from leaving or family for intervening to protect the victim.

In Nigeria, the problem will not go away until it is tackled head on and it is addressed with the seriousness and commitment it deserves. This is not a victimless crime, it leaves in its wake children, parents, siblings and extended families and most alarmingly, the cycle repeats itself unless we address this barbarity and the law should support the victims in ensuring a stiffer and custodial sentence for abusers.

It will help if the government gets behind the campaign to educate the people and provide help for victims.

There should be top to bottom effort to get to grips with cases of abuses where ever it happens.

The difficulty is how we change the mind-set of the people, it is not impossible and by all means, it is important to challenge those with hard held views and it must involve those who are in power and  those that think they are above the law. No one is and no one should be.

No matter what the case may be, it is wrong to use violence.  No matter the reason, we can and should not advocate or excuse violence.“The statistics on domestic violence in Nigeria, is shocking- according to National Population Commission (NPC) [Nigeria] and ICF Macro. 2009. Nigeria has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in Africa. I am not quite sure that this is a surprise to many but maybe it is. It is said that as many as two thirds of Nigerian women are believed to experience physical, sexual and psychological abuse at the hands of their husbands. A small scale study conducted in Oyo and Lagos states indicated that 65% of educated women are abused and 56% blue collar or market women experience similar attacks.

The African Journal of Reproductive Health in 2005 referring to Nigerian men:” a husband has the liberty to “violate and batter” his wife if he feels she has not adequately fulfilled her obligations”.“And Amnesty International calls Nigeria’s rate of domestic violence “shocking,” and has called on the local governments to do something to stem the violence that: “On a daily basis, Nigerian women are beaten, raped and even murdered by members of their family for supposed transgressions, which can range from not having meals ready on time to visiting family members without their husband’s permission.“Domestic violence affects not just the victim but indirectly all those who witness the violence; children, family, relatives and witnesses to the physical abuse and violence.

It predisposes the children to trauma and other psychological problems throughout their lives and worryingly, they may learn to become future victims or abusers later on in life and hence the way the cycle continues. Incidences of domestic violence cuts across social and economic background and although women are mainly victims and men, mainly are perpetrators of domestic violence. Women are increasingly becoming perpetrators of domestic violence too. According to the National Demographic and Health Survey in 2018, over a quarter of the population of all women in Nigeria have experienced domestic violence. This is staggering and shocking.

The recent case of Lekan Shonde, the man who allegedly killed his wife. Then there was the case of Oyelowo Oyediran Ajanaku, a 38-year old woman, who killed her husband in Ibadan. There are also cases abroad with Nigerians as well such as the former Benue State governor, Gabriel Suswam who was arrested by the Metropolitan Police. His wife, Yemisi had called the police to report the violence. Domestic violence is taken seriously here in the UK but it has been a long time coming and Nigeria will have to do more to take the calls of spouses seriously and have a better way of dealing with victims of domestic violence. In the UK, they have dedicated staff and police who are trained in supporting victims of domestic violence when it comes to getting people to talk freely about domestic or spousal violence. Last week, a Cameroonian man, admittedly not a Nigerian, killed his wife of two years but it was macabrely reported in the local news with pictures depicting the fatally wounded woman covered in bruises and with a bloodied face.  Seriously, there is no joy in showing this. Nigerians have lost the shock factor and the daily diet of such horrors has normalised violence and abuse.

What was shocking was the way that many people reacted in the defence of this case and the others below; that perhaps, the victim had antagonised the perpetrator or maybe she had cheated! No matter what the case may be, it is wrong to use violence.  No matter the reason, we can and should not advocate or excuse violence.

I know it is time to have that discussion even if it is not a popular subject matter.

If anyone is affected by the content, I will be discussing below, please contact: Lagos State Domestic and sexual violence response team (DSVT)@[email protected] or @divert or 0813-796-0048 or be signposted a local equivalent…

Project Alert on Violence Against Women“Lagos Office“17/21 Akinsanya Street, Off Isheri Road,“Ojodu-Berger, Lagos.“

Email: projectalert“ [email protected]“ Telephone: 234-1-8209387; 08052004698; 08180091072



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