I haven’t written about domestic violence on this blog because I think most people can already surmise my stance on it but for the sake of clarity, my stance is to divorce the bastard and press charges. I know a lot of Nigerian women are afraid of advising women to get divorces because “Divorce is a sin” but I strongly believe that God wants women to be alive more than he wants them to be married. Human life comes first for me; every other man-made institution is secondary tertiary.
Another popular argument used to dissuade victims from divorcing their abusers is that “Children need their fathers”. Now, all things been equal, children do need their fathers BUT if the father is an abuser then the children are better off without him. Witnessing a parent abuse the other leaves children with severe emotional/psychological scars & trauma that may never be healed. So, raising children in an abusive household does more harm than good.
Recently, due to some high-profile celebrity cases (Tonto Dikeh & Mercy Aigbe), there have been various debates about domestic violence on the Nigerian Internet. I do not take part in internet debates because, most times, people just end up talking over each other rather than exchanging ideas. Even though I don’t debate online, I do read the threads just to get an idea of people’s opinions. Often, the comments I read about domestic violence and sexual assault leave me so frightened that I never want to leave my house again; the threads that I read on BellaNaija and some other popular Nigerian blogs revealed that many Nigerians are rape and domestic violence apologists.
Most of the comments I read claimed that a woman’s cheating and nagging were reason enough for her to be beaten. Gentlemen, if your wife/girlfriend is unfaithful, please break up with her or get counselling if you are still interested in keeping that relationship BUT you cannot beat her into submission. “Teaching your woman a lesson” will leave your children traumatised and also possibly send you to prison in Nigeria (Nigerian prisons are hell on earth); is it really worth it?
Am the only one that notices how nagging has become a gendered term? Presently, only women are called nags. I believe calling women nags has become an effective silencing tool because many women don’t demand expectations from their husbands so they aren’t termed nags. According to the Oxford Dictionary, nagging is constantly harassing someone to do something (Keyword being harassing) BUT harassment doesn’t have to be involved for women to be called nags; a woman can be politely persistent and still be called a nag. Consistently asking your husband for necessities is now called nagging in Nigeria. I’ve heard many men complain about their wives nagging them for children’s school fees/rent or to stop drinking so much alcohol (Before Nkor); If your wife doesn’t get the money from you, where else is she going to get it from?? Also, she doesn’t want you to die from liver cancer.
Most times, the women who “nag” about financial demands are housewives so they have little/no means of meeting those financial demands themselves. Due to the urgency of those needs, they may understandably become impolite in their requests (because no one is perfect). The woman’s rudeness is not a justification for hitting her. You can tell her you don’t like the way she is speaking to you or walkaway. There are a lot of non-violent ways to resolve conflict; it is not that difficult.
Abusers are sane people, they abuse their victims knowing that they can get away with it and most times, they do get away with it. Nigerian society enables abusers; the society and judicial system are on the side of the abuser especially in cases of marriage. In many situations, when the victim reports to the police, they say “It is a family matter so go home and settle it”. Families also pressure victims to drop the charges; guilt-tripping tactics such as “Do you want the father of your children to become a criminal?” are successfully employed.
So, the victim forgives and returns to “normal” life but in order to prevent another incident, the victim walks on eggshells around the abuser to avoid provocation because many people have told the victim that they caused the previous incident by provoking the abuse BUT because no one is perfect, the victim does something that “provokes” the now bolder abuser which leads to another incident.
In conclusion, to stop/reduce domestic violence, perpetrators need to be sent to prison to put the fear of the law in the hearts and minds of would-be perpetrators.