By Ummulkhair Oyiza Akibu, U12MM1069
Domestic violence is a physical or emotional abuse directed at a spouse, siblings, children or the elderly. Domestic violence is a problem in Nigeria as well as in many parts of Africa. The danger of domestic violence is most often than not faced by women. The poorer the women are the greater for them is the risk of suffering domestic violence.
“Women with fewer resources or greater perceived vulnerability, girls and those experiencing physical or psychiatric disabilities or living below the poverty line are at greater risk of domestic violence and lifetime abuse, children are also affected by domestic violence even if they do not witness it directly,’’ claimed Dr. Maymunah Kadiri, a consultant psychiatrist in her statement to press a year ago.
Ms. Kadiri said that the worst forms of domestic violence are rape and homicide, and that domestic violence is one of the major social issues in Nigeria. Battering and trafficking are other grave forms of abuse experienced by Nigerian girls and women. Battered women suffer physical and mental problems as a result of domestic violence. Kadiri considers domestic violence to have serious destructive social consequences including physical and psychological disorders.
It is one of the most pervasive of human rights violation that denies a person of their security, equality, dignity, self-worth and right to enjoy fundamental freedom.
Women Aid Collective (WACOL 2004) stated that domestic violence could be anything that constitutes an action meted out to someone which is capable of depriving the individual from his or her basic human right. (Women Aid Collective 2004) added that domestic violence is a form of bullying whereby a person is dealt with physically, thus resulting to injury on the victim just because the perpetrator does not know of any other way to handle the situation.
Domestic violence is an essential component of gender-based violence which has been defined as those actions that cause physical, psychological and emotional harm to a person just because of a misunderstanding (Ityavyar in Okeph, 2005).
Domestic violence takes many forms including physical, sexual, psychological, emotional and economic. Despite Nigeria’s constitutional vows to eliminate discrimination and violence against women and promote the idea of freedom, equality and justice, Nigerian womens’ rights are often violated with impunity. While domestic violence is a violation of fundamental human rights, which the Nigerian Constitution is against, there are still provisions that make it legal to engage in domestic violence against women. The provision of the Penal Code applicable in the Northern part of Nigeria specifically encourages violence against women. Underneath its provisions, the beating of a wife for the purpose of correction is legal by use of (Section 55 (1) (d) of the Penal Code). The CLEEN Foundation reports 1 in every 3 respondents to a survey conducted by them admitting to being a victim of domestic violence. A woman who is abused in her family, has very low chances to get protection from law. In most cases the victim of domestic violence is mistreated by law and dehumanized by society.
There is a deep cultural belief in Nigeria that it is socially acceptable to hit a woman to discipline a spouse. Domestic violence is widespread and shows no signs of lessening in Nigeria.