New Poll: Domestic Violence on the Increase

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Fight Against Domestic Violence(PHOTO: UNICEF)

A recent Public Opinion poll, stated in a press release today, conducted by NOIPolls in partnership with Project Alert on domestic violence has 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. Moreover findings from a similar poll conducted by NOIPolls in 2012 which revealed that 4 percent of the respondents were victims and 29 percent indicated they know victims of domestic violence, potrays an increase in the occurrence of domestic violence in Nigeria when these figures are compared to recent figures.

Only four states of the Federation, including Lagos, have passed laws against the insidious crime, whilst several bills gather dust at the National Assembly.

An evaluation of the causes of domestic violence in Nigeria revealed that Nigerians perceive ‘economic hardship’ (42 percent), ‘misunderstanding between couples’ (21 percent) and ‘impatience’ (9 percent) as the main causes of domestic violence in Nigerian homes. Furthermore, the poll revealed that 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’ (34 percent), 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).

While several individuals, civil society organisations and other relevant stakeholders have risen to fight against the prevalance of this evil in the Nigerian society, Nigerians have suggested that the fostering of mutual understanding in marriages and relationships as well as proper enlightenment on marriage amongst other suggestions will play critical roles in reducing the prevalence of domestic violence in Nigeria.

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.

By definition, domestic violence is the wilful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and other abusive behaviour as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse. Domestic violence in Nigeria is said to be on the increase. About 50% of women are said to have been battered by their husbands. Sadly, more educated women (65%) are in this horrible situation compared to their less educated counterparts (55%). Shockingly, a staggering 97.2% of them do not report the crime to the Nigeria Police. They endure and sometimes die in silence, believing that the law will not protect them.

There is also a prevalence of domestic violence against men, which has largely remained under-reported owing to its sensitive nature. In a study conducted by Dienye and Gbeneol, (2009) at the General Outpatient Department of the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, out of a total of 48 victims of domestic violence identified 5 (10.4%) were males. Children are also victims of domestic violence. UNICEF in May 2019 declared that about 60 per cent of children, that is, 6 in 10 children in Nigeria, suffer one or more types of violence before they reach the age of 18. Also, one in two suffers physical violence, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 10 boys suffer sexual violence, while 1 in 5 boys and 1 in 6 girls suffer emotional violence.

Experts link domestic violence to increasing poverty, drug abuse, and use of alcohol, traditional and religious laws which permit men to physically discipline their wife(s), personal dispositions and a raft of other reasons. Only four states of the Federation, including Lagos, have passed laws against the insidious crime, whilst several bills gather dust at the National Assembly. In the states where the law has been passed, it remains to be tested. There is however an urgent need for all the 36 states in Nigeria to put up some laws regarding domestic violence. A lot of victims suffer in silence owing to some factors like fear of divorce, death, shame etc.

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