In recent weeks, we have been bombarded by news of different events of domestic violence against women in Nigeria. These have either resulted in serious bodily harm to the woman or death. Just a few days ago, we were bombarded by news of the death of Mrs. Osinachi Nwachukwu, the lead singer in one of the biggest churches in Abuja. She was killed by her husband who is also not just a church-hoer but seen as a diligent and steadfast partner in the propagation of the ministry of Christ.
We have also heard and seen different episodes of the same violence from different parts of Africa. In Kenya, over 40% of married women have reported being victims of either domestic violence or sexual abuse by partners.
According to World Bank, “51% of African women say that being beaten by their husbands is justified if they either go out without permission, neglect the children, argue back, refuse to have sex, or burn the food”. This is very dangerous.
Let us be clear. Domestic violence or violence against women is not only prevalent in Africa. Numerous cases have also been reported in Europe. However, the cases in Africa seem to be downplayed and are usually ‘swept under the carpet’.
Here are five reasons why domestic violence will persist in Africa.
Religion: According to Karl Marx, religion is the opium of the people. It is what brings people closer to their creator. In Africa especially, religion is a major part of everyday life. It was widely reported that Mrs. Nwachukwu refused to alert authorities about her ordeal simply because she was afraid of ‘losing it all. What will the people say? How will the church react? How can I be separated from my husband? These are questions women will always have to ask themselves when caught in the web of abusive relationships. Religion sharply frowns against separation or divorce.
Culture; The African culture is deeply Patriarchal. It gives absolute control to the man to control and dominate the woman……..no questions asked. Whether mentally fit or not, the man should automatically dominate the woman. Whether it is at home, place of work, or place of religion. Men automatically come first. This cultural norm has taken domestic violence to an all-time high in recent times where more women seem to have liberated themselves and the menfolk do not want any of that.
Poverty: While this may be an overwhelmingly glaring issue in Africa generally, it’s a contributing factor to domestic violence in Africa. This is simply because the lack of financial capabilities has been shown to affect masculinity. The male ego is easily bruised when deemed financially incapacitated. The woman is suddenly no trusted because she is doing better financially. This also ties to the cultural cause where she has to ‘submit herself and her earnings’ to the lazy man.
Alcoholism: While this is certainly debatable, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that two-thirds of domestic violence victims have reported that their perpetrators were intoxicated at the time of the abuse. Also, 55% of domestic abuse perpetrators were drinking alcohol prior to assault.
Lack of Human rights and Government response: The lack of government response in tackling domestic violence is the overall factor that simply allows this issue to fester in different parts of Nigeria and Africa. The governments of different African countries are simply not doing enough to discourage this act. The knowledge that nothing gn will be done when reported has simply prevented many women from coming forward. This needs to be addressed. Also, women should be given more rights. It is not enough for certain government officials to ‘frown at it’. Justice needs to be served. The state need to take up these cases, see them to the end and make examples of men who feel power can only be demonstrated by the lifting of hands against women.
Written by John Ajayi (firstname.lastname@example.org)
All views in this article are those of the author and not Naijassador’s.