A few days ago I read a link to an article from a Women's NGO site regarding the brutal beating inflicted by a Nigerian diplomat on his wife. (http://women-news.org/2011/10/20/jonathan-reinstates-wife-beating-kenyan-ambassador-dr-chijioke-wilcox-wigwe/).
If the pictures are anything to go by, the physical injuries which the Ambassador's wife accused him of inflicting on her were clear evidence of domestic violence. To describe her condition in the local lingo commonly used for badly-beaten people - she was used as a punching bag…and worse.
Studies revealed that such kind of violence are not documented in Nigeria because of widespread tolerance of violence against women: "once a woman is married, she is expected to endure whatever she meets in her matrimonial home." The study went as far as stating that half of Nigeria’s women are victims of domestic violence.
Some members of their families and within their communities subject countless women and girls in Nigeria to violence, as in many countries throughout the world. Such incidents are difficult to document, the violation being done in the privacy of what is supposed to be called a home. However, studies also suggest that the levels of violence are high. More than a third and in some groups nearly two-thirds of women in Nigeria are believed to have experienced physical, sexual or psychological violence in the family.
In 2007, the Lagos State House of Assembly passed abill "to provide protection against Domestic Violence and for Connected Purposes." The Law was specifically aimed at protecting the victims of domestic violence. However, spreading awareness down to the households in Nigeria was also a problem. To help address this, Women Empowerment and Legal Aid (WELA), a non-government organization (NGO), initiated a move to make homes aware of their civil rights and for organisations and lawyers to utilize the law to arrest domestic violence in Nigeria. (source: Abdulwahab Abdulah of Vanguard)
It’s sad that those we expect to protect us are sometimes the very people involved in the crime…our own family-members or even the police. Fear and shame and the cultural belief that men are the dominant members in the family often drive the victimized women to the point of suffering in silence. Nigeria is just one of many developing countries where women are expected to be submissive and uncomplaining.
It is where NGOs like DeltaWomen, World Pulse and other cause-oriented organizations involved in protecting and promoting women’s rights in particular, come in. They bring awareness to the world and help move governments and their citizens to recognize the problem and do something about it.
The road to achieving this is by no means easy but it is moving and the number is growing that can put pressure to governments like Nigeria to seriously address the problem.