On domestic Violence – What’s love got to do with it? by Tunde Adeleye

Over the past weeks this year, I have been repulsed, sickened and angered at the relentless spate of physical attacks on women by their husbands in Nigeria. Some of these hapless women have been battered senselessly. In some cases, some husbands even doused their wives with petrol and set their wives ablaze causing them to suffer 3rd degree burns on their bodies.

Last year, a newly wed wife was severely beaten by her brutal husband, she died as a result. Her husband fled the scene, but was later apprehended. Recently, a high society woman was brutally hacked to death mercilessly by a man, after which he jumped off a tall building to his own death.

Another wife and mother of three children, died as a result of neglect, regular beatings by her husband and health complications. Yet another wife was severely battered by her husband that her face looked like the aftermath of a car wreck. In an inhumane act that can best be described as the height of beastiality, another wife of a policeman had her fingers severed (although later stitched back) following an argument.

Unconfirmed reports alledge that the battered wife and the wife of the severed fingers, later returned home to their respective husbands.

Obviously since most of these attacks take place behind closed doors, it is apt to place it under « domestic violence » – which may, on occasions, also include marital rape, amongst others.

I am sure the stats will not do justice to the real aggregate number of spousal abuse across the country. Although it stands to reason that the figures will reveal a substantially majority of women who have been subjected to abuse, emotional or physical by their husbands.

Regrettably, a lot of women still remain in abused relationships and keep silent about it, insisting rather gullibly that they love their husbands and would prefer to stay for the sake of their children – a pitiable mistake many of our grand-mothers (even our parents) made when they endured years of extensive emotional and physical abuse in the hands of our grand-fathers.

Another often cited excuse by women who suffer domestic violence is that they due to their low self esteem, they are afraid to start all over again if they leave their husbands whom they are dependent on financially.

Be that as it may, it is only a few cases of domestic violence that make it to the limelight that provokes such a heated backlash, fury and widespread condemnation.

Unfortunately, by that time, the woman may be dead as a result of the injuries she sustained. If she’s lucky to be alive, she would have been beaten to a pulp such that her face and bones structures becomes contured and re-arranged – her once beautiful face disfigured; her self esteem destroyed; her being, psychologically traumatised and her scars; a painful and permanent reminder of the many years of prolonged abuse.

What would make a man maltreat his wife whom he professed to love till eternity? I still juggle for answers in my head and none seems to make any rational sense.

On the surface, women are considered the weaker sex. But men who hit their women for any reason are the real weaklings. However, before they do that, most men assert their control in the home, by ensuring that their wives obey them at all times. Since they are deluded, they reason that leadership is a one way process that needs to be enforced at all costs. That way they believe they are in control at all times.

In their short-sighted questionable wisdom, they believe women are truly meant to be submissive to men, by mal-treating them and treating them like door mats. However, in their folly they forgot the biblical injunction that men ought to love their wives as Christ loved the church.

Once these men begin to lose grip of their authority when the wife becomes confrontational, such men reason foolishly that the only way to regain that authority is to hit out violently.

However, by doing so, they haven’t in effect regained that authority. They have in the real sense of the word, lost control of it. For when a man boldly questions that « Don’t you know, I am the head of this house? », in reality, they never were, otherwise they wouldn’t raise the question in the first place.

Any man who treats his wife with respect, love, dignity and care will attract the same measure back from his wife since it is in the nature of women to multiply what is given to them.

For example, if a man sows love, he will attract it back in so many ways. For this kind of man, he need not declare boldly that he is the man or head of the house. His leadership qualities will shine through unannounced, but recognised all the same without him resorting to violence.

In itself, violence is a result of loss of control not usually supported by logic. It is only a beast who acts outside the realm of rationality that leads to brutality, that is referred to as an animal. Some men belong to this category. For an animal has no control over their behaviour or emotions, nor care much about the consequences of their actions. Yet, even animals have rights against cruelty by humans.

Men who violently abuse their wives can quite rightly be referred to as animals no matter the clear distinction, for that is precisely what they are. Since there is a generally
accepted universal law that protects the fundamental human rights of individuals, this should include and cover areas of assault and grievous bodily harm (GBH), as well as child and spousal abuse, amongst others.

I challenge any man who is a wife beater to be present when his wife gives birth live and see the agonising pain they go through. I equally challenge such men to take a back sit and recount all the good qualities God has bestowed on a woman, knowing fully well that they have a mother and in some cases, a sister as well as a daughter. Not content, I also challenge them to seek help for the demon that has possessed them, due to the unacknowledged fact by them that they are mentally sick, deranged and should be confined within the four walls of Yaba LEFT – (a Mental home).

For the time being, I propose that a sex offenders and domestic violence offenders database should be collated. Given the flexibility of the Freedon of Information Act (FoI), women can access the database during courtship and before they head towards the altar with any man.

In addition, I would also want to see laws enacted to protect women who are abused, and the perpetrators prosecuted and given long term prison sentences. I fervently pray that many of such cases should be assigned to a female judge with the possibility of an extended jail term a reality. Of course, the law should equally be protective of husbands who suffer domestic violence from their wives as well.

But this is Nigeria where shamefully nothing works. It is one thing to pass the appropriate laws, and quite another to implement them. We have allowed culture, and for the most part religion, to seduce us into thinking that men are superior to women.

As a result, in Nigeria, we live in a patriarchal male dominated society (which extends throughout Africa) where women are looked down upon by men, and at times spoken to and affronted in a disrespectful manner in public.

Not surprisingly, the misguided and intellectually lightweight concept that women are inferior to men rings shallow and continues to sound like a broken off beat record. Some men simply need to wake up from their slumber and smell/drink the coffee. The truth is cold and bitter, but it has never been unhealthy when swallowed. We are in the 21st century and not in the dark ages. How many cases of accomplished women have we heard whose singular worth and value is immeasurably better than 20 able men?

For all intents and purposes, how many men have spoken out against domestic violence or child abuse in our society? This is a serious subject matter that needs to be on the radar of national discourse. Yet, I don’t see that happening. Unknown to them, it could be the turn of their sisters, or daughters who are physically abused. What then?

Truth be told, wife beaters
do not deserve to be called men. They inadvertently give other good men a bad name. Clearly too, they are a bad advertisement for fatherhood, for which daughter in her right senses would pray that her abusive father will be a role model for her future husband to be?

I reserve my admonition lastly for women who remain in abusive relationships. The longer you remain, the more likely that your prince charming, will continue to harm you and not charm you any longer. It’s not about love anymore. That died ages ago. Ask Tina Turner. What’s love got to do with it? The beast has taken your self esteem, your freedom is possibly under lock and key as well. Was this the contract you signed for? When will it all end? NEVER – is the not too elusive answer.

As a woman, you are a jewel of inestimable value. A queen that deserves to be placed on a pedestal of love, respect and glory. For a beloved wife is the crown that adorns the head of her husband, if only the husband recognises and acknowledges this fact. You deserve no less than this. And the sooner you realise this, the better for your self worth.

To the wives who had the courage to escape the clutches of their abusive husbands, I say well done. I am sure it wasn’t easy, but you were brave to have done it. There’s nothing stopping you now from rebuilding your lives and starting over again.

To this end, and to safeguard the welfare of abused women, a lot of women need to be empowered educationally from the grassroots level. Lectures and talks need to be held in the schools, and public lectures given to rural women and taken to the mainstream corporate sector that domestic violence should not be tolerated in all its ramifications.

Most important of all, women should be enlightened that they should not be financially dependent on men. They should learn a trade from the various skills acquisition centres available to them. Added to this, they need to improve their personal development on a consistent basis which will enable them to be self sufficient and independent, which in return will improve their self worth and esteem.

No woman or man deserves to be subjected to spousal abuse. It is dehumanising, inexcusable, wholly unacceptable and downright barbaric in a supposedly civilised society as ours. Something needs to be done by the legislators to arrest this condemnable atrocity from spinning out of control. And very FAST too.

For more reading on spousal abuse, pls read the rather chilling and disturbing sad story of Late Mrs Ogochukwu Onuchukwu. Pls get your hankies ready.

Letter from the grave

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