The recent death of gospel singer Osinachi Nwachukwu brings to light the rising cases of domestic violence in the country.
As reported in the media, Osinachi had been subjected to repeated bodily assaults by her husband, Peter Nwachukwu, which led to her hospitalisation and eventual death at the National Hospital in Abuja.
The case of Osinachi is one of the many incidents of domestic violence which appear to be on the rise, raising concern among community leaders, stakeholders, government and the general public.
We commiserate with Osinachi’s family and urge the police to conduct a thorough investigation into the issue and also make public the report of its findings.
Domestic violence covers acts of body assaults inflicted on persons in the household which include spouses, children and domestic workers. Such acts involve physical violence, emotional intimidation, verbal abuse, rape, acid throwing and the like.
Statistics from surveys conducted indicate that the issue is not restricted to any one part of the country. The Kano State office of the National Human Rights Commission reportedly received 266 cases of domestic violence in the first quarter of this year. Similarly in Lagos State last year, 2, 584 cases were recorded.
The disturbing trend in this development is that as in the case of Osinachi, women constitute the main victims of domestic violence in the country.
Experts attribute this untoward development to the economic situation in the country which puts so much pressure on the family unit. As families find it difficult to meet with demands for the basic necessities of life in view of the prevailing harsh economic conditions, this results in tension between the spouses which often leads to sharp altercations.
The situation is also blamed on the breakdown of values and the excessive craving for material possessions by couples. In this regard, couples are under pressure to keep up with their peers in the acquisition of material things which they can scarcely afford, leading to tension and mistrust in the household. There is also the belief in some quarters that many people today get married for the wrong reasons and without really getting to know their partners before taking the plunge.
A report done by the Daily Trust Newspaper recently showed a disturbing trend in which so far a total of 51 spouses have been killed within the first quarter of 2022 in the country as a result of domestic violence. Out of this number, 36 are wives while 15 are husbands.
This indeed is alarming and calls for urgent action to stem the tide. Lamenting the situation, the Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen, recently said out of the 5, 100 cases of Gender-Based Violence (GBV), only 16 of such cases had been convicted. Mrs Tallen further complained that no allocations had been made to her ministry to fight GBV. She called for the implementation of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act passed by the National Assembly as a first step towards tackling the issue.
We believe that as it is a social issue that cuts across all strata of society and has nationwide implications, the approach to tackling it must also take a concerted effort by responsible parties.
While not agreeing with Mrs Tallen’s suggestion that couples who wished to get married must be subjected to psychiatric tests, we, however, believe that couples should be encouraged to go for periodic counselling by social workers where issues that often come up in their marriages are discussed and possibly resolved.
Community leaders and clerics must also be enlisted to advise couples on the virtues and moral foundation of marriage as a very important institution of our society which must be respected and upheld. There is a lot of emphasis on what women should do in matrimonial homes, but not so much with the men as it is usually assumed that the men will know how to handle their homes. Counselling should be for both men and women. Parents should place as much emphasis on the training of their male children as they do on the female children. We urge couples to also seek professional help when they notice crises in their marriages. In Nigeria, this is not common, but indeed there are persons trained to handle such issues and they could provide solutions. It is also important to enforce the Violence Against Persons Act, particularly for the most egregious cases involving death from domestic violence to serve as a deterrent to others.
It bears reminding that the family unit is the basic unit of a society’s foundation. It is where values are developed and imparted on individuals in their formative years to eventually grow and become responsible citizens. Indeed, we cannot separate the moral decadence in society today from the situation in homes, including domestic violence.
If Nigeria is to grow to the enviable status that we all wish it to be, we cannot afford to allow the family unit to get broken. All hands must be on deck to stem domestic violence.