By Furere Bagel, PhD.
In the year 2016, her husband in a fit of rage murdered a relation of mine just because she failed to return home on time from a naming ceremony she attended to prepare his evening meal. After committing that heinous crime, in attempts to cover his tracks, he dragged her body and dumped it into a well outside their compound. He later reported that she decided to jump into the well because she was very upset.
Unfortunately, their 4 year old daughter saw all that transpired and told relatives of how her father repeatedly banged her mother’s head on a wall and in panic he even called out her name several times after she slumped down. In this harrowing and terrifying experience no child should go through, she narrated further that when her mother couldn’t respond, he dragged her outside the compound to dispose the body into the well before calling the attention of people around.
This particular violent crime did not get the relevant media coverage just like many other under-reported and unreported cases often involving fatalities. Even the local media outlets neither aired any part of the story nor was there any journalistic or criminal investigations beyond his trial and sentence in a magistrate court for the act. More frustrating is the absence of child support groups that offer psychosocial care to victims of such trauma like his daughter. Sadly this is the current reality of how insensitive domestic violence has become in a society that condones cover-ups.
He is still serving time, though he would have been paroled, because of a ‘pardon’ by some of her patrilineal uncles who appropriated themselves as her guardians since her own parents are dead. The attempt was squashed thanks to some courageous relations amongst the family who saw that justice was served.
Domestic violence is not a new phenomenon in Nigeria, especially when it is being perpetrated against women. It has become almost a norm for some husbands to beat and batter their wives or even girlfriends although this does not discount some reversed isolated cases where men are also victims.
A recent study on Women who faced physical violence in the hands of their family members or relations, the most common forms of physical violence include rape, murder, and battery leading to injuries or sometimes-even death.
Some reasons given for these physical abuses include violence under the influence of alcohol in men who indulge, socioeconomic issues such as financial instability and to some extent conjugal misdemeanors like rejection of a partner’s sexual advances.
There has been a steady rise in reported cases of domestic violence in Northern Nigeria recently, and questions begging for answers are simply. Piling up; Is there any significant rise in domestic violence cases or is there an attitudinal or cultural shift about disclosures of such crimes due to the proliferation of digital and mobile internet access which enabled reaching wider audiences than conventional channels? Has there been any impact of work carried out by community and faith based organizations on the need for justice for victims and punishment for perpetuators?
Why are those crimes attracting more attention now more than before? Could it be due to the fact that they differ greatly from those we have been used to, just like the case of Maryam Sanda who is being accused of killing her husband Bilyaminu due to excessive jealousy? No other case has gotten such media attention in recent years.
Could it also be that society’s perception about men’s violence on women as almost normal or acceptable no longer makes it shocking or newsworthy? Similarly are the occurrences of the reverse of these acts by a woman on man rare to be considered not newsworthy?
Whatever the case is, there are reported cases of rise in domestic violence in northern Nigeria and that needs to be addressed before it becomes another monster this region and the country in general has to contend with. But for the monster to be destroyed, we need find its head and cut it off.
Those issues mostly occur when couples fail to understand that marriage is about love, respect and commitment not just a one-day ceremony or a fantasy they have in their heads. Couples need to be truthful about their exact situations in life to their partners.
There are people out there who have perfected the art of seduction through deception. They lure young girls with wealth they don’t possess only for the girls to find out when it is too late. By the time they realize they have been fooled trouble starts, which usually leads to altercations, Sometimes violent ones and then to divorce. Usually these kinds of men are serial divorcers.
There are also girls who deceive men about attributes they don’t naturally possess like using an artificial hair bun popularly termed A cuci maza to trick men into believing they have a long mane of hair. The most dishonest are those using padded underwear such bras and false plastic bottoms in convincing men on their well endowed areas of attraction even when they might perhaps be the complete opposite.
Sadly, those kind of girls fail to realize that they are actually committing crimes and playing with serious emotions by these acts of deceptions, in relation to the notion that all men have their preferences in women and in many cases would love to settle down with the kind of woman they really want. Imagine their shock and grief when they discover they have been duped! Of course that love would turn to hate.
Just last week a colleague of mine told us a story of how a friend of his recently got married to a girl he thought was well endowed, and all his friends know that was his preference in a woman. Unfortunately, after the wedding, the man came to his friends crying that he had been duped because the woman he saw in his house had no difference with every man! Unfortunately, he had no choice but to divorce her.
There are other social issues regarding family life, contentment and peace, which have been difficult to maintain due to huge influence of the entertainment industry on lifestyles in the country. Couples trying to live a fake life fashioned after celebrities, which is far from their realities. That kind of marriage is doomed from the start.
There’s also the drug problem, which has become a catastrophe. Until the northern stakeholders wake up from their deep slumber concerning drug abuse, we will continue to witness gruesome drug induced crimes from the region.
Lack of empowerment is another factor, for when a woman is empowered financially; she hardly pays attention to what her husband does with his own money. She also does not exhibit severe jealousy towards her mates in a polygamous setting, because she would be busy doing her own thing and pursuing her goals to care. Unlike the Minna alleged murderess that allegedly killed her co-wife because the husband had asked the bride to bring her passport in preparation for Umrah.
The breakdown of traditional values, play important roles in contributing to this menace. In our culture, there is this concept of ɗa na Kowa ne meaning a child belongs to the whole community. Many of us grew up in polygamous homes with our mothers living like sisters and in many houses you can hardly guess which mother a certain child belongs to, because all the wives are mothers and do not discriminate between children.
Unfortunately, we have now found ourselves in a society where some of the wives cannot even tolerate each other enough to live under the same roof, and do not acknowledge and cannot afford to give love and care to children born by another woman, and we now have cases of women killing or mutilating their step children.
I sincerely pray those issues and many others that contribute to the rise of domestic violence in our homes are contained, though just like almajiranci and other menaces bedeviling the north, marriage related problems may continue to persist for a long time because the institution lacks the reform it needs from the government for that to happen.