Finding Her Voice; Finding happiness.

Tag Archives: domestic violence

Society thinks she has to endure, even unto death.

I did not want to start this year whinning about Violence Against Women (VAW) but I’m so annoyed right now.

Between yesterday and today, I’ve read two stories from wives who were almost battered to death by their husbands respectively. My heart bleeds. My heart bleeds that a human being would want to hurt another who is obviously not as strong as he is and for what reason?

 Both women have been enduring these violence for many years, both have kids with these so called husbands. Which is probably why they stayed on, hoping that they would change, but instead they get worse. Worse to the point that one locked his wife up in a room for two days after beating her to stupor, so that she cannot get outside help. He confiscated her phone too. I’m so spitting mad, Kai!

Now, when both issues came up for discussion, women, WOMEN for goodness sakes, were encouraging these ladies to pray and endure! Duhh. One suggested we hear from both sides before we can judge. What is there to judge abeg? Who is even talking of judging right now? What could a man who intentionally set out to murder his wife tell us? He did not stop at hitting her with matchetes and sticks but had to isolate her to await her death. What could possibly justify that behaviour?

These women have been married for like ten years each, four and three kids respectively. The battering did not start last week or last month. It has been going on for as long as they were in that marriage. Why stay? For the sake of your kids? For fear that society will see you as a failure or a wayward woman? Or because you have no family to run to? One of these ladies said that the first time she ran to her father’s house with her kids, that her dad sent her back on the grounds that he has received bride price and drank wine on her head. Therefore he cannot harbour them. What is that?

Maybe I’m feeling this way because I am single. Maybe I have no right to advice anyone on this issue, but I’m gonna say my mind anyway.

  1. PLEASE ladies, this is your life, it has no duplicate and you have the power, in fact, you are mandated by God to protect it. I do not think God will shake your hands if you die at the hands of a husband. Protect your life!
  2. Seek outside help from reputable Non Governmental Organisations, from the judiciary and from the law enforcement agencies if you are a victim, before it is too late .
  3. It is best to get yourself empowered no matter how little so that if push gets to shove, you can pick up your life and sojourn on your own.
  4. There is no worthwhile reason to stay on in an abusive relationship because if you die, people will find some other topic to gossip about. They will pity you at death and what use is that? Besides, if you die or become vegetable, what do you think will happen to your children?
  5. As for those on lookers that believe the victims should stay on in the marriage just because it is supposed to be for better for worse contract, I salute una! While you encourage her to endure and pray, be a little more realistic. That man is not going to change. He will make promises, he will beg and plead, he is still same inside.

Sisters please take control of your lives and your children. If we do not take care of ourselves, who will? NOBODY!

All images are courtesy of shutterstock

For more on one of the cases, visit


The first abnormality we noticed on her face as she walked towards us was the swollen right eye, but when she made to sit down, my friend and I could not help but notice the painful way she sat down even though she tried to hide it. So Clara my garrulous friend asked suspiciously,
“Babe, what happened to you, did you fight?” Chy looked from Clara to me as we both stared at her. Feigning innocence, she asked,
“What do you mean? Me ke, get involved in a fight?”
“So what’s with the swollen eye?” I asked in confusion.
“Oh, this?” Chy asked, gingerly touching the swelling. “Was it not this power holding people, they took the light and as I wanted to go get the torchlight, I bumped into the door frame.”

A couple of weeks after that, Chy visited Clara and I in the apartment we shared. This time, the bruises were more pronounced, her story was that she lost her footing while climbing down the stair case and fell down.
“I hope that guy you started seeing that you do not want to introduce to us is not hitting you Chy?” Clara probed.
Of course she denied it, but this time, we knew better than to believe the cock and bull story. However, matters came to a head when one weekend, about a month later, Chy rushed into our apartment with an overnight bag. She looked like she was run over by a truck. It was then that she narrated her story to us. She started dating this guy who seemed matured and responsible, different from the usual students her friends dated. They fell in love with each other and before you can say ‘jack Robinson’, she had moved out of the hostel and moved in with him.

Within months however, the guy became too jealous and over protective, monitoring her every move. Any form of communication with another male results in abuse. He started with verbal and financial abuse till he graduated to sexual and physical abuse.

This guy somehow traced Chy to our house, threatening all of us if we do not let her come back to him. It took the intervention of neighbours to get him to leave. The baffling part is that a few days after this incident, we came back from lectures and Chy was nowhere to be found. Fearing that the guy might have done something bad to her after calling her on the phone several times without any response, we began to run helter-skelter. We didn’t even know the guy’s house. It was later in the night when we had tried all avenues to no avail that she answered her call, informing us that she had gone back to the guy’s house, she had been missing him, blah, blah, blah.

Clare warned her not to come near our house again if he should beat her up again, but she did come few weeks later, more battered and broken than the previous occasions. We mended her as much as we could and the guy came again but this time, we were ready for him. We had informed his course mates and they dealt with him but he continued stalking and harassing her to the point that we had to get Chy’s Dad and the school authorities involved.

My question now is: Why did she keep going back to him despite the threats to her life and everything? Is it really love? The battered woman syndrome? Fear? Or just for peace to reign?
Another friend of mine told me that she has become so used to dating guys that abuse her to the point that if one did not abuse her, it seemed to her that they were not man enough and I was like really?

Is it possible that some women are wired to like abusive men and abusive relationships? I know scientists and psychologists say it is fear and battered woman syndrome, but to wish it upon oneself? Going through it over and over again, condoning it? Makes little sense to me.

Besides, why would a guy abuse someone he claims to love to the point of beating her up?

Maybe it is another shade of love…?

Nigeria is signatory to most of the international instruments like that of CEDAW and UNICEF on violence against women. Yet these obnoxious practices against women have persisted over the years because they are often neglected. The 1999 population reports asserted that these practices are most pervasive, yet least recognized human rights abuses in Nigeria. The gains from these practices {if any} pale in comparison to the disadvantages, yet they are still perpetuated to a great extent, our sophistication and all notwithstanding. For instance, one wonders why sane and sometimes learned parents would send their ten year old daughter into marriage to a man of sixty who already has four wives. Why (with the help of women themselves) should the elders of the land force the widow to drink the water washed off her husband’s corpse and made to carry the corpse to ‘evil’ forest or some other such stuff? Why the girl child is forced to undergo circumcision, trafficked abroad for God knows what, denied access to her late father’s property? Who benefits from such barbarism and to what extent does these justify carrying out these obnoxious acts?
United Nations in 2006 observed that;

“ Every day, women all over the world are abducted into forced marriages, subjected to harmful traditional practices, married while still children to far older men… Every year, the plight of these women is too often ignored, consigned to the back pages of newspapers or relegated to no more than a passing mention in mainstream broadcast – if at all”.

Most regions in Nigeria are notorious for one or more of these practices. In the East, the terrors of widowhood rites and male child preference are prevalent. Apart from the physical abuses associated with these rites, most times the family’s possessions are confiscated from them especially in the absence of a male child. I can fully attest to this as a victim. Having lost my dad at the age of nine, I can still recall the scraping of hair, the seclusion and isolation, surrounded only by the daughters of the land {umuada}, most of whom were strangers to us. I remember my mother hugging me over and over so tightly as if her life depended on that contact and to assure herself that I was still there, the only part of her that was still same. However, this was just a tip of the iceberg. After my Dad’s burial, we started losing our possessions to these uncles of mine, from household items to land, houses until it got to the point where we no longer had a roof over our heads when we visit the village. Of course, you are wondering why we should stand and do nothing. No, there were series of meetings to demand, plead with these people to desist from this wickedness, but then, mum has no male issue so there was no case. The Lawyer hired was able to only secure a parcel of land temporarily; after all, there is no man to inherit it and there was no will.

In the North, child marriage is the order of the day. These children, some of them attend primary school from the husband’s house! These child-wives are not physically nor mentally equipped to take on this task which it seems society has pushed them into. More often than not, this results in wife battering since the girl child cannot live up to expectations. Of course, the greatest challenge here is V.V.F.,( Vesico vagina fistula) and other such health complications which turns some of these kids into social nuisance loitering the streets because they have become outcasts. There was the recent case of the small girl in Northern Nigeria who poisoned her would-be husband and his cohorts to death in protest. What I fail to understand is how a mother who passed through this ordeal will allow her child to be subjected to same, but then again, she is underpowered, thus has limited options.
Female Genital Mutilation {FGM}, erroneously tagged female circumcision is practiced more in the South though paradoxically; the operation tends to take more extreme form in the North. FGM involves cutting of whole or parts of the female sexual organ. The agonizing part is that older women themselves inflict this torture on the younger ones, inadvertently, to please the men folk since the practice is believed to enhance fidelity. The relationship between fidelity and mutilation beats me. In fact, research has revealed that FGM is neither therapeutic no reasonable, the beliefs are mere assumptions and thus, baseless.

The commonest of all forms of violence against women is domestic violence. So many women suffer so much pain in their homes through battering, rape and its attendant psychological trauma in the hands of their husbands. Homes that are supposed to provide refuge and peace becomes house of horror, yet they endure because marriage is for better for worse. What type of upbringing will children from a family where the father indecently assaults and batters their mother have? Can there ever be genuine justification for this atrocity? But because it is a woman, it doesn’t really matter; after all, it is the man’s world.

The consequences of all these harmful practices spills over to not just the immediate family but the society at large, thus the need for all hands to be on deck to stop these menace. Chances of HIV/AIDS are increased, broken homes resulting in churning out of miscreants, perverts who molest members of the society, become rampant, maternal and child mortality rate is increased and then the silent killer of psychological stress. These erroneous beliefs could be summarized as economic vulnerability, dependence and ignorance. Nevertheless, women should arise and stand up to men and the society. Why aid the man to torture fellow women, why keep mute and wait to be butchered to death? There are NGO’s and such organizations as FIDA – International Federation of Female lawyers, Widows Development Organization {WIDO}, that are always available to assist women in such predicaments as these.
Nigerian women will remain unsung, unknown, unappreciated, unrewarded and subjugated until we are able to rise up and say no. It is our battle, our fight and it must start from us before we start looking out for outside help.
Men! Please make provision for the future. You may think you have the best brothers and sisters and uncles but please, the Bible says that the heart of man is dangerously evil. Protect your family by writing a will. If you belong to the school of thought that believes the wife is not worthy of inheriting your property, please do it for your children, bequeath the world you think you posses to them if that will make you feel better. No one knows tomorrow.

The Nigerian government should do well to implement the contents of these legal instruments. Passing bills is just not enough, implementation is the key word
here, action and more action is needed. The bureaucratic tapes should be reduced. Law enforcement agencies should help in enforcing these laws rather than treat victims like culprits.
The media as agenda setters can do well to use that power in reporting and safeguarding the ‘weaker sex’.
I leave you with the words of Daniel Defoe

“For I cannot think that God Almighty ever made them (women) so delicate, so glorious creatures; and furnished them with such charms, so agreeable and so delightful to mankind; with souls capable of the same accomplishments with men; and all, to be only stewards of our houses, cooks and slaves”.

Ragazza Triste

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