The Lagos State Police Command, in its update late last year, confirmed the arrest of one Mrs Dorcas Oluwabukola for a disturbing incident—allegedly pouring scalding hot water on her husband. Her extreme action was purportedly triggered by his failure to let her accompany him to a wedding ceremony. Confirming the incident, SP Benjamin Hundeyin, the spokesperson of the Police Command, verified that the distressing occurrence took place on December 18, leading to the prompt arrest of the suspect at the Meiran Police station that very day.
The severity of Mrs. Oluwabukola’s response is undeniable. While the frustration over being left out of a wedding event might have fueled her actions, the use of scalding water as a means of grievance is grossly disproportionate and harmful.
The above is against the stereotype that domestic violence is mostly seen as synonymous with violence against women. Women are usually seen to be the victims of domestic violence, while men are seen as the perpetrators. In this current reality, however, most men continue to suffer in silence from their intimate partners.
Last year, the Lagos State Government through its Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency (DSVA) revealed 1,108 men to have reportedly been subjected to domestic abuse in six years.
Domestic abuse against men does occur despite the worldwide outcry against it in support of women. It manifests itself in diverse forms in almost every community. The level of secrecy, fear, and shame that follow abuse in families and relationships is a challenge for research attempting to characterize violence in terms of gender. For this reason, the majority of cases of domestic violence against men go unreported.
It is a reality in Nigeria that spouses can punch, slap, kick, deny their partner sex, and even commit murder. In a patriarchal society like Nigeria, talking about these experiences will damage men’s egos and expose them to mockery. Thus, men who find themselves in these situations choose to hide and avoid talking about it.
Section 18(g) of the Protection Against Domestic Violence Law of Lagos State, 2007, defines domestic violence to “mean physical abuse, sexual abuse exploitation including but not limited to rape, incest and sexual assault; starvation; emotional, verbal and psychological abuse; economic abuse and exploitation; denial of basic education; intimidation; harassment; stalking; hazardous attack including acid both with offensive and poisonous substance; damage to property among others.” It saddens Nigerian spouses to have turned all sorts of violence into their daily routine.
For justification purposes, however, statistics from various sources shed light on the pervasive issue of domestic and sexual violence in Lagos State. According to The Punch, reports from the Lagos State Government reveal an alarming tally of 5,624 cases of domestic and sexual violence within a year, emphasizing the urgent need for intervention and support mechanisms.
“From August 2022 to July 2023, the agency has received a total of 5,624 cases via the Virtual Referral and Response Service and physical report. The agency now receives an average of 250 clients on a monthly basis,” the Solicitor-General noted, adding “the youngest child that experienced sexual violence was an 18-month-old baby, whilst the oldest client that experienced domestic violence was a 79-year-old woman.”
Further reports from diverse sources, including Sahara Reporters, highlight the tragic outcomes of domestic conflicts, noting the alarming number of spousal deaths within a specific period. Instances where husbands and wives become perpetrators of violence against each other underscore the deeply concerning rise in domestic disputes resulting in tragic consequences.
Also, sometime in October last year, it was reported that a woman bathed her husband with hot oil while asleep over an argument. December last year too, a yet-to-be-identified man killed his wife over failure to cook his meal.
The growing prevalence of domestic violence emphasizes the crucial roles that the government, individuals, and law enforcement must play in ensuring public safety and order. However, amidst their duties, authorities must approach such cases with a steadfast commitment to safeguarding the rights and liberties of every citizen, irrespective of gender or marital status.
The rising tide of domestic violence demands concerted efforts from authorities and society as a whole. Some sections in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Violence Against Person’s Prohibition Act, 2015 should be amended. All gender-based violence laws and protection against domestic violence Acts need amendment, too.
Conclusively, the government needs to update the provisions of the law regarding domestic violence to be in line with emerging trends and occurrences. There is a need to embark on a more aggressive implementation of the provisions and engage in wider publicity and education of all stakeholders on their rights and the need to guard against domestic violence.
•Hammed Yusuf Baba is a writer and an ND Mass Communication graduate from The Federal Polytechnic Offa, Kwara state. He can be reached via: firstname.lastname@example.org