Domestic violence has its roots buried deep in various societies across the world of which Nigeria is no exception. As a matter of fact, reports reveal that domestic violence in the country seems to be on the rise. Both the government and the Nigerian society have not paid the required level of attention to the problem of domestic violence which families from different social, educational, economic and religious backgrounds go through in several unimaginable ways. Women continually suffer domestic violence irrespective of their social status, age, class, tribe or religion all over the world.

According to a 2007 Amnesty International report, a third and in some cases, two-thirds of Nigerian women are believed to have been subjected to sexual, psychological and of course, physical abuse meted out by close relations; husbands, fathers or partners. In traditional African societies, domestic violence functions as a means of enforcing conformity with the roles women play within the customary society. The husband is regarded as the head of the family and is responsible for maintaining order in his household. It is then perceived that he has every right to “discipline” his child (ren) and his wife if the need arises. This is terribly reprehensible.

Several reasons amount to the sky-rocketing increase of domestic violence in the country. One of such is the “culture of silence”, inherent in Nigeria especially among uneducated, less independent women, which hinders victims from speaking out in their abusive relationships. These women dread the stigma associated with divorce and the forced independence they fear will follow if they ever choose to seek help and instead, resort to silence. This act of ignorance only gives the perpetrators more room to carry out their heinous acts and revel in sheer inhumane manipulations.

domesticviolence2A victim of domestic violence for ten years, Mary Akangbe, shares her experience in an abusive marriage outside the country with me during my radio show Heart Matters on Splashfm105.5 Ibadan. She explained that she got married to a Nigerian in London and suffered her first blow of abuse just six months into their marriage at the time when she was pregnant with their first child. Mary admitted that though her ex-husband was a “helpless romantic” before their marriage, she did notice some ill-behaviour she thought would change over time which apparently didn’t. Mary then resorted to finding help from religious leaders at the church whom she claimed only advised on getting closer to God through incessant prayers and fasting. This, she said only kept her in the marriage for much longer than necessary.

Mary’s marriage produced two sons she had to hide each time she suspected another episode of violence was about to brew. Now an author and CEO of a charitable organization, she says she always sent her children off to her friends’ homes in the neighbourhood during such ungraceful moments but couldn’t prevent them from witnessing the horrible scenes all the time. When her divorce eventually got through over ten years after her marriage, she put her sons through lots of counseling to re-orientate them towards the proper way of relation with members of the society, especially the opposite sex.

From Mary’s experience, it could be deduced that domestic violence knows no bounds. Generally, it is expected that in places like the West, there should be constant monitoring of women who may be going through some sort of violence but unfortunately, not every story gets told. Mary did reach out to friends and family too but according to her, they only showed concern towards the issue on the surface. No one chose to go in deep within to rescue her. Not because they didn’t want to, but they didn’t know how to.

Though the world today just might be sourcing for possible ways to put the menace of domestic violence to the overall psychological, sexual and physical balance of women away and appropriately punish the perpetrators of such crimes, the endangering effects of domestic violence on children seem to be totally ignored. Research reveals that children brought up in violent homes, without proper counseling, risk being violent themselves. The perception such children get about life may only be centred on cruelty, anger and frustration so much that it gets extremely difficult, and sometimes impossible, to make them see things otherwise. The end result of this poses a great threat to the overall development of any and every nation in various terms. Such children just may grow to replicate what they have witnessed in their own homes while others may completely go all out being bullies, robbers and worst case scenario, assassins.

Therefore, if domestic violence must be curbed, the government needs to put all necessary facilities in place to assist victims of domestic violence. This could be in form of comfortable shelter for victims in extremely dangerous situations. Law enforcement agencies must be readily available to swing into action and bring perpetrators to book. The society should, at all times, uphold the principle of gender equality and discourage all forms of gender discrimination. With the strong platform of the media, valuable contents and materials that would campaign against domestic violence should be pushed forward. This would enlighten the populace and paint a crystal clear picture distinguishing between what is right and wrong, what is ethical and what is morally and legally unacceptable.


The rape epidemic in Nigeria seems to be deepening its roots into our contemporary society due to many factors which fearfully, have become a norm, welcomed by the nation with open arms. Some of these factors no doubt include fear (of stigmatization), poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, corruption and a terribly slow judicial system. The prevalence of this phenomenon, which mostly affects children, calls to question the activities of certain agencies, set up with the sole aim of preventing the Nigerian child from any and all forms of abuse.

stock-photo-stop-child-abuse-sign-words-clouds-shape-isolated-in-white-background-121620967Apparently, child molestation can be said to be the new dimension to rape incidences in the country as the media, on a daily basis, headlines no less than a rape story involving victims which most times are children. Just like other states in Nigeria with increasing records of child molestation, Oyo state is no different. Section 34 (1) of the Child’s Right Law of Nigeria, 2006, domesticated by the Akala’s administration in the state has it that “No person shall have sexual intercourse with a child”. By the specification of this law, a child is a person who has not attained the age of eighteen.

A child subjected to labour is vulnerable to sexual abuse. Such is the story of 13 -year old Abike(not real name) who was left in care of her grandmother and made to hawk “eko” in the evenings. After being stalked for a while in her neighborhood by two men believed to be in their thirties, she was forced into an uncompleted building and was raped. Abike could have been left alone to deal with the trauma and stigmatization which in most cases, often resulted in depression, but she was taken in by Williams Marcus of the Child Protection Network, cared for and sheltered.

Sadly, the alarmingly slow legal system in the country has made it entirely difficult to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of this heinous crime who still freely roam the streets. Meanwhile, it is quite heart-warming to know that Abike has continued from where she left-off and has returned to school. But this one story is about Abike who was lucky to have gotten help. What happens to several other victims who have been left alone to bear this burden?

Then, here is another story of Tolani, a nine-year old, repeatedly molested by an “Alhaji” in her neighborhood who threatened death if she ever said a word to anyone about what transpired between them. With a late mother and a commercial motorcyclist father, no one had the time to take care or protect her from the evil machinations of Alhaji who lured her in to his apartment on Sundays and raped her. The girl with no knowledge about what was being done to her tries it out on a younger boy, a family friend of hers, and was caught in the act. Again, the perpetrator has not been made to pay for the committed crimes, due to the terribly slow judicial system in the country. The same Child Protection Network responsible for taking care of Abike (in the first story), does same for Tolani, and just like every other well-meaning Nigerian, they are concerned about how the law enforcement agencies in charge of such cases have done little or nothing at all to bring the perpetrators to book, to at least serve as deterrent to prospective abusers.

The Chairperson of the International Federation of Women Lawyers, FIDA, Oyo state chapter, Yetundestop-child-abuse-stop-child-abuse-23073274-400-311 Adegboye also agrees that the legal processes involved in the prosecution of a rape culprit is extremely slow. She explains that the initial process involved in reporting a rape case begins at the Police Station where an arrangement will be made for the victim to undergo medical examination. The charge is then forwarded to the Magistrate court which has no jurisdiction to try rape cases but could remand the suspect in police custody. The prosecutor is then ordered to present the charges to the Director of Public Prosecution in the Ministry of Justice, who originally bears the burden of attending to all major crimes coming in from literally every angle in the state. The ministry, after looking into these charges then tries to see if the suspect is liable to go through trail (or trails) in respective courts. The process in itself is tiring and while some prosecutors give up half-way into pressing these charges, the perpetrators, either with influence or affluence of find ways to escape trial by applying for bail at the High Court.

The Nigeria Police Force has a whole lot to do in a bid to ensure that the required punishment is meted out to the perpetrators of such grave crime by ultimately seeing the reported cases through to courts. Victims of rape should also help the police effectively carry out their legal duties by providing every bit of information they can make available to help in the investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators. The society also has a very important role to play in protecting her children from the seemingly inherent dangers by fishing out those responsible for such crimes and handing them over to the law enforcement agencies to follow-up on their prosecution.

Williams Marcus has called for the establishment of family courts which he says will see to the timely prosecution of abusers; most important are the child rapists, as it is the responsibility of the government at all levels to protect the child from acts that could negatively affect the child’s physical, sexual and mental well-being.

Parents and the society at large should also ensure they make themselves available at all times to provide all the necessary love, care, protection and support to and for their children.

The children of today are the leaders of tomorrow. We need to protect them.

Toyin Adepoju is an OAP at Splash FM, Ibadan.