Lagos State government adopts a two-pronged attack aimed at reducing the rate of domestic violence or completely eliminating its occurrence in the State
| By Chinwe Okafor | Aug. 19, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
HAMMED Arogundade, 34, had on June 27, received a call from Idowu Gabriel, his son’s boss, that there was a problem at the workshop. On getting to Gabriel’s mechanic shop, Arogundade was told that Qudus, his 13 year-old son, had broken into the house of one Apoti Lateef and attempted to steal. He took away his son and on getting home, tied him up and beat him with sticks, barbwire and other objects for about five hours until the boy became weak and died. When Arogundade realised that Qudus had died, he dug a shallow grave and buried him in front of his house at Alogba Estate area of Ikorodu, Lagos State. Arogundade was apprehended by the police in the late hours of the night for the crime. He later appeared before a magistrate’s court in Ebute Meta.
Similarly, Deborah Bassey, a three-year-old girl, was beaten to death by a 21-year-old Rebecca Bassey, for vomiting and defecating on herself. Deborah a niece to Rebecca’s husband, was staying with the couple at Ijaiye Ojokoro, Lagos, when the incident happened on July 22. The matter was later reported to the police. Also, Ginika Ndubuisi, a housewife and mother of two, had been sent to an early grave on June 13.
Ndubuisi confronted Adindu, her husband on his incessant infidelity and he responded to his wife’s allegations by beating her mercilessly. She sustained severe bruises and this led to her bleeding profusely because she was due for child delivery. He left her in a pool of blood in the full glare of her children at their Sabo Oniba residence, Lagos State. Ndubuisi was taken to the hospital in the company of some friends and she died two days after with her unborn baby. The matter was later reported to the police.
These are just few cases of domestic violent which occur every day in Nigeria. The media are inundated with similar reports against children and women. These have prompted the Lagos State government to take up the fight against domestic violence. It has also, started running awareness campaigns in the media, calling for reports on incidents of domestic violence to the police or the ministry of women affairs and poverty alleviation office.
Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, deputy governor and acting commissioner for women affairs and poverty alleviation, Lagos State, said that the state government was determined to do everything within its powers to eliminate domestic violence against women and girls as well as protect child’s rights by strengthening laws protecting them.
She said that the unacceptable incidence of violent crimes against women and children was becoming rampant in the society and that government at all levels should take drastic measures against the crude act in order to bring peace to the society. According to her, violence against women and children had become one common way by which human rights are violated with negative consequences on families and the society at large.
Available statistics have shown that 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by their intimate partners each year worldwide, and that 85 per cent of the victims suffer physical injury, depression, low self esteem, trauma, stress and other health related problems, including death. In such cases, Orelope-Adefulire said children also get hurt when they see their mother being maltreated, yelled at, pushed or hit. This, she said, has made public education and enlightenment campaign imperative in order to tackle the problem.
“As part of the Lagos State government’s efforts to tackle the menace, my ministry in collaboration with the Office of Public Defender of the state ministry of justice is working together to ensure that culprits are apprehended and justice done at no cost to the victims. The state, through the Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation and the Ministry of Justice, have provided free legal services to women and children whose rights have been violated, while offenders are being sanctioned; we have also established homes for victims of domestic violence and they serve as temporary abode for victims of violence before they are reconciled with their families,” she said.
In the same vein, Funmi Falana, national leader and chairperson, Women Empowerment and Legal Aid, WELA, said violence against women in public and domestic life had continued to increase, as cases of rape and spousal murder had also become very rampant in the society. “Domestic violence in most cases are being perpetrated against women and children and sometimes men in the hands of their wives but the common forms of violence in the home are perpetrated by males who are in positions of trust, intimacy and power over the female partner, like husbands, boyfriends, fathers, fathers-in-law and mothers-in-law, step fathers and step mothers, uncles, among others,” Falana said.
According to her, some causes of domestic violence could be traced to exposure to violent movies, high temperament of the husband or the wife as the case may be, lack of understanding between the couple, lack of tolerance, incompatibility of the spouses, stress from work and even the daily chores of life.
To redress such situations, Joe Odumakin, a medical doctor and human rights activist, has resorted to counseling and provision of cares. Odumakin, said that she receives an average of three cases in a week in her clinic. Sometimes, she said she resorted to an alternative dispute resolution mechanism to settle the cases if the level of injury is not severe or if the abuser is a first offender. In this regard, not less than 300 cases were settled amicably between January 2011 and May 2013. About 20 cases of rape and grievous injury are still pending in court while another three cases would be going to the law court soon. She said it is difficult to determine the extent of domestic violence in Nigeria because of lack of official statistics of violence at home and more so, some cases incidents of domestic violence are not reported.
“The law of prohibition of violence against human persons exists in Lagos State and its provisions, if well implemented, will surely deter or reduce domestic violence. There is a low awareness of the law among stakeholders in Lagos State. A lot of people are not familiar with the law and its provisions. Also the Chief Justice’s office which is bequeathed with the responsibility of implementing the law, needs to be up and doing in its role of ensuring that the law is fully implemented. But I am sure that with adequate awareness and full implementation of the law, incidence of domestic violence in Lagos will reduce or be stopped entirely in the state,” she said.
The United Nations has also recognised domestic violence and its problems. Hence, it set aside November 25, as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The day is an opportunity for the UN and other non-governmental organisations to convene and focus on ways to tackle the social menace.