Sunday, 3 July 2016

Wave of domestic violence

Written by the Editorial board of The Guardian Newspaper

It is quite understandable that the shock, which trailed the killing of a Lagos housewife, Ronke Shonde, allegedly by her husband, Lekan Shonde, in the Egbeda area of the state remains as devastating as it was when the incident first occurred. The outrage over it was still at boiling point when another man, James Kafaru, reportedly slashed his wife, Roseline’s throat while she was asleep in their rented apartment at Araromi Street in Oshodi, Lagos, thus compelling a serious examination of what may be snapping in the Nigerian family.

These two incidents and several others like them, coming in quick succession, have brought to the front burner the curious rise in cases of domestic violence across the country and the need for something to be done urgently.

Ronke Shonde, a mother of two, in her mid-thirties, was found dead in their home located on Tiemo Close, off Awori Street, on that fateful Friday morning. The alleged killer-husband, who has now been arraigned, fled after reportedly beating his wife to death. The Lagos State police command then launched a manhunt for Shonde, which led to his arrest by operatives of the Rapid Response Squad (RRS).

He had reportedly accused his wife of open infidelity and in anger, assaulted her. He indeed alleged that his wife of eight years was dating the general manager of a publishing company, an accusation, which Ronke’s family denied.
The Oshodi incident involving the Kafaruswas more bizarre but unlike Shonde who disappeared after killing Roseline’s husband, James, did not run away after slaughtering his wife.

In Kano, the step-mother of a two year-old boy reportedly broke his two arms, legs, cut his tongue, and plucked out his right eye. The boy was rushed to the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital for treatment where he is now gasping for life.

Reports say the boy’s mother and father had been separated. And for yet unknown reason, the step-mother into whose care he was put harmed the innocent boy in the most horrific manner.

Something seems to have gone amiss in the average Nigerian family. Deep-seated hatred and anger have replaced love and care such that at the slightest provocation, loved ones even unleash violence on each other, even taking each other life.

The reports are legion and each seems to outdo the other on the scale of horror! Husbands are killing their wives. Wives are killing husbands. Women are brutalizing housemaids. Fathers are raping their daughters and housemaids. Minors are being sexually abused. There are no boundaries of violence yet uncrossed and, certainly, there appears to be a total breakdown of those cherished family values for which Nigerians are known. Too many homes are now in tension.

There may be socio-economic factors behind the wave of violence. Problems could come from the extended family, friends and relations in circumstances where the tolerance level is low or the scope of personal understanding is limited. The economic realities of today are also taking their toll on many homes. Unemployment and poverty bite very hard. These days, many homes have women as the breadwinners, which causes serious tension where there is no love and understanding from the husband.

In some cases, the men are unemployed and some men, in the circumstance, cannot live down the change of role without feeling threatened.

The progress women have made in different fields of endeavour has also led to a clash of values in such a male-chauvinistic society as ours. Women are also deservedly getting more assertive and don’t mind being independent. But for men who are insecure, this is enough ground for violence. In the modern era, young people live a different life-style in which the social media has revolutionized human behaviour and there is little emotional commitment in most relationships.

Money alone rules. For many, it doesn’t matter if a young girl lives off a rich old man. And some young boys, too, live off rich much older women. The moral fibre is broken and no one can comprehend the level of the rot in the society.

The churches, mosques, other faith based societies and schools should, therefore, see these declining family values and the ensuing violence as a challenge. A renewed drive for societal re-orientation is, therefore, imperative to curb the raging wave of violence in the Nigerian home.

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