This post was written by volunteer blogger from Nigeria, Emepuru Albert SomkelechukwuA WRITER, YOUTH ACTIVIST, AND AN INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST.
According to Black Law Dictionary, domestic violence is a behavior used by one person in a relationship to control the other. It includes violence between members of a household or other violent act committed by one member of a household against another. For example, battering a child, a woman, child abuse, elder abuse.
The free encyclopedia says that domestic violence occurs when a family member,partner or ex-partner attempts to physically or psychologically dominates another. It goes further to define domestic violence as violence between spouses or spousal abuse but can also include cohabitants and non-married partners. Domestic violence occurs in all cultures, people of all races, ethnicities, religious, sex and classes can be perpetrators of domestic violence.
CAUSE OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS.
There are plenty cause of domestic violence against women and girls but few are to mentioned and examined here.
Some behaviors, attitudes and practices in the society present men as more important than women. In many communities in Nigeria for example, women are seen as people whose role in the society should be to obey orders without complaining. Such behavior, attitude and practices only encourage violence against women.
There are traditional customs and beliefs which treat women as weaker than men. For example, in some Nigerian communities,women are not expected to prticipate in decision making and they are not expected to challenge even wrong decisions by some men. When the women eventually challenge such decisions, it leads to violence against them.
Women make up a higher part of those who are the poorest and the most unprotected group of persons. For this reasons they are prone to domestic violence.
Existing laws which are meant to protect women and girls (and everybody) from all kinds of violence are not strictly enforced in the society. The result is that people commit all kinds of violence against women and they do not get punished for it. When this happens, other people are encouraged to also commit violence against women and girls.
HOW TO CONTROL VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS
Women and girls who are the symbols of the mothers of our nations must be protected from violence. Violence against women can be controlled by individual women and girl, women groups,girls' groups and the government.
WHAT INDIVIDUAL WOMEN AND GIRLS SHOULD DO
Individual women and girls should exhibit orderly behavior at any point in time. They should be conscious of their interaction with members of the public, and report any act of violence against women to appropriate quarters.
WHAT WOMEN AND GIRLS' GROUPS SHOULD DO
Women groups such as National Council for Women Societies (NCWS), Christian Women Organization (CWO), National Association of Women Journalist (NAWOJ),Federation of International Women Lawyers (FIDA), and various other women groups should embark on sensitizing our women and girls on their rights. They should protect women and girls from all kinds of violence against them by carrying out awareness campaign activities for everybody about violence against women and its danger to the society. These groups should identify women and girls victims of violence and encourage them to speak out and seek redress. Women groups can also help in providing free legal aids and services for women who are victims of violence.
WHAT GOVERNMENT AT ALL LEVELS SHOULD DO
Domestic violence should not be viewed as a private family matter that needs not involve government or criminal justice intervention. There should be response to domestic violence by the law enforcement agencies, social service agencies and the courts. State and Local Governments should build more rehabilitation centres for women girls and children who are victims of unfortunate circumstance, such as that of violence against women. The Federal Ministries of Women Affairs and Social Developments should embark on research on the incidence of violence against women. Government should enact more laws which will adequately help in controlling violence against women and girls, and make sure that legal punishments pronunced for all kinds of violence committed against women is carried out.
THE POSITION OF THE LAW ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
There are statutes, several international declarations and conventions that work to exclude violence against women and girls in all spheres.
ARTICLE 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 provides that. "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reasons and conscience and should act towards one another in the spirit of brotherhood". The essence of the provision is the equality in dignity and right of human beings. It did not draw any distinction between men and women as to right to life, liberty and security of persons. The United Nations General Assembly in 1993, adopted the declaration of elimination of violence against women. According to the Declaration: "Any act of gender based violence that results in or is likely to result in physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivations of liberty whether occuring in public or private life is an infringement on women's Fundamental Human Rights."
The 1986 United Kingdom's convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women imposed duties on state parties under Article 2 and states as follows:
That States should embody the principle of equality of men and women in their national constitution, adoption of appropriate legislative and other measures, including sanctions where appropriate, prohibiting all discriminations against women, refraining from engaging in any act or practice of discrimination against women and to ensure that public authorities and institutions shall act in conformity with this obligation; taking all appropriate measures, including legislation, to modify or abolish existing laws, regulations, customs and practices which constitute discrimination against women, repealing all national penal provisions which constitute discrimination against women, it therefore urges the states to refrain from engaging in violence against women and to exercise due dilligence.
The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended makes ample provision for the protection of women and girls and in fact everybody from violence. The provisions are general provisions that include women. Chapter four(4) of the constitution provides for fundamental rights. Section 34 (1) provides that "Every individual is entittled to respect for the dignity of his person and accordingly": no person shall be subject to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment, no person shall be held in slavery or servitude, and no person shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour.
All these provisions exclude violence against women and perpetrators of these violence are not left unpunished.
There should be a clear statement of abolition of harmful traditional practices to protect the rights and equality status of women. Harmful traditional practices include Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), Wife Inheritance, Widowhood Rites, Bride Price and Early/Forced Marriage. These practices are of no benefit to anyone nor do they have any social value. They are rather harmful and dehumanizing to women. The constitution must entrench the abolition of such traditional practices. Government at all levels should enact more laws for controlling violence against women and also setting up special courts to try cases of violence against women. Female members of the State Houses of Assembly, Federal House of Representatives and the Senate to live up to expectation by fighting this ugly war against humanity, against women and girls in particular. This can be done by sponsoring bills in the Legislative arms of the Governments, so that we can use the instrumentality of the law particularly in democratic dispensation to track down perpetrators of violence against women.
Iwuji J.U : State CID, Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria. "Domestic Violence And The Law"