I got an invitation to a walk against domestic violence recently. Being that I have always stood against this vice, I was very happy to find out that others were as irritated as myself by the evil of domestic violence. What pleased me most was that this particular walk was backed by Natures Gentle Touch, Nigeria’s leading haircare brand.
It turned out a very worthwhile experience. It was not the first time I would be walking against the social vice, neither would it be the last. What made this experience special and left fond memories with me and I guess most of the participants is that it was championed by a business, not just a corporate body but a Nigerian business.
This is very striking because in this part of the world, it is a known fact that the subject of domestic violence is one that the vast majority are pretty uncomfortable to discuss, no, not openly. Family and friends offer support and tend to encourage victims to endure, while suffering in silence. This is why it is rare to find a company willingly staking its head to freely talk against it. Why this is so, remains unclear. But the decision by Natures Gentle Touch to initiate discuss on the ills of domestic violence has indeed given a new twist to the issue, lending it a corporate backing Aside leading in the walk against the social vice, the company I learnt also partnered on a film project titled “Omoye”, a movie on domestic violence which has generated lots of buzz in the public. This is highly commendable and something every other business should consider. The corporate world needs to get involved in the fight against this aberration. Like Natures Gentle Touch, we all need to speak up to defeat it!
While domestic violence is the violation of fundamental human rights, the prevalence of this social aberration is alarming and frightening as well. Available statistics on domestic violence in Nigeria shows there is no signs of it lessening. Infact it is believed that as many as two thirds of Nigerian women experience physical, sexual and psychological abuse at the hands of their husbands or partners. Shockingly, a huge number of pregnant women are reported to go through this horrible experience.
Though the issue of domestic violence isn’t only restricted to women, (there is a growing number of cases of violence against men), they are the most affected given our dysfunctional cultural system that places the man above the woman. Violence against a wife is seen as a tool that a husband uses to chastise his wife and to correct her. To make matters worse, even some of the victims, don’t see anything wrong with it.
I recall sometimes ago while I was a Corper. I had a roommate who shared her horrible experiences with her then boyfriend. According to her, this guy for simple reasons as her not picking his calls, would verbally abuse her and even beat her. Infact forceful sex became his way of making up with her, and surprisingly, this girl saw all of this as a sign of love.
Another story plays out in a church. A pastor had called on the men who beat their wife to come out for deliverance and here you had this man who decided to come forward and be delivered from what he believed to be an abnormality. He was quickly stopped by the wife, who felt ashamed and inadequate.
Domestic violence takes many forms including physical, sexual emotional and mental. The commonest forms being rape, acid attacks, molestation, battery and corporal punishment. Unfortunately these cases are under reported because of the unwillingness on the part of victims to talk about their experience, largely due to shame or fear.
And this is where the big challenge lies; the need to encourage victims to speak up and get help. As with all evil, it is important we continue to create awareness about the menace of domestic violence, possibly shout it on the roof top, because truth be told, domestic violence affects not just the victim but everyone collectively and most importantly children who watch the acts being committed. It predisposes them to trauma and other psychological problems throughout their lives and eventually they also most of the times become abusers as well, hence the cycle continues.