As a writer and social commentator, some subjects take more out of you than others. Some topics drain you of emotion and makes you both reluctant and eager to discuss them. You are reluctant because you are afraid you just might let your emotions get the better of you, and end up not passing your message across the way you had planned to. It’s like writing about rape. I dare say there’s no way to discuss the proliferation of rape incidents without being angry. The mere thought has me scowling as I write this. On the other hand, you are eager to lend your voice in the midst of the cacophony of voices addressing the same subject because you feel you owe it to at least one person out there to speak your truth concerning the matter. Some issues are just naturally touchy and domestic violence is one of them.
Ladies and gentlemen, at this point it appears that we have a relationship crisis on our hands. The incidents of domestic violence which is often shrouded in secrecy has allegedly led to the untimely death of yet another young woman. A vibrant young mother of two kids. A tragic story reminiscent of the popular Arowolo saga involving the alleged battering and eventual murder of a young female banker. It’s dejavu all over again. As expected, there has been an avalanche of hue and cry about this latest case of domestic violence leading to another unfortunate loss of life.
Almost exactly three months ago, Nigerians were once again hit with the news of Yewande, a lawyer in Ibadan who allegedly stabbed her husband several times leading to his death in another crime of passion. A development that served as an eye-opener for those who had previously attributed the perpetration of domestic violence to the male folk alone. This time around the alleged villain in the plot was a woman.
In the three cases mentioned above, the victims were young people in their thirties. Two women and a man at the peak of their prime. Individuals who no doubt must have had lofty desires and dreams they planned to achieve over time only for their expectations to be cut short abruptly. It is lamentable. It is tragic. It is an emergency situation. And it should be nipped in the bud as soon as possible.
In this latest case, Mr Shonde has claimed that he didn’t beat his wife and mother of kids on that fateful Thursday night. He swears the last time he hit her was three years ago (as if he should have laid his hands on her at any time at all). Yet, neighbours are adamant in their assertion that the marriage has been consistently marred by violence and that they actually heard screams from the couples apartment that night. The question is, why would neighbours lie about what they haven’t seen or heard? If Mr Shonde claims he didn’t touch his wife, then how did the marks of struggle found on her body get there and who locked her children in the house along with their mother’s lifeless body? Of course, these and many other questions are what the police will be expected to provide answers to since the suspect is now in their custody.
Our obsession with getting married and staying married at all cost in these climes is beginning to boomerang. Just like I noted in my article on Tiwa Savage’s marriage here, we live in a society where we are constantly being told that it is unheard of for a woman especially to leave her marriage under any circumstances at all. Marriage is supposed to be endured to the uttermost and any party who crumbles under the weight of matrimonial challenges regardless of the form it takes is not only weak but highly irresponsible.
If your spouse is emotionally, verbally or even physically abusive take it to the Lord in prayer they say. Have you seen the American Christian drama “War Room?” Well, do what Elizabeth in the movie did, pray your way to the wellness of your marriage. It doesn’t matter if the protagonist in the movie didn’t have to endure any form of battering in the hands of her husband. There are always variations to the issues faced in each marriage. And so, never mind that she wasn’t dealing with a swollen eye or broken nose, those prayers can still work for you too. What is a taboo is you even daring to conceive the idea of leaving your marriage. It’s an unforgivable sin.
And if unfortunately, the abused party kicks the bucket as an aftermath of the serial beatings they were subjected to, the same society turns around to tacitly blame them. “Why didn’t they leave the deadly union before the inevitable happened?” Why did they pretend all was well when they could have sought help?”
Now, push has to come to shove. The die is cast and if we are truly serious about arresting this ugly trend as a society, then not only should stiff penalties in the mold of the death sentence be given to anyone found guilty of domestic violence leading to death, but we should be more interested in a preventive measure which translates to reducing the emphasis on the importance of marriage and coping with all sorts in the name of making a marriage work.
Family and friends should desist from advising victims of domestic violence to “pray and leave everything in God’s hands.” Single parents should not be looked down upon as bad examples and the unmarried should not be stampeded into making rash decisions in choosing a partner in a bid to satisfy a society that is not even certain of it wants.
Sometimes, it is the lack of employment and finance that forces women (who are mostly victims) into staying with an abusive man. Ladies, this is 2016. There is no reason why any able bodied person above the age of 25 should be totally dependent on another person financially. Whether we admit it or not, having one’s own money gives some level of security. Every woman should be gainfully engaged in a profit making venture regardless of how little the returns may be. It is far better than being an absolute liability.
Finally, at this time, it is more imperative than ever before that we become our brother’s keeper. Maybe if the people surrounding the like Ronke, Oyelowo and Titi had paid just a little more attention to the signs of what was to come and removed them from the situation, they would still be living, walking beings today.
Domestic violence is a monster. It must be stopped.