Domestic violence is rising on the Plateau and the people are just watching helplessly as the situation escalates. It is not something that any normal human being would want to promote but it is happening almost on a daily basis and victims of domestic violence are increasing just as the crime is soaring.
Just like a whirlwind, most of the people who are boxed into the ring of domestic violence, choose to suffer in silence apparently due to the fear of stigmatization and shame.
The recent case of renowned gospel singer, Osinachi, who was said to have been suffering abuse in silence until she died, brings to the fore, what others are passing through without raising a voice of dissent.
However, the death of the gospel singer has perhaps emboldened more people to speak up against domestic violence and shame perpetrators of the crime.
In Plateau State, the death of 23-year-old Mercy, whose stomach was allegedly ripped open by her husband about seven weeks ago, has raised fresh advocacy for the culture of silence to be broken and for victims to seek help before it becomes late.
These recent incidents have nudged people to speak up as Arewa Voice findings reveal that in the last six weeks, no fewer than 35 people have reported one form of violence or the other to a non-governmental organisation in the State, seeking intervention.
Again, the Plateau State Coordinator of the National Human Rights Commission, Mrs. Grace Pam, has confirmed that there has been a tremendous increase in the number of domestic violence cases reported at NHRC Jos compared to what the situation was two years ago.
Pam pointed out that between January and May this year, no fewer than 288 cases relating to domestic violence were reported to the office in the state.
Pam said: “The increase can be attributed to a lot of factors among which are: unemployment, closely related to this is the economy. Others are cultural beliefs, substance abuse, witnessing family violence as a child, having low self-esteem, and a slow and ineffective legal process. Victims must seek help immediately from the family, the police, the NHRC, Ministry of Women Affairs, FIDA, and any response agency close to them to take up issues on their behalf. Victims must break the culture of silence and speak up because many have died trying to save the family name by not reporting, while many have stayed back in abusive relationships because of their children and ended up dying and leaving the children behind to suffer. Indeed, even men have lost their lives to domestic violence. There are devastating effects of domestic violence like disease, insanity, dropping out of school for children.”
Funmilayo Oloyede whose organisation, Christian Women for Excellence and Empowerment in Nigeria Society, CWEENS, receives between seven and 10 reports of domestic/gender-based violence a week, attributes the trend to many factors. She said: “This often occurs between intimate partners. There are times that one of the partners is a drunk. These things are real and the people tolerate them because of stigmatisation and it now becomes a norm in society. People feel it is normal and they keep silent about it.
“These issues are on the increase daily but we can curb it by constant awareness and sensitisation to the male and female gender because many people are experiencing it and they end up being maimed or killed. Some violence comes as a result of economic pressure which makes spouses lash out unconsciously at each other and if that is not well managed, it escalates.”
She cautioned against religious/cultural teachings which subject people to stay in abusive relationships because it is sending many people to early graves.
Pastor Emmanuel Anosike, who does not believe in divorce, however says he does not support victims of domestic violence staying in abusive marriages because there is room for separation to allow parties to sort out issues before coming back together.