A survey of attitudes in the community toward domestic violence in Nigeria, attests that the most frequent victims of violence usually turn out to be unmarried women in the southern states, with figures as high as 70 percent in some places.
Data from the study, published recently in a British Council, Nigeria report entitled “Gender in Nigeria Report 2012: Improving the Lives of Girls and Women in Nigeria, Issues, Policies, Action” notes that women in the “never married group” are more likely to have suffered physical violence than women who have been married or are married.
Information on the physical violence women experience and public attitudes towards such violence, reveal that the level of gender-based violence against women in Nigeria as revealed by the 2008 DHS data shows that in the South West,47.5 percent of 15-24-year-olds who have never married, experienced violence, compared to 43.7 percent of those married at one time or the other. Corresponding figures for the South South are 33.4 percent and 28.8 percent respectively
The survey also
shows that 91.0 percent of women in the South-West, who have ever been married, and are aged 15-24 years, think wife beating is completely justified, compared to 6.0 percent among women who have never married and 6.8 percent among all 15-24- year-olds in the region. Figures for the South South are 93.5 percent, 2.6 percent and 3.5 percent respectively.
The Report says further investigations are desirable to explain the trend, while revealing that the highest proportion of women who experience physical violence is in the South-West and South-South regions while the North-East and North-West report relatively fewer cases of domestic violence.
The Gender In Nigeria Report, showcases how tolerance of physical violence against women in Nigeria is generally higher in the regions where the highest number of women experience the violence, and reveals that a surprisingly high number of married women tend to say wife beating is justified.
“Up to a third of women in Nigeria report that they have been subjected to some form of violence, including battering and verbal abuse, emotional and psychological abuse, marital rape, sexual exploitation, or harassment within the home,” the Report noted.
Observing that one in five Nigerian women has experienced some form of physical violence, the Report which exhibits data originally captured in the 2008 National Demographic Health Survey, NDHS, observed that much of the violence experienced by women range from physical, sexual and psychological violence that occur at the hands of family members, especially husbands, partners and fathers.
These are women who are married or have been married at one time or the other, and are resident in the South-West and South-South regions of the country.
According to the Report, the National average of women who have ever married and are aged 15-24 who think wife beating is completely justified, is 16.5 percent, compared to 7.8 percent among women who have never married and 22.8 percent among all 15-25 year-olds.
The Report, which recognised that certain forms of violence are institutionalized, said much of the blame is on the plural legal systems in the country. It noted that organisations such as the CEDAW, an NGO Coalition, laments that the law as currently constituted, does not offer women and girls adequate protection from violence.
While progress has been made, for instance, the Violence against Women Prevention, Protection and Prohibition Act 2002, only Ebonyi, Jigawa, Cross Rivers and Lagos states have enacted domestic violence laws against Female Genital Mutilation, FGM.