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Louisa’s Surviving Domestic Violence gives hope to distressed women

By Ijeoma Thomas-Odia
24 September 2022   |   2:44 am
With unending cases of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence most of which are unreported, a new book has been released to help survivors of the menace.

With unending cases of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence most of which are unreported, a new book has been released to help survivors of the menace.

The book, Surviving Domestic Violence – In Relation to Laws on Protection in Nigeria, written by Louisa Eikhomun-Agbonkhese, tells the personal story of the writer during her torturous marital experience that lasted three years. It also shares the story of how she struggled to rise above vulnerability unto strength.

At the presentation of the book held recently in Ikeja, the First Lady of Lagos State, Mrs. Ibijoke Sanwo Olu, represented by Olabisi Oyebanjo, saluted the courage of the author in finding the inner strength to painstakingly document her personal story and thereby copiously revealing the hitherto salient unvoiced issues of domestic violence in Nigeria.

“Without any iota of doubt, GVB is an evil that must be collectively confronted. Our society must rise against this ungodly, barbaric and dehumanising crime that poses a grave threat to victims,” she said.

She reiterated that the Lagos State government has zero tolerance for all forms of violence against women.

“We must continue to put these issues on the front burner. We must never encourage the culture of silence and we must do everything possible to ensure that women, men and boys are protected from going through the harrowing experience of domestic violence,” she added.

Also speaking, the Coordinator, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Lagos State, Mr. Lucas Koyejo, described SGBV as a sad reality of life for far too many people, noting that its consequences were devastating and far-reaching for survivors, families and society.

“As a commission, we are concerned that despite the enactment of the Domestic Violence Law of Lagos State, Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act and despite the constitution explicitly providing for the right to dignity, personal security and freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment, cases of gender-based violence continue to escalate.

“We are also concerned with inadequate service provision for survivors of GBV which include access to justice, health and psycho-social support. We, therefore, urge the government to increase its support to survivors of GBV especially through the provision of more shelters, as the available ones are grossly inadequate.

“The Commission will continue to engage government and other stakeholders in a bid to enact a legal framework, which provides for stiffer and deterrent penalties for rape and other gender-based offenses.

“Any person who has faced violence due to their gender should not be forever defined by that experience. Access to care and services is an essential part of supporting personal resilience. It is our hope that this book can help service providers to realise the need for timely intervention and bolster the community of advocates and practitioners, and ultimately, prevent such violence from happening again,” Koyejo said.

On her part, the author of the book, Eikhomun-Agbonkhese said: “I survived domestic violence and I kept quiet for a long time. Reports of women getting killed, and suffering the same thing triggered me; I felt guilty. For more than 10 years, I couldn’t do anything so I decided to start documenting my experience.

“I survived it; I thrived. I was able to overcome the hurt and the pain. I overcame the trauma, though you cannot really get over the trauma in a lifetime I could heal, integrate back into society and begin to contribute to meaningful development as a woman.”

Assistant Commissioner of Police, Mary Ayim, explained that SGBV was a special criminal offence, which the Lagos State Command does not take likely, especially when not properly treated.

“If offenders are not brought to book, there won’t be deterrence. We need to support people who are survivors; they need a place of succour and that is one of the things the DSVRA is doing to ensure that more problems are not created. The truth is that women are not empowered, so when cases like this happen, they are forced to keep quiet because the men are the breadwinners. If we empower our girls, it will solve half of the problem because we cannot speak up if we are not empowered,” she submitted.

She stressed that law enforcement agencies need information and support to confront the problem, saying:

“If you see something going on around you, the woman might not be bold enough to say it; you can report on behalf of other people, as there are dedicated gender units trained to effectively handle these issues,” she said.