Lagos, domestic violence and men’s honour
It will do the nation some good, if those in authorities at all levels pay attention to a story on domestic violence in the pace setter state of the moment, Lagos, which is also generally believed to be the economic capital of West Africa. Besides, there is sense in which we can claim that the prevailing, causative factors are available everywhere in the country. The only difference is that Lagos State, arguably the country’s strongest state bureaucracy gathers data for analysis while others doze off.
In any case, the relevant social-economic story from Lagos the other day is that the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) showed that between January and September 2017, a total of 852 cases of domestic violence and related cases were recorded in the state. Disaggregating the data, out of the total number, 564 were cases of domestic violence; 60, defilement cases; 30, rape cases; 11, attempted rape; 123, child neglect and abuse cases; and 84 other cases. The trend from the data showed an increase, with a total number of 55 men, in contrast to 14 men in the previous year.
Although, the data suggest that both men and women are victims of domestic violence and perpetrators of the act, it is clear that the act is more overwhelmingly perpetrated by men against women. Notwithstanding, there is a rise in the number of male victims. This is quite revealing for governance purpose at this time.
In the circumstances, experts have suggested that the sharp increase in the number of male victims is exacerbated by the low social and economic status of men as more women now have paying jobs, while some men feel emasculated by inequality in the society. Or so it seems. Also, there are the emotional and psychological consequences of the poor economic status of men that could make them to be brooding and beating up their wives as a result of petty misunderstanding.
In addition, poor state of health such as erectile dysfunction from stress and unhealthy lifestyle and lack of understanding of the responsibility involved in marriage and family, which have resulted in some men shirking their responsibilities to their families may account for the increase in the cases of domestic violence. These are views of researchers that should not be ignored, in this connection.
To eliminate domestic violence and live in a society that is responsive and protective of human dignity requires political will on the part of the authorities and stakeholders concerned and recognition of the humanity of everyone by all. As such, parents should guide and in fact, teach their offspring to respect the institution of marriage. While couples should ensure that peace reigns in families – just as a woman builds her home, the man should lay the foundation for the building by not shirking his responsibilities: he must show love and care that radiate. The issue of material prosperity should be downplayed. Traditional values and respect for roles should be enshrined in family and social life, while men should show kindness and leadership, instead of dominance.
The conclusion of the whole matter is that men should be men: they should be role models and take up responsibility of their position. Furthermore, both African and religious values are at convergence on having peaceful families. Hence, in a relationship, emphasis should be on collaboration, dialogic communication rather than making a fuss about carnality.
So, traditional and religious leaders should counsel and sermonise on the restoration of family values, mutual love and respect, harping on the need for families to bind together in good and bad times.
In addition, relevant ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government should develop and implement policies that will ensure zero tolerance for domestic violence. Again, the society will do well by focusing on prevention by dealing with the underlying causes of men’s inability to provide for their families. Data on unemployment should be kept and used for job creation. Men too should understand the times and note that jobs are now few and far between in the cities. There should also be social protection for victims of domestic violence who flee from the perpetrators.
The media and civil society organisations must help raise awareness about the criminal nature of domestic violence against a man or a woman. They should report incidents, violations and thus provide information about support services and protective laws. That way a culture of silence on cases of violations will be broken. All told, law enforcement agencies too should enforce the laws and prosecute to punish offenders, which will serve as a deterrent to others. A nation can only be built from homes where peace reigns.
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