Government trains marriage registrars on application of compulsory pre-marital counseling curriculum
In a bid to stem domestic violence and related vices in the state, as well as enforce its newly launched pre-marital counselling directive, the Lagos State Domestic Violence Agency (DSVA) has trained marriage registrars on new ways of identifying violence before marriages are consummated.
Done in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government and Community Affairs, it was also meant to shed light on the effective use of compulsory pre-marital preparatory counselling for intending couples.
According to the executive secretary of the agency, Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi, statistics show that about 80 percent of those that report matrimonial abuse had pre-existing knowledge of their partner’s erratic behaviours before marriage but proceeded with the union.
She added that the agency intends to embark on sustainable and proactive programmes with a view to addressing the problem.
“It is to this end that we, having observed the important and strategic position of marriage registrars to provide a commanding perspective in pre-marriage counselling, which may prevent domestic violence,
particularly Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is embarking on this.
The permanent secretary in the ministry, Kikelomo Sanyaolu, represented by Oluwatoyin Adeniji, in her keynote address, applauded the agency for the timely move, pledging her support in upholding the initiative.
Personal and family life experts took the 62 registrars through the detailed eight-week curriculum over the course of three days.
They were taught gender and sex roles, marital definition and roles, understanding of love, the origin of domestic violence and how to recognise the signs; prevent domestic violence and the role of marriage registrars.
They were also exposed to best practices for counselling and exploring existing state structures and services for domestic violence survivors, as well as the laws regulating domestic violence in the state.
The registrars also took psychometric tests to help them assess compatibility in couples as they were urged not to help to intend couples cut corners, but to undergo the full period of pre-marital counselling before they are joined.
Founder, Institute of Family Engineering and Development Africa, Praise Fowowe, who was one of the resource persons, said that the training became “necessary because of the increase in domestic violence in the state. Many women saw the red flags before tying the knot but ignored them. The fact that there is a gap in professional counselling is also a problem, which led us to create a curriculum that registrars can deploy for intending couples, and spot abusers to prevent them from getting married.
“We also have the response part of it that deals with what can be done if the couple is already married, and how the matter can be escalated to the right agencies. The registrars can stop a marriage if they see that something is not right. What we call a church wedding is actually a civil marriage and must be conducted in a licensed church, under a licensed minister. Many people get married to unlicensed ministers and such marriages do not exist in the eyes of the law. No matter where you get/got married, once you’re a resident of Lagos, and you are experiencing abuse in your marriage, you can approach the DSVA for help.”
National president, Association of Local Government Registrars of Marriages, Deji Sokeye, who also doubles as the Lagos State president and the chief Registrar, Ikoyi/Obalende LCDA Marriage Registry, said that registrars need to be acquainted with new, modern and sophisticated forms of violence.
“What we are seeing at the registry now is unbelievable and if this is not addressed, we would be in trouble. I conducted a marriage on a Thursday and by Monday morning, the couple came back that they wanted a divorce. I was so shocked and upon deeper interrogation, discovered they didn’t undergo pre-marital counselling, despite dating for three years. A potential victim mostly knows they are getting married to a potential abuser because the signs are always there except you want to lie to yourself.”