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Illustrative ptuneo
 
About ten years ago, my tough, disciplinarian Uncle stopped talking to a certain friend of his. I told him how wrong it was to indulge in malice. He gave me a very steely look, told me to sit down and told me this pathetic story:
 
His friend was not employed and was not going to touch anything that is from his egoistic prism, “lower than his standard”, to earn a living. So his wife picked all the bills, fed the man, clothed him, paid their only child’s school fees and gave monthly pocket allowance to her in-laws. When there were family ceremonies from her husband’s parents or relatives, she catered for the guests, bought the chosen aso-ebis, and gave money to her mother-in-law and father-in-law. They would take her money and utter not a word of thanks to her. Because their son lied to them that he was a “business man” with a huge income. So they concluded that, “after all she’s giving us from our son’s money”. She, in turn, never told them the truth, so as to “cover her husband’s shame”. Meanwhile, she was a comfortable banker without personal financial issues.
 
One day, she thought she might be coming down with a complicated pregnancy of their second child. The visits to her usual private hospital were not yielding the desired result. She spoke with a friend in the UK, who also spoke to her own GP. The friend in the UK then sent the relevant documents for her to process her visa. It was her first time abroad. With a good bank statement and job profile, she got the visa. Excited, she went home and informed the husband. His response fired a chill through the air: “Have I your husband being to London before?” Shivering and with trepidation, she replied: “No”. Thereafter, he said, “Then you can never visit London before me”! He also added the cliche from men suffering from inferiority complex: “Is it because you have money? Are other women not coping in our local hospitals?”
 
She thought she was in a dream. This man knew the urgent pressing situation from the life-threatening pregnancy. But he did not budge as she cried. So she called his parents to weigh in on her behalf. The in-laws said they couldn’t advise her to “go against our son’s wish”.
 
She sought help from her own parents. They told her, “you know if we intervene now, it would seem as if we’re influencing you against your husband”. She was stuck! She had no time to waste, and so opted for the private hospital. Something went wrong as they tried to manage her. Don’t forget that she had lost precious time seeking to persuade her iron willed and intransigent husband. Doctors battled to save her, she went into coma and never returned. Today she’s no more.
 
She died because she married a man who had an unnecessary ego, inferiority complex and chauvinistic stone-age ideas.
 
My uncle said another woman moved in about two years later and the innocent child from the late wife became a step-daughter. You can imagine the rest of the story.
 
Some other women will fight this. They will raise hell so as to survive. But certain upbringing from diverse backgrounds given to daughters can configure them in default docility, so much that they don’t even know when husbands reduce them to pieces of rag, to be picked and used, to be pumped and killed.
For this some women become rebels and take the law into their hands. Unfortunately, the moment she murders her husband, she has crossed the red line in law. I have the empathy that Nigerian women go through a lot in the bondage and den of some men who are not worthy to be called husbands. I know some women endure the worst forms of humiliation in the hands of some men whose penchant for gender discrimination and suppression of the womenfolk is a delightful paranoia. I know some men were raised from childhood to disregard, disrespect and shut down the voice of women. Such men shall never make good husbands. Such men are domestic slave holders. Turning the woman into market slaves, kitchen slaves, laundry slaves, and slaves to be used as caterers, glorified maids at functions of her in-laws and then sex slaves who participate in sessions she never enjoys. A marriage counselling consultant once told me some women have complained that when they try to be active participants in bed, their hubbies ask them, “what is wrong with you, are you a prostitute”?
 
At the same time, these women are not allowed to say NO to SEX. This can end in rape, because the man will strangle her and scream: “I PAID YOUR DOWRY!”
 
Why do women marry and keep living with men with inferiority complexes, and with insecurity issues? Men who cannot cope but would rather loathe the attainments of their wives! Men who cannot celebrate the same women who went through labour and gave birth to their children. Such men are mere cold-hearted, insensitive, robotic mannequins, only with the physiology of functioning male organs. Such men have committed murder. Either through physical execution or mental torture of their spouses.
 
Some women also abuse men. They nag, they whine, they slap and they deny him! They dish his food like he’s begging for it. They play domestic politics that skew the children’s support to their myopic little in-house political corners. Such have not only destroyed their today, they have designed the wrong life-template for their children.
 
When these toxic relationships get to the boiling point, various scenarios play out. Some women become “prayer warriors” and outer clause “congregation” for their pastors in endless counselling sessions.
 
In all fairness, some pastors are fantastic psychologists. They do all they can to turn the home around and back on the sail. However, some other ones spot opportunity for sidekicks and take advantage of the woman’s engendered vulnerability. With some well seasoned and ulterior-motif motivational deliveries, she’s hypnotised and ends up warming the “pastor’s” bed! Meanwhile, she’s just one of the “bed warmers” in his league of emotionally traumatised women.
 
This is well interlaced with some other women who seek escapism in infidelity. While it is hard to excuse them, it’s also constraining to blame them. But she who the shoe pinches feels the hurt. You cannot pass a verdict of damnation on an “adulterer” until you feel her kind of heat!
 
Some other women resort to self-help. They have been traumatised, they have been used, they have been told the ridiculous lines of “don’t kill me as your mother killed your father before I married you”. In there the husband inadvertently offers a tragic solution that the wife never thought of. And on a day her oppressive tiger snores away, she reaches for the knive and delivers her justice in cold blood murder. She sought her own escapism in a vendetta of tragic dimension. The law picks her up, and as she shuttles between prison remand and courtroom trial, the children become unpropitious, doomed victims. By the way, she does not have to use the knife. The woman who you beat but who still cooks your food holds the key to your grave.
 
In all of these, it’s pertinent to drive home some home truth. Our society is guilty of domestic violence! Some of those who sit behind the desks to determine when to weigh in and save a combustible situation are warped in thinking, ultra-conservative in judgment and limited by medieval mentality. I once heard of a woman who went to complain at a certain well known police formation that her husband was battering her. She also told them he now rapes her at will and she’s under siege that he might strangle her one day. I heard the O/C asked “how can your husband rape you, there’s nothing like spousal rape. No be your husband? No de talk like that o, IT IS NOT GOOD”. When the lady insisted her life was under threat, he told her bluntly, the Nigerian law does not protect her. He told her she should first go and pack out of the house with her children and then come back to report for processes of divorce and ex parte motions. She has no money. She went back home. She’s stuck and waiting for the worse. What kind of law makes it impossible for the police to invite a man disposed to committing murder anytime and place him under watch with a stern warning to at least save his wife and children. It beats me.
 
Most of our NGOs too only pay lip service to protect the women. They receive many reports but do nothing. But the day the domestic murder takes place and it becomes celebrated in the media, they jostle up and down, issuing well rehearsed lip-service statements and seeking cheap public relations’ relevance. Shame indeed!
 
I must note with optimism and commendation that Lagos State has stepped up it’s game to curb domestic violence. It has set up Lagos Protection Against Domestic Violence Agency. On December 8, 2016 at a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) activity to mark “16 Days of Activism Against-Based Violence Campaign”, Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Mrs. Lola Akande reiterated that “domestic violence remains a crime in Lagos State since the law providing protection against the act was still in place, and as such violators would be prosecuted accordingly”.
 
This is heartwarming. However, more effort is required to walk the talk. I received a report recently of someone who reported her matter to the Agency, having been referred by the Area G Command in Ogba. The Agency listened to her and started inviting the hubby through text messages. As we type, he is yet to honour the invitation, and the Agency has done nothing further to rein him in. This is dangerous and may be another murder waiting to happen. Domestic Protection Agencies should be proactive, engaging and pragmatic in taking actions to save Nigerian women.
 
We cannot continue to live in denial in this country. Women are vital to national development. Children are better saved from witnessing mentally damaging sights of “horror movie” at home. Usually, it shapes the eventual narrative of their entire life.
 
And for every wife that her husband has done well for but still thinks the pasture is greener out there, this is some bit of counsel: That minister you admire may be dealing with his own domestic issues; that governor you adore may be relating to his wife only through the ADC. That CEO you’re comparing your husband with may indeed be battering his own wife at home. There is no “perfect man” in a battered economy, with struggles to keep up pace; all men just try to be above board. Communicating with your spouse in the bluntest of language is essential. Laying bare all that rocked your marriage in 2017 and why you think you may not live with it in 2018. Conversely, playing your upbuilding part and nagging your husband less. The holy books compare a nagging wife with a leaking roof. Where shall her husband find peace? Some men can be won over with wisdom and well-bred conduct.
 
And for the beasts in men who can never treat women with honour, the Nigerian government should, as a matter of urgency, embrace global best practices in women and children protection. Most men who assault their wives in Nigeria are quite aware that if they do the same in saner climes, they would not only be bundled out of the house, they would be instructed not to trespass within a certain radius of the premises occupied by their estranged families. And they would probably still be mandated to pay the rent!
 
But here in Nigeria, they become pugilists at home. But seriously, only cowards batter their wives!
 
And as long as we treat domestic violence with kid gloves, and as our society insists the disregarded, unheard and unseen wife must keep co-existing with her assaulter, let’s all live with a tragic and bitter reality which is that more women will seek self-help and more brutal husbands may kiss the dust and bid the world good bye.
 
I know new year resolutions have been catalogued here and there. Some want to read more books this year, some want to buy new cars, build new houses, change apartments or get involved more “in the service of the Lord”. But I am really interested in knowing how many husbands made a resolution and a serious one at that to henceforth stop mentally assaulting or physically battering their wives altogether. This may be a good resolution to consider: You may just be saving your own life.
 
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Akin Fadeyi is the Convener of the Corruption Not In My Country Project.

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Illustrative ptuneo   About ten years ago, my tough, disciplinarian Uncle stopped talking to a certain friend of his. I told him how wrong it was to indulge in malice. He gave me a very steely look, told me to sit down and told me this pathetic story:   His friend was not...