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1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Gender-based violence has been the experience of women worldwide which has affected their relationship in the homes, communities, places of work and largely their productivity in their various places of assignments (amnesty international, 2005). An increasing amount of research highlights the health burdens, intergenerational effects, and demographic consequences of such violence (United Nations, 2006). The World Health Organization defines such violence as “the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, or psychological harm or deprivation” (Krug et al, 2002).
Gender violence is a universal reality that had existed in all societies and human settlement regardless of class, income, culture or educational attainment. This paper focuses on domestic violence, a form of gender-based violence, which is defined here as any act of violence resulting in physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering to women, girls or men, including threats of such act, coercion, or arbitrary deprivation of liberty. Domestic violence is also known as domestic abuse, spousal abuse, battery, family violence and intimate partner violence (IPV). It is a pattern of abusive behaviors by one partner against another in an intimate relationship such as marriage, dating, family or cohabitation.
Domestic violence, so defined, has many forms, including physical aggression or assault (hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, restraining, slapping, throwing objects), or threats therefore; sexual abuse; emotional abuse; controlling or domineering; intimidation; stalking; passive/covert abuse otherwise known as neglect; and economic deprivation (Seimeinuk et al, 2010). Domestic violence is not limited to obvious physical violence. It can mean endangerment, criminal coercion, kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, trespassing and harassment (National Network to End Domestic Violence 2011)
The US office and violence Against Women (OVM) defines domestic violence as a “pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner”. The definition adds that domestic violence “can happen to anyone regardless of race, age. Sexual orientation, religion, or gender”, and can take many forms including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional, economic and psychological abuse (Office of Violence against Women, 2007).
Women are crucial to the growth and development of any nation and the world at large. They constitute half of the world’s population and are homemakers, custodians of social cultural and fundamental values of the society and permanent change is often best achieved through them. Full community development is impossible without their understanding, cooperation and effect management. Considering the importance of women as mothers, sometimes breadwinners, teachers and guardians, they deserve respect, recognition and better treatment but the opposite is usually the case. According to Davies (1999), women are enslaved in a circle of poverty and they suffer from neglect, discrimination and exploitation. They are also subjected to different of violence by their male counterparts.
In Nigeria, domestic violence is widely acknowledge to be of great concern, not just from a human rights perspective but also from an economic and health perspective. Women are more at risk from this gender–based violence. There have been reports of husbands killing or maiming their wives in the media. The statistics presented by This Day (2011) newspaper are daunting. About 50% of women have been battered by their husband. Shockingly, more educated women (65%) are in this terrible situation as compared with their low income counterparts (55%). Most of the women endure believing they have nowhere to go and in any case, believing for good reason that the law will not protect them.
A staggering 97.2% of them are not prepared to report to the Nigeria police. Only one state of the federation (Lagos been one of them) have passed laws against insidious crime, whilst several Bills against it languish in our male dominated National Assembly. Of the states that have passed it, the law is yet to be fully tested.
Only recently in Lagos state, Titilayo Arowolo, a 27 year – old mother of one was gruesomely murdered by her husband. Arowolo was allegedly axed to death by her husband, Kolade, in their Isolo home in Lagos. Before that, the scandalous story of wife battering by one Nigerian Ambassador and a traditional ruler who engaged his wife in a public brawl made the rounds, thus bringing the issue of spousal abuse once again to the front burner.
Domestic violence that occurs in private within the family, including rape, acid attack and sexual abuse affect the physical and psychological wellbeing of women; and as such, they seem to erode the position of women at home and in the society at large. Domestic violence against women therefore deserve to be researched upon so as to expose the existence of this discrimination against women and in the process provide possible solution to curb its prevalence.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
It is no longer an exaggeration that the rate of violence and crime against women, (especially Nigerian women) is on the increase as even the number of perpetrators of this violent act against women appears to be ever increasing on a daily basis. In almost every tribe, the status of women is very low and women are considered the property of men. Accordingly, a husband’s right to discipline his wife is accepted. This tradition seems not to be effective in preventing domestic violence against women.
Many times, women are maltreated and considered inferior at home, workplace, schools and so on thereby making them suffer from beating; sexual assault; sexual harassment; denial of time for relaxation; denial of right to accumulate wealth even when women actually do most of the work; emotional and psychological abuse to mention just a few. Physically, women emerge from these violent episodes every time with black eyes, bruises, rape and burns to internal injuries to the psyche may be just as disabling. Little wonder why Iloegbunam (2006), stated that one of the ironies of history is the fact that despite the role women play both at home and in the society, they have remained unnoticed and even belittled. Further, there is an inter-generational effect on children who have witnessed violence, as they are more likely to be abusive themselves as adults. Violence against women constitutes a violation of the rights and fundamental
freedoms of women and impairs or nullifies their enjoyment of those rights and freedoms.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The major aim and objectives of carrying out this study was to:
1. Examine respondent’s perception of domestic violence.
2. Identify the forms and the vulnerable group to face domestic violence.
3. Find out the causes of domestic violence.
4. Investigate the effect of domestic violence on women
1.4 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
To guide the investigation of the issue raised in the problem definition, it is hypothesized that:
1. There is relationship between family structure and domestic violence
2. Domestic violence inflicts injuries on victims
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study is crucial and timely especially as statistics showing the rate of domestic violence globally has been on a steady increase. Among other things,
1. This study was meant to be an eye opener to the fact that domestic violence is prevalent in Nigeria and it’s something that needed to be dealt with owing to its many negative impacts on victims of such violent.
2. upon providing evidence of its existence, the study was also meant to suggest solutions to the phenomena called domestic violence
3. This study was also expected to add value to the existing body of knowledge for students, academicians and researchers who may appreciate the problem of domestic abuse in Nigerian society sand equally enhance the understanding of its consequences to the society
4. Finally, it was hoped that the study would enable policy makers appreciate the problem and come up with appropriate remedies to address the problems associated with domestic violence.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
Egor Local Government Area of Benin City, the capital of Edo state, Nigeria was used for the study mainly because of its heterogeneity in religious affiliation of female resident in the area.
1.7 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
As a developing country, Nigeria does not have a sophisticated database of empirical studies on domestic violent. More so, due to the fact that Nigeria do not
yet consider the issue of domestic violence a great crime as well as the differences in the definition of domestic violence, the major challenge to this study was finding research work that would help the researcher understand the problem broadly.
For this reason, the study utilized any resource that relates to the research problem such as scholarly works, newspaper articles and journals.
However, the study was restricted to Egor Local Government area of Benin City, therefore findings may not apply to the entire entity called Nigeria and the world in general.
Finally, the sample in this research study was disproportionately located in Egor Local Government, Benin City, and so the result may not be a solid representation of the whole state.
1.7 DEFINITON OF TERMS.
Domestic violent: Domestic violent is a confrontation between family or household members that typically involves physical harm, sexual assault, or fear of physical harm.
Wife battering: Wife beating refers to any abusive, violent, coercive, forceful, or threatening act or word inflicted by a member of the family or
household on a woman in the society usually to establish power through fear and intimidation.
Cohabitation: Cohabitation is the state or condition of living together as husband and wife without been married
Socialization: From the perspective of society, socialization refers to the process of fitting new individuals into an organized way of life and an established cultural tradition.