Using law to curb domestic violence in Nigeria

Our correspondent writes that domestic violence in Nigeria is rife and government should not lose hope on the need to employ requisite perpetrators to nip their actions in the bud.
Domestic violence in Nigeria is fast assuming a frightening dimension despite concerns expressed by stakeholders on the need to use multi-dimensional means to nip the development in the bud.
The extent of the domestic violence in our society was revealed in a recent survey conducted by the CLEEN Foundation which showed a nationwide increase in domestic violence in the past three years from 21 percent in 2011 to 30 percent in 2013.
There are indications that the number of domestic violence in the country may have inched to over 50 percent in recent times.
Domestic violence is often associated with physical abuses in the domestic relationships between husband and wife, parents and children and home aids, etc.
According to Wikipedia, traditionally, domestic violence is committed against females, while the common forms of iolence against women in Nigeria are rape, acid attacks, molestation, wife beating and corporal punishment.
The reason for the spate of domestic violence in the country includes unemployment, couples’ age difference, substance abuse, infertility, socio-economic issues and other factors that may propel violence in a relationship.
But domestic violence is currently being understood to have a broader meaning. It also includes economic, social and material neglect.
There are worries that the instrumentality of the law in the country is not effective enough to check the level of domestic violence in Nigeria. Some states in the country indeed have laws that would check domestic violence but it appears no scapegoat has been caught to bear the brunt of his action.
For instance Section 18(1)(f) of Lagos State Domestic Law provides that the victim and perpetrator of domestic violence must be married under the law, native law and custom as well as resident of Lagos whether the marriage was conducted in Lagos or outside it.
It also provides that the parties must be living together in nature of marriage although not married. Besides, the law applies to housemaids, domestic servants/staff, house keepers and unpaid licensee.
The law said any law within the state designated as family court has jurisdiction to adjudicate in the case of domestic violence where the complainant permanently or temporarily resides, carries on business or is employed in the state for length of time.
It also states that the perpetrator of a domestic violence resides, carries on business or is employed in the state or the cause of action in the state.
Funmi Falana in a book she edited, ‘A Law to Provide Protection Against Domestic Violence and For Connected Purposes’


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