Why Husbands Beat Their 'Troublesome' Wives? ...

For every woman who is violently attacked, we reduce our humanity
—Nelson Mandela
I know domestic violence is an affliction that many women face in their marriages today. I also know that behind the façade of a blissful and happy marriage that most women portray in the public lurks the horror of a violent and sadistic husband. For many of these women, violent abuse by their husbands is their worst kept secret. For many of these women, marriage has become bondage - a trap to keep them subjugated. 
But they must keep up appearances and endure a violent husband because the society frowns at divorce. For most women who are victims of violence, the thought of their home fills them with horror. The sight of their husbands makes their heart jump. It is a nightmarish dream they wished would end soon. But they are too horrified and traumatised to leave. 
In the last few days, reports of some mind-boggling tales of domestic violence have left me in shock. Spousal violence has also led me into asking some hard questions about a scourge that is turning many Nigerian women into endangered species.

A few questions come to mind as I searched for answers to this terrible scourge. Why do some men batter their wives? Is it right to hit a woman whom the man had sworn to love and cherish? What could make a man hit a woman that cannot be settled amicably? Is violence in marriage a way to resolving dispute? Why do women stay with men who cause them trauma and injuries through constant battering? Are men who beat up their wives insane or psychologically unstable? Is woman battering hereditary? 
These questions have become necessary when one considers the rate of domestic violence in many Nigerian homes today. There is no need looking any further to confirm that women are being abused daily by their husbands. On a daily basis, news of domestic violence continues to grab the headlines-some have led to maiming, physical incapacitation and even death. But those are the ones in the public domain. The other category of domestic violence is those we don’t hear about. But they do happen anyway. They occur in homes where the women have been so traumatised that they could not bring themselves to reporting to the authorities or the media for the fear of their abusive husbands.

Domestic violence also cuts across social divide. It is perpetrated by even the elite-be it political, social, and economic and the well-heeled. There have been cases where even so called “men of God’’ turn their wives into punching bags. Recently, a case of domestic violence which was brought to the attention of a court in Lagos caught my attention. The victim had narrated how she had been a victim of perennial battering from her husband in their 10 years old marriage. The woman had confessed how she had been the victim of vicious beatings from her husband. As I read the story, the part that left me in shock was when she revealed how her husband had battered her even while pregnant. At another time she said, with tears flowing, how she endured many miscarriages because of constant beatings. It was horrifying. She said her husband beat her even while nursing their baby. The judge, who found it hard to believe her story, asked the reason behind her violent beatings. The reasons were flimsy.

According to her, she could be battered if his meal was not on time. She could be beaten during a simple argument or over the choice of television channel. She said her husband once got angry and beat her to stupor on a day his favourite English Premiership team lost! The husband who could not offer any cogent explanation for his constant fit of rage only begged her for forgiveness. But the woman who had found her voice was adamant in asking for a divorce.

I thought she should have quit the marriage a long time ago. Why stay in an abusive marriage? I have personally witnessed another case of brutality a woman suffered in the hands of her violent husband. For all the years I had known the couple, the woman was constantly in and out of hospital because of the beatings she received from her violent husband. At first, the recluse couple kept it as a secret but it soon became public knowledge when she suffered broken bones after she was thrown down from the staircase and almost broke her neck. Surprisingly, she never left her husband in spite of entreaties from friends and neighbours.

Cases of spousal abuse have become rampant in recent times. It is also prevalent among unmarried couples. Boys are used to beating up their girlfriends. These young women are often too vulnerable to stand up to their abusive men. They have accepted it as the norm. Once it was reported how a man beat up his wife and in his fit of jealous rage poured acid on her. In Akwa Ibom State, one man dealt a heavy machete blow on his wife on the allegation that she was unfaithful. Now, the question I have often asked is what punishment should be meted out to the man if he was the one found to be unfaithful? I guess it’s a man’s world around here. Domestic violence has also bordered on the extreme. 
The celebrated case of one Gbenga Arowolo who was alleged to have stabbed his banker wife to death in 2011 has reached its climax in a Lagos court. The statistics have also shown that husband-on-wife violence is endemic. According to the United Nations Population Fund, about 50 per cent of women are said to have been battered by their husbands. Intriguingly, most educated women (65 per cent) as compared to their low income counterpart (55 per cent) are being abused. A staggering 95.2 per cent of abused women in Nigeria do not report cases of domestic violence. The law has also failed to protect women against domestic violence. For example, only Ebonyi, Jigawa, Cross Rivers and Lagos states have signed the Violence against Women, Prevention, Protection and Prohibition Bill into law.

Another form of violence is matrimonial rape. This is not even recognised by the laws in Nigeria as of today and there is no talk about it. How can a man who during courtship promised to cherish and take care of his woman turn her tormentor? At what point does a marriage degenerate into a free-for-all? At what point does love take flight and is replaced by hate and violence? It is strange how a man can hit a woman so violently as to maim her. One intriguing factor in this domestic violence issue is the way in which the victims are so powerless that they cannot resist or quit. Some victims will also stay in the marriage in the hope that the man will change. Some will even hide their injuries from friends and family. Some have even defended their violence husband. I have also heard excuses while women cannot quit their violent husbands. I consider these excuses lame and weird.

The family, church, friends and the victims themselves all share the blame. There is no excuse that can justify hitting another human being, let alone one’s wife? There is also no excuse to justify why a woman should remain with an abusive husband. The excuse that the children will suffer or that the dominant religions frown at divorce will not suffice. It also does not matter what the society feels about divorce. Who feels it knows it. Why live with a violent husband if you will end up maimed, blinded, incapacitated or even dead? 
For me, no marriage is worth the trouble when violence has replaced love. Now, a word of advice for the abusive husbands and boyfriends reading this, it is a mark of cowardice to hit any woman. It is also a sign of insanity. You may have to get your heads examined. For the abused wife, I know that you have been told that marriage is for ‘’better and for worse.’’ But the Biblical injunction does not include violence. Leave that abusive husband now before death does you part.

Source: Punch
twitter: @bayoolupohunda.