A Thesis presented by Pastor Godspower of Kings International Theological Seminary.
1.1 The Study’s Background
At the beginning of a thesis like this, a working definition of domestic violence is needed to clarify the context of the study. According to Cynthia Crosson-Tower, domestic violence is an intentional act of violence imposed on one partner by the other, or between adult partners, usually resulting in harm. Abusers use coercion, deception, manipulation, and humiliation to gain power over their intimate partners. The prevalence of domestic violence impacting families is not a topic that is easily discussed at the weekly Wednesday evening “pot-luck” supper because broken relationships in Nigerian households are seen as private matters. Even when there is evidence of abuse, it is common for congregations to look in the other direction in an effort to discount or disregard one of the greatest travesties in our country—the destruction and abuse of the most basic unit of society, the family.
The Church cannot choose to remain ignorant about violence in the home. Victims of domestic violence are more likely to disclose the abuse to someone in their faith community than they are to seek help from the police. This suggests that the church is considered by some to be a place where victims see the potential for assistance.
The question for the church is this: Will we, the church, be a resource and a stronghold for victims?
It does, however, imply that the church is considered by some to be a place where victims see the potential for assistance during one of the greatest trials a family may face. According to research, family violence-related fatalities are becoming increasingly prevalent. Violence in the household has a tendency to escalate if no one intervenes. Domestic violence-related deaths are no longer the exception; they have become the norm in our Nigerian society.
1.2 Importance Of The Research
Response of the church to domestic violence in Nigeria: A silent or active voice to broken families is designed to look into intimate partner violence and abuse as it is one of the greatest threats confronting the Nigerian community and the world today. Since domestic violence and abuse are universal problems, I shall be directing my research on Nigerian society while making references to events around the world. IPV occurs frequently between husbands and their wives. Several gruesome spousal murders, children, and the elderly are not left out in recent cases in Nigeria, and these have brought this issue to media attention.
In Nigeria, traditional practices that subordinate women to the control of male authorities, such as the beating of wives, are seen as normal in Tivi communities in the north. Many customs support polygamy, extramarital affairs, divorce, etc. The major causes of domestic violence and abuse (DVA) in Nigeria are the high levels of poverty and the multiple levels of traditions, cultures, and customs of the various states and ethnic groups in Nigeria. Many Nigerian families find it difficult to eat, pay house rents, school fees, etc. IPV comes with attendant collateral damage, such as high divorce rates, an increase in juvenile delinquency among Nigerian children, and increasing numbers of single-parent, female-headed households.
These abuses can be psychologically, emotionally, sexually, or financially.
Many Nigerian men are used to patriarchal arrangements and adjusting to a new, modern, advancing world with near gender equality and different roles for men and women in relationships becomes a challenge. This engenders acculturative stress, as the advancing world of its education, western culture, and religious faith clashes with the patriarchal cultural orientation of Nigerian men.
Finally, we also want to look into the response of the church, since it is no secret that many religious bodies, for example, Muslims in northern Nigeria, allow the abuse of the wife by the husband, who makes the wife a slave. Abuse of the children and abandonment helped in the insurgency of “BOKO HARAM”. Since the son cannot go for western education, there is no food, no parental care. There is a higher rate of domestic violence in the Muslim communities than in the Christian and Jewish communities. This then forms the background of our study.
1.3 Statement of the Problem
In Nigeria, domestic violence has been a fast-spreading virus. However, not much is known about their help-seeking behaviour and strategies for coping with abuse (Sullivan et al., 2005; Ting & Panchanadeswaran, 2009). Family and community intervention are often the immediate sources of assistance. Many questions remain unresolved about the efficacy of religious coping strategies for domestic violence victims in Nigeria. For instance, it is unknown, for instance, if religious leaders have enough training in partner violence to be able to offer concrete assistance to abused men and women. This study essentially seeks to contribute to the existing body of knowledge about domestic violence victims among Nigerians by examining the effectiveness of religious counselling for domestic violence victims in Nigeria. It also examines the predictors of domestic violence victims among Nigerians, just as it explores the roles of spirituality and religion in coping with domestic violence victims.
The abusive nuclear family’s emotional, spiritual, and even physical state is not easily witnessed or, in many cases, acknowledged by the local church. Unfortunately, families who are members of local churches are sometimes victims of domestic abuse throughout the Christian world, and many do not view the church as a source of assistance.
According to the 2009 Georgia Domestic Abuse Fatality Review, “survivors of domestic violence continue to battle with isolation established inside their relationships and supporting institutions; we must build safer locations for survivors to come forward.”It is concerning that the church is not one of the first places victims of domestic violence go for help. One of the most critical responsibilities of faith-based communities must be for clergy and church leaders to provide support to domestic abuse victims. These victims of family violence need their place of worship to also be a place of refuge, providing emotional, spiritual, and physical support.
In spite of the many initiatives that currently exist to address domestic violence in Nigeria, the crime is still highly prevalent.
Nigeria is largely a Christian community, and it would be expected that religious values would contribute to ending domestic violence and ensuring peaceful families. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Literature suggests that the church all around the world has a major role in ensuring social justice, including domestic violence. Many argue that religion is a personal and institutional reality in the lives of the majority of people, and religious teachings and affiliations provide a significant context for many women as they address experiences of violence. Studies have also shown that clergy members are typically one of the first, if not the first, people to be asked for advice on family problems and domestic violence issues (Bowker and Maurer, 1987:65-82; Rotunda, Williamson & Penfold, 2004:57). Being one of the agents that legally preside over marriages, it is inevitable that couples or families experiencing violence in the marriage will turn to the church for help. Whereas the government and NGOs base their initiatives on domestic violence on human rights frameworks, the churches, being many and diverse, do not have a common set of guiding principles against which they address domestic violence. This means that different churches and clergy deal with domestic violence in different ways, which may not be effective in solving the problem.
1.4 Study Purpose
The purposes of this study are threefold:
(a) To investigate the effectiveness of religious counseling in dealing with domestic violence among Nigerians through the eyes of religious leaders.
(b) To examine the predictors of domestic violence victims among Nigerians,
(c) To comprehend how Nigerian religious leaders who have interacted with domestic violence victims and perpetrators define and perceive the prevalence of IPV in Nigeria.
Despite the growing literature on domestic violence victims among Nigerians, there is a paucity of research on how religiosity as a coping mechanism has affected the prevalence of domestic violence victims among Nigerians today. The need for this study arises from the devastating effects of domestic violence on the Nigerian community. This study is necessary because patriarchy underlies the attitudes of many Nigerian men about gender roles. Previous research on Africans in the diaspora points to how the accumulated acculturative stress resulting from migration accounts for some of the tension in intimate partner relationships and may result in partner violence. Abused Nigerian female citizens often resort to ecclesiastical counselling as a coping strategy, making the role of religious leaders in negotiating domestic violence crucial.
1.5 Objectives Of The Study.
To investigate the role of the church in responding to domestic violence among their followers and to determine the effectiveness of their responses. To find out the role of the church in
- Resolution of domestic violence in Nigeria
- supporting the Federal Government’s intervention on the issue of domestic violence and abuse.
- The supply of effective education for domestic violence victims is low.
- The fight against those evil traditions and customs fueling domestic violence and abuse of a spouse.
- On reducing poverty and its agents militating against family peace in Nigeria,
- Examine the clergy’s understanding of domestic violence.
- Determine the framework that informs the church’s response to domestic violence in Nigeria.
To determine the effectiveness of the church in addressing domestic violence.
- Find out the professional training of clergy in order to determine if this affects their individual response to domestic violence.
- Do clergy in Nigeria generally accept that domestic violence is a prevalent occurrence in the Christian communities?
- What guides church leaders in Nigeria in their response to domestic violence?
- How effective is the church in addressing domestic violence?
- Are clergy adequately trained to provide an effective response to victims of domestic violence?
Justification of the Study
The underlying aim of this study is to increase understanding of domestic violence and uncover ways to decrease its prevalence in Nigeria by targeting the Christian community, which is the most widely practised religion in the country. This study will add to the existing research on domestic violence but will be unique in that it explores specifically the role of the clergy and church. In addition, the findings of this study will enable institutions working on domestic violence to determine ways in which they can work with the church.
This study will also inform the churches on the effectiveness of their methods of addressing domestic violence. At the national and strategic level, this study will contribute new knowledge that will inform the development of a national strategy to address broader issues of sexual and gender-based violence. The study will also illuminate the training needs of the clergy for bible colleges and theological schools in the development of their counselling curricula.
Lastly, this study will identify the special training needs of church leaders in order for them to contribute to solving the problem of domestic violence in Nigeria.
1.8 Study Scope and Limitations
This study was limited to analyzing the church role in addressing domestic violence which is only one aspect of gender-based violence. Further studies would need to be carried out to cover other aspects of gender-based violence. The study also focused on the church only rather than looking at a wider view of religions hence it would be important for other studies to explore how other religions respond to domestic violence issues.
However, there are financial constraints, time constraints, etc. plus the death of the president and founder of KITS, Arch. Bishop P.C. Chukwumah, PHD, DD.
1.9 Ethical Considerations in Research
Ely and Azul (1991:45) suggest that qualitative research is an ethical endeavour. It is impossible to confine ethical considerations to certain sections; they are present from the start and woven throughout every step of the methodology. For this study, the following ethical considerations were followed: First, all respondents were thoroughly briefed through an introductory note at the beginning of the questionnaires, while the key informant respondents were verbally briefed on the study prior to the interviews.
Secondly, the respondents to both the questionnaires and key informant interviews were assured of the principles of privacy and anonymity. Hence, no names have been used in this project paper.
Violence has been defined as the use of coercive forms of power, the use of force, or the threat of its use to compel someone to do something that they might not otherwise do. Violence against a spouse means any act of violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, financial, emotional, or psychological harm or suffering, including threats of such acts. Coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life,
Gender-Based Violence is violence involving men and women, in which the female is usually the victim; and which is derived from unequal power relationships / between men and women. Gender-based violence is violence that is directed at individuals on the basis of their gender, and boys and men can also be the target (although women and girls tend to be the majority of victims).
Domestic violence is abuse involving intimate partners. Domestic violence can occur between men and women, between men and children, between women and children, and occasionally between women and men. Frequently, the violence is a combination of physical, sexual, psychological, emotional, and financial abuse that occurs in a cyclic and intensifying pattern that can ultimately result in serious assaults with weapons or even death. Domestic violence also encompasses economic control and social isolation. It is acknowledged that domestic violence is prevalent in all racial, educational, geographic, and socioeconomic segments of society.
The church is a body of Christian believers, holding the same creed, observing the same rites, and acknowledging the same ecclesiastical authority.
Clergy are the pastors that serve the members of the church. They are usually the designated leaders, such as a pastor, priest, reverend, or bishop.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: A BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW MODEL
When law enforcement is summoned to a scene of domestic violence, the officer’s role is to determine what offense has occurred. The topic of research for this paper will focus on married couples and the impact of abusive conduct on the spouse and children. Local, county, and state laws are in place to protect victims of violence.
In Genesis, God’s wonderful creation is completed with the creation of a woman from a man’s rib. Adam lacked a proper helper, so God created one in the form of a man’s rib. From the outset of the Bible, it is clear that the Lord values the married connection and the family.
The service of holy matrimony According to The Book of Common Prayer requires the man to say, “In the name of God, I, N., take you, N., to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death.” When we study the vows made in Christian marriage, we see that acts of violence done by a spouse against his or her spouse are in direct contrast to the vows that contain commitments to love and adore. How difficult it must be for an abuse survivor to come into contact with members of society, particularly Christians, who deny or reject God’s design for marriage, which is a call to love, mutual respect, and edifying.
Ephesians 5:22-24 says, “For the husband is the head of the woman, just as Christ is the body of the Church, his body, and is himself its Savior.” Many victims of domestic abuse avoid church relationships because church leaders tell them that the Bible commands them to submit to their husbands. The reasoning is stated in Ephesians: “Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:22–24: Does the Lord condone and sanction the use of violence by a husband against his wife in the Old and New Testaments? Is it biblical for a wife to stay in an abusive marriage if her life or the lives of her children are in danger? These are tough issues to answer since society and, in many circumstances, the Church avoid discussing domestic violence. As a result, a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh (Eph 5: 25-26; 28-31/ESV).
Focusing simply on the first verse of this scripture (rather than the complete passage) distorts and confuses the Apostle Paul’s intended meaning. According to John MacArthur3, it is wicked to use scripture to entrap and keep spouses as physical and emotional prisoners. According to him, the husband’s principal role as head of the home is to love, care for, protect, and serve his wife and family. A husband is not to regard his wife as a servant or a kid, but as an equal to whom God has entrusted care and duty for supply and protection, to be carried out in love. According to MacArthur, the woman is not for the husband to command. When used in the Greek middle voice (as in Eph 5:21/ESV), huptasso (to abandon one’s rights) underlines the willingness to submit oneself.
The closeness of the creation and the call to combine man and woman are discussed in the ESV Study Bible commentary. The author of that interpretation emphasizes the verse, “When no fitting companion is found among all living beings, God constructs a lady from the man’s own flesh” (Gn 2:23/ESV). This isn’t like a commercial arrangement that can be broken up. Marriage, on the other hand, is a sacred trust that should not be taken lightly.
Societal Roles May Change, But The Call To Love Remains
In the Ten Commandments, Jochem Douma addresses the influence of sin on the identification of roles in marriage. There is a link between the devastation caused by extramarital affairs and the physical abuse linked to a marriage commitment. The ideal connection of equality, designed at Creation, was broken by sin and can only be restored by God’s love in Christ. “The wife’s obedience to her husband is fashioned after Christ’s headship over the Church,” says Douma. Pastor: How can churches avoid preaching about men’s responsibilities to care for and respect their wives? A spouse attempting to salvage his marriage reports that his wife is depressed and distrustful. The husband wishes to rebuild the marriage, but he has asked the Lord to work in and through his life. The spouse discusses his marriage after 17 years of marriage.
As a husband, he is obligated to love his wife in the same way that Christ first loved the Church, writes the husband. And, while he had never physically attacked his wife, his vocal outbursts had caused mental harm. “Husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, paying reverence to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life,” says 1 Peter 3:1-2. The ESV Study Bible meets the biblical command to husbands front on. Women, according to Peter, are not inferior to males because they are both created in the image of God. How can a husband love his wife if he uses violence against her? Likewise, women, be subservient to your own husbands, so that even if some do not follow the word, they may be won without saying anything by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your “respectful and clean conduct…
There is nothing in 1Peter encourages or condones the mistreatment of spouses or suggests that women should continue to subject themselves to such treatment. Peter is explicitly referring to the hardship that might result from standing up for an unpopular idea and doing what is good and right in the name of Christ. In the encouragement to spouses that soon follows, Peter subtly bans marital violence. In the marital covenant, the husband is obligated to love and adore the one to whom he is married. Mistreatment and abuse of a spouse are never consistent with submission.
Husbands are called to love their wives.
The ESV Study Bible commentary says of the husband’s harshness, “There was a trend in the Roman culture for men to rage furiously against their wives and abuse them.” The thesis of that scripture text is that violence towards wives and children is both wrong and unbiblical. Husbands should clearly realize that scripture requires them to love and cherish the “helpmate” God has given them in marriage. In Ephesians 5:25, Paul instructs men to love their spouses as Christ loved the church. It should also be clear that scripture does not lessen the worth of women, says John MacArthur.
A spouse who is abusive and the father of two children has been ordered to keep away from his wife. The child is in state care owing to the father’s aggressive conduct and the mother’s profession. Gender roles are (at best) perplexing for many young people who are developing a new notion of what it means to be married. Many children are raised in single-parent households or see their father very rarely, on weekends. There is a distinction between what the Bible refers to as husbands and wives in marriage and family connections and what is observed in society today.
A young girl abandoned her family in a world of torture, living in constant fear for her own life and, later, the safety of her children. Cicero said that “no ambushed foes are harder to detect than those who conceal their aim with a false loyalty or in the name of some necessity.” That is why the heavenly truth, “A man’s foes are even those in his own home” (Mt 10:36), is heard with tremendous grief in the heart. Even if a guy is strong enough to take it calmly, he must suffer greatly when he discovers that they are evil, whether they are nice or wicked. Chapter four of this article provides an in-depth examination of the history and consequences of domestic violence. It is vital to note that the scriptural instructions provided to men and women on marriage are not the same.
Religion, culture, and domestic violence in Nigeria.
In Nigeria, religion and culture are interwoven, as beliefs and practices are uniquely cultural. Nigerians are highly religious, practising Christianity, African Traditional Religion, and Islam. These religions are the major belief systems, and in some homes, we have people practising all of them (Teefah, 2019).
Religious leaders are held in high esteem with respect, love, and most importantly, fear (Teefah, 2019). Therefore, religion plays a major role in the lives of almost all individuals in Nigeria. The patriarchal system in Nigeria subjects women to violence, and religion is used as a tool for correcting behaviour and exerting male dominance, especially in marriages (Teefah, 2019).
Churches, mosques, and shrines play major roles in shaping the beliefs and perceptions of victims of domestic violence in the country. There are religious ideologies on women being inferior to men, the perception of women as “unclean” and the portrayal of virtuous women as “submissive”. The frown on divorce by some religious sects makes it further difficult for victims to leave abusive marriages, all of which endorse domestic violence (Teefah, 2019).
Domestic Violence In Nigeria: Men Are Victims Too.
The topic of domestic violence against men is one that is largely unspoken about, especially in Nigeria. In most cases of domestic abuse, our first instinct is to assume that a man is a perpetrator while the woman is the victim. Even though this could be true, as is the case in many instances, the issue of violence against men is more rampant than we know.
Domestic violence, otherwise known as domestic abuse, spousal abuse, family violence, or intimate partner violence, is a type of behaviour that involves the abuse of one partner by the other. It could be verbal, sexual, or psychological in nature and usually occurs in various forms, ranging from threat to harm, physical aggression or assault, emotional abuse, and oppression, amongst other acts. It also extends to any other type of controlling behaviour that could potentially harm the health, safety, and wellbeing of its victim.
Although the subject of domestic violence against men is gaining increasing popularity, it is still treated with less importance, especially in comparison to violence against women. This could be attributed to a number of reasons, one of which is underreporting. Underreporting of incidents where men are abused by their partners is a major problem. The norm, particularly in Nigeria, is that most men hardly report such cases because they fear that they may be perceived as being less masculine. Recent research by the BMJ OpenJournal revealed the “fear of disclosure” as a problem caused by society, which has placed a burden on men not to act weak. In most cases, the male sufferer chooses not to tell anyone because he may feel he has not lived up to the societal notion of manliness, or rather, the dictates of manly ideals.
While some men stay in abusive relationships because they are fully committed to their partners, others may be hanging on because they do not want to lose custody of their children to abusive spouses. For some, they may persevere to a point where they are too emotionally distressed to leave. Another class of men are those who took steps to seek help, but encountered negative experiences and then gave up fighting back. They may have stepped out hoping that someone would believe them, but that is not always the case. For the last group, things will have degenerated to the point where the male sufferer doesn’t even see himself as a victim, which makes it difficult to help him. With all these barriers and more, we are left to wonder: how many more men are silent sufferers of domestic abuse from their spouses?
In most cases, the issue of violence against men is largely overlooked due to the immense pressure on them to act like all is well, even when it is not. This makes more men reluctant to draw attention to their domestic abuse situation. The sad fact remains that, as of today, husband punching, kicking, slapping, sex deprivation and killing are realities that occur in Nigeria on a regular basis. Social media has further beamed the spotlight on male domestic abuse cases by providing quick access to proof through the circulation of pictures and videos of maltreatment of men by their spouses, albeit for different reasons.
It would appear that recounting domestic violence from the male victim’s perspective is quite uncommon, as most people are quick to assume that men are not usually known to be at the receiving end of physical aggression. In a largely patriarchal society like Nigeria’s, where the males are expected to be more dominant due to their physical strength, it can be considered shameful to hear that a man was threatened or beaten by his partner.
In comparison to women, who are usually encouraged to speak freely when they are trapped in abusive relationships or marriages, men are not known to easily voice their grievances, not even to close friends and relatives. Public ridicule and harsh criticism are other factors that keep men from speaking out. Aside from that, there is a chance that by reporting the incident to the appropriate authorities, the victim will be labelled as the aggressor. Male sufferers of domestic violence typically require a higher burden of proof or a more convincing story to justify their claims.
Domestic abuse of men is just as important as any other gender-based violence issue and in addressing it, there are various ways in which the male sufferer could seek help. The first is to speak up as soon as possible. The victim could start by talking to a friend, relative, health care provider or any other close contact. Also, awareness made through social programs can also help by reminding male victims that they too can get justice. A good example is the mankind initiative which reassures male victims through its motto: “remember that you are not to blame, you are not weak and you are not alone”.
In Nigeria, domestic violence against men was a rarely discussed subject until recent years, when more men began to speak against it. Sadly, some cases have seen the brutal end of victims who died from it. While we ponder this, we must cautiously note that domestic abuse is not about gender, size, or physical strength.
There is also a need to view domestic abuse from a psychological perspective rather than basing it on socio-cultural expectations and existing stereotypical norms. In fact, a total cultural paradigm shift is necessary to change public perception to a point where everyone should know that men and women could both be aggressors of domestic violence and it is not related to only one gender. It is also important to squash the lopsided view that it is only weak men that experience domestic abuse. A total reformation of this mentality could also be encouraged by recommending anti-battery values to school curriculums all over Nigeria, as this would inculcate early recognition of the existence of domestic violence against men and ways to curb it.
Male sufferers of domestic abuse should be allowed to speak their truth without being victimised. Since it is an open secret that men too suffer from it, they should also be allowed to talk about it. Likewise, all aspects of the Nigerian criminal justice system, particularly the police system and other agencies, should also be taught to handle domestic violence complaints from men with some form of neutrality and open-mindedness.
Recent years have seen the trial and conviction of Nigerian women who battered and murdered their husbands. More sanction measures should be put in the public domain in order to serve as a deterrent to other women who are exhibiting such tendencies. It is hoped that shedding light on the present realities of domestic abuse of men would balance the scales of gender-based violence discussions, especially in Nigeria.
Although there are national laws against domestic violence, there is also a greater need for precise regional and international laws that specifically protect the rights of men. For instance, the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Maputo Protocol exist to protect the rights of women. Who says men don’t need one too?
Nigeria has the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act, 2015, which was enacted to eliminate various types of violent acts. It covers offences like spousal battery, emotional and psychological abuse, and intimidation, amongst others. Lagos State, in particular, has its own prohibition of violence law alongside the Lagos State Domestic and Violence Team, which respond to the needs of domestic violence survivors.
Many do not understand that domestic violence is a human rights issue that curtails other rights, such as the rights to liberty and freedom of expression. Its effects can be very overwhelming, the impact of which could lead to serious mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, inferiority complex, post-traumatic stress disorder, and, in worse cases, the suicide of its victim. No amount of excuse would give reasonableness to the domestic abuse of a spouse by the other. Abuse should be addressed across the board and irrespective of gender because violence against men or women is an injustice to all.
Preventing Gender Violence And Sexual Abuse In Nigeria: A Religious Approach
This paper examines the role of religious approaches in preventing gender violence and sexual abuse in Nigeria. It, first of all, makes clarification of certain key concepts used in this paper. These include religious approaches, gender violence and sexual abuse. The paper makes a review of gender violence and sexual abuses in Nigeria. The paper also discusses the possible means religion can adopt in the prevention of gender violence and sexual abuse in Nigeria. The paper utilized an inter-disciplinary method in gathering information. Findings from the research revealed that sexual abuse and gender violence is endemic in Nigerian society. The paper recommends among others, that the government should formulate policies that would both guide against sexual harassment and gender violence as well as empowers women to participate actively in the formulation of policies and governance in Nigeria.
Gender violence and sexual abuse are vices that affect mankind globally today. In many parts of the world, including Nigeria, gender violence and sexual abuse have both theological and cultural roots that date back to the origin of mankind (Angagbu, 1979). The theological root of gender violence and sexual abuse in many parts of the world is evidenced by male domination over female counterparts. In Nigeria, for example, research carried out by scholars shows a high percentage of abuse by male counterparts. In most cases, women are regarded as second class or subordinate groups, and in most cases, they are dehumanized and sexually abused by men. Bella (1970) affirmed that the subjugation of women in most parts of the world is based on their social, economic, and political status and on the roles they perform in society. Although women are said to be reproduced by socialization in many parts of the world, the Nigerian case is a harmonious balance between the male and female sexes. The Nigerian people considered equality between men and women as ordained by God for the unity of creatures created by him. In some cultures of Africa, there are prejudices, negative attitudes, and customs that negate the equality of men and women.
Those who follow the gender inequality school of thought argue that even in a family setting, socialization contributes significantly to the inferiority of females to male counterparts (Bella, 1970). Women, according to this school of thought, are weaker sex by nature and cannot be equated with men. This philosophy of reducing the status of women to subordinate groups makes their actions seem innocuous and psychologically dehumanizes them. It also impedes them from engaging themselves in hard work, especially as many people doubt their capabilities or look down on women when performing tougher functions in society. This denial of women’s rights and participation in the development of society has both economic and political implications for the larger society, and Nigeria is not an exception. The discrimination against women has dimensions that include gender violence and sexual abuse, which makes it impossible for their male counterparts to contribute their worth.
The systematical exclusion of Nigerian women from the development agenda degenerates into gender violence and sexual abuse in all ramifications. This paper, therefore, highlights the religious approaches to preventing gender violence and sexual abuse in Nigeria. The paper calls for a change of world view of Nigerian people concerning gender issues, especially gender violence and sexual abuse, especially of women in contemporary times. Conceptual Clarifications The key concepts that need clarifications are gender violence, sexual abuse and religious approach. Gender Violence The word gender comes from the Middle English gender, a loanword from Norman-conquest-era Old French. This, in turn, came from the Latin genus. Both words mean ‘kind’, ‘type’, or ‘sort’. They derive ultimately from a widely attested Proto-Indo-European (PIE) root which is also the source of kin, king, king, and many other English words (Atojoko, 2000). It appears in Modern French in the word genre (type, kind, also genre sexual and is related to the Greek root gen to produce, appearing in the gene, genesis, and oxygen. As a verb, it means breed in the King James Bible. Gender discrimination (also known as gender inequality, gender egalitarianism, or sexual inequality) therefore refers to the sex discrimination stemming from a belief in the injustice of myriad forms of gender inequality.
The word violence, on the other hand, denotes any kind of behaviour that one person uses to control another through fear and intimidation (Della, 2003). It includes emotional and psychological abuse, battering, sexual assault, and acid attacks (Uchem, 2000). Gender violence against women refers to all forms of inhuman conditions targeted at particular sex such as oppressions, adverse conditions and inhuman treatments against women or womanhood (Blood & Wolf, 1994:30-35).
In the context of this paper, therefore, gender violence can be defined as any act of gender violence that results in physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion, or arbitrary deprivation of liberty in public or private life. It encompasses physical, sexual, and psychological evidence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female mutilation, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions, in religious worship, and elsewhere, trafficking in women, and forced prostitution (ECA-WIDNET, 1997). The harmful effects of this violence result in the humiliation, open ridicule, and torture of women in Nigerian society (Nwocha, 2000). The lack of laws that prohibit violence against women and the failure to enforce or promote awareness of existing laws have been detrimental to the protection of women or men against acts of brutality. Lack of sensitivity towards women or men in the media has adverse impacts on teenage girls who, in most cases, fall victim to rape or adoption by their male counterparts in many cultures of Nigerian society. There are dehumanizing cultural practices such as widowhood rites and female genital mutilation that are acts of violence against women. Available statistics gathered by Murphy (1997) indicate that in Nigeria, one out of every three women has suffered violence in an intimate relationship at some point in her life. These statistics are an average based on available national surveys across industrialized and developing countries.
Sexual abuse refers to sexual activity where consent is not obtained or freely given (John Paul II). The National Centre on Elder Abuse describes sexual violence as “the abuse of sex” and “non-consenting sexual contact of any kind,” including unwanted touching; sexual assault or battery, such as rape, sodomy, and coerced nudity; sexually explicit photographing; and sexual contact with any person incapable of giving consent. 2Jurisdictions and agencies define “elderly” differently, but typically as commencing at the age of 60 or 65 (Oduyoye, 1996). The victims who experience sexual abuse are mostly female.
The person responsible for the violence is typically male and is usually someone known to the victim. The person can be but is not limited to, a friend, co-worker, neighbour, or family member. There are many types of sexual abuse. Not all include physical contact between the victim and the perpetrator (person who harms someone else) – for example, sexual harassment, threats, and peeping. Other sexual abuse, including unwanted touching and rape, includes physical contact. Sexual abuse can impact health in many ways. Some ways are serious and can lead to long-term health problems. These include chronic pain, headaches, stomach problems, and sexually transmitted diseases (Atado, 1991). Sexual abuse can have an emotional impact as well. Victims often are fearful and anxious. They may replay the attack over and over in their minds. They may have problems with trust and be wary of becoming involved with others. The anger and stress that victims feel may lead to eating disorders and depression. Some even think about or attempt suicide. Sexual abuse is linked to sexual violence and negative health behaviours.
For example, victims are more likely to smoke, abuse alcohol, use drugs, and engage in risky sexual activity. Sexual violence is a significant problem in Africa and the United States. Among high school students surveyed nationwide, about 8% reported having been forced to have sex. The percentage of those having been forced to ever have sex was higher among female (11%) than male (5%) students. An estimated 20% to 25% of college women in the United States have experienced an attempted or complete rape during their college career. At some point in their lives, nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men in the United States have been raped. These numbers underestimate the problem. Many cases are not reported because victims are afraid to tell the police, friends, or family about the abuse (both Well, 1983). Victims also believe that their stories of abuse will not be believed and that the police will be unable to assist them. They may be ashamed or embarrassed. Victims may also keep quiet because they have been threatened with further harm if they tell anyone. Certain factors can increase the risk of sexual abuse. However, the presence of these factors does not mean that sexual abuse will occur.
Risk factors for perpetration (harm to someone else) include:
- Being male
- Having friends that are sexually aggressive
- Witnessing or experiencing violence as a child
- Alcohol or drug use?
- Being exposed to social norms, or shared beliefs, that support sexual violence (Sukhdeo, 2006).
Sexual abuse can affect individuals across the lifespan, including people in later life. Many older victims have survived multiple victimizations over the course of their lives. Recognition of sexual abuse against people in later life is hindered by misconceptions that older adults are not sexual beings or sexually desirable and that rape is a crime of passion. A high percentage of victims experience significant health problems and disabilities that increase vulnerability and reduce help-seeking. Due to age-related physiological changes, older victims tend to sustain more serious physical and psychological injuries during an assault than younger victims.
Some of the signs and symptoms of sexual abuse against people in later life include:
- Genital injuries, human bite marks, imprint injuries, and bruising on the thighs, buttocks, breasts, face, neck, and other areas.
- Fear, anxiety, mistrust, and dramatic changes in victims’ behaviour.
- Eyewitness reports and disclosures by victims
- Others noticed suspicious behaviour of perpetrators.
- It is likely that sexual abuse against people in later life is highly underreported.
Many barriers impede the effective response and prevention of sexual abuse against older victims, including:
- Social stigma and barriers prevent individuals from discussing sexual activities or sexual abuse openly.
- Disabling conditions that interfere with making reports
- The victim’s fear of further harm.
- Victim’s reluctance to report, especially if the perpetrator is a family member v. Misinterpretation of disclosure as part of dementia and of physical evidence as “normal” markings on an older body.
- Delayed medical and police assistance and contamination of physical evidence (Hutchinson, 1998).
These signs and symptoms are common among victims of sexually abused genders all over the world. A Religious Approach The term “religion” is not easy to define. This difficulty stems from the changing nature of the subject, which makes it impossible for one definition to cater for all aspects of religion.
According to Ekpo (1999), religion is an attitude of the mind that encompasses motives and beliefs that are expressed in acts of worship such as prayers and rituals. Nigosian (1975) describes religion in terms of beliefs, feelings, and conduct. Idowu (1973), believes that religion in its essence is the means by which God as spirit and man’s essential self-communicate. For Anyanwu (1999), religion has to do with man’s relationship to the unseen world. A synthesis of the various definitions shows that religion is man’s interaction with supernatural forces. In Nigeria, this interaction can be through the traditional religious rites, Muslim beliefs or Christian practices (Udofia, 1999). The word approach on the other hand connotes a method of explaining and interpreting historical events that have taken place in society. 110 International Journal of Gender and Women’s Stud
A “religious approach” therefore refers to a systematic presentation of religious events or historical facts by describing their major tenets as found in different African societies (Ikenga-Metuh, 1984). The religious approach centres on the main items of belief and practices common to most African societies—gender, sexuality, and the system of morality. However, variations and divergences in world views are pointed out where they exist.
An Overview of Domestic Violence, Gender Violence and Sexual Abuse In Nigeria
Gender violence and sexual abuse are common evil acts that have characterized Nigerian society in modern times. They are evil acts that affect mostly women in Nigerian society. These practices have both cultural and educational roots that are linked to race, tribe, sex, and language, thereby lowering the status of women. There are those who argue that gender violence and sexual abuse against women have their roots in the creation account, where a woman was fashioned out of a man’s rib for the purpose of procreation. This school of thought is vehemently opposed to the possession of a woman in her full human nature by a man. While other scholars upheld the view of human equality of men and women as being of full identical nature, created in the image of God. These two contradictory views, however, pose the problem of gender violence and sexual abuse among human beings in society. There are traditionalists who propose gender inequality for women in Nigerian society. In their viewpoints, women are subordinate to men because they were created out of men’s ribs, and as such, they are the property of men (Ushe, 2010). This outmoded notion about women still exists in many cultures of Nigerian society. These false beliefs include that a man has right over the body of a woman, that every woman must depend on a male provider, that it is a waste of time to educate women when they get married and so forth. Nigerian traditions and religions also teach women to stick to their husbands, to be subordinate to their husbands, to be patient and to endure everything so as to save their families (Eph. 5:15-24).
In many Nigerian cultures, women have inadequate legal protection because issues involving husbands and wives are culturally considered “private” and, hence, no one would like to interfere in the private affairs of the home (Mutanga, 2004). Even the customary laws have their limitations. In most cases, customary law, dowry land ownership, inheritance, and naming of children discriminate against women in Nigerian society. This sometimes leads to violence, disfigurements, abuses, lost opportunities, and interference with the confidence of women in society at large. The consequences of this are that the women may fly into rages and isolate themselves from their male counterparts. Many of them may even think that men are meant to dominate and control women (Kratcoski, 2003). Gender violence and sexual abuse occur both in families, religious institutions, workplaces and educational institutions in Nigerian society. They are committed mostly against women and have a great impact on their social status in society. Gender violence and sexual abuse take three major forms: physical violence, sexual abuse, and psychological violence. These forms of violence cut across racial, cultural, and religious backgrounds. According to Amnesty International (2010), violence against a spouse, children, and siblings has been described as an asymptomatic breakdown of social control. Amnesty International, in its publication, reported that nearly two-thirds of women in Nigeria are believed to have experienced physical and psychological violence as well as sexual abuse (Nimeh, 2000). Women are often beaten and punished by men for supposed transgressions. Some of them are raped and even murdered by men. In some cases, vicious acid attacks leave women with horrific disfigurements (Afro-News, 2010).
Gender violence and sexual abuse are frequently excused and tolerated in some societies where women are assigned inferior roles, and subordinate to the male who is heads of the families. They are looked upon as properties of their husbands (Anozie, 2010). Many husbands are responsible for most of the violence against their wives and these evil acts affect them to a larger degree. In Nigeria, gender violence and sexual abuse affects everybody, including children who are traumatized by the abuse. They both have a broader spectrum which includes child abuse, elder abuse and violent acts between family members (Akpan, 2000).
Gender violence and sexual abuse consist of many types, such as spouse/partner abuse, child abuse, elder abuse, parent abuse, emotional abuse, economic abuse, social abuse, stalking, psychological abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect, etc. This violence is perpetrated by people, systems, and structures created and operated by human beings (Dayo, 1990). This clearly shows that there is a personal, systematic, structural, and institutional dimension to the problem. There are two sides to the issue: why do men sexually harass women, and why do women appear to accept the beating and stay? Psychologists and domestic violence counsellors explain that violence is a learned behaviour. In many cases, men who are abused or become abusive and women who are abused or become abusive grew up in homes where violence occurred. In such a situation, a child can grow up believing that violence is acceptable behaviour. Many boys may learn that this is a way to be powerful (Godsmith, 1992). If a child grows up in a home with physical violence and sexual abuse, he is more likely to use violence and sexual abuse in his own family (Gelles, 1997). Some psychiatrists, on the other hand, believe that only a small percentage of cases show that a psychological disorder triggered sexual violent behaviour.
Ushe, Mike Ushe, 111, However, in the majority of cases, other reasons can explain men’s abusive behaviour. Men who abuse women convince themselves that they have the right to do so. Abusive men tend to be extremely jealous, possessive and easily angered (Egwu, 2001). Many flew into a rage because their spouse called their mother too often or because she did not fulfil his expectation in a particular area, and may try to isolate their wives by limiting their contact with their families and friends. These kinds of men have low self-esteem and feel vulnerable and powerless. They are more likely to have experienced violence in childhood and pin the blame for their abusive behaviours on someone or something other than themselves. Alcohol is a strong contributory factor in many cases of domestic violence in Nigeria. Many women stay with their abusive partners and the seeds for sexual abuse are sown early in the women’s lives. In many Nigerian societies, violence and sexual abuse begin even before the abusers are born. Female children are implicitly rejected by their family’s quest for male children. The women do not seem to be of value enough to stand on their own dignity and insist on being respected (Ushe, 2010). Sometimes, religious teachings bind women into accepting humiliation as if it is the same as the Christian virtue of humanity (Oguonu, 2005). Women often blame themselves for acts committed against them instead of recognizing that no one deserves violence and sexual abuse. Because of the social belief that it is culturally permissible for a husband to beat up or sexually abuse his wife or a father to beat his children, women are taught not to complain against their husbands in Nigerian society. After a long time of being sexual abuse, women may become accustomed to it and fearful and therefore unable to take steps to leave the situation of abuse. Most of them do not know that there is sometimes a possibility of gathering justice from the police or the courts (Rothblum & Cole, 1990). Gender violence and sexual abuse can say to be physical brutality by men against women when they are not treated with love and care. This may be in form of rape and violation of their sexual rights (Tomaseski, 1993). Rape subjugates the women, robs them of their dignity and mocks them in the face of society (Us Bishops, 1992). The atrocity when committed in front of the man as an instrument of violence against women, further deepens the pain. Most often this is done by men to show their superiority over women. The trauma and stigma often haunt the women for the rest of their lives. Many Nigerian societies consider women to be inferior and weak, while men are given the credit as the decision-makers (John Paul II, 1981). This wrong conception of women and violation of their human rights by Nigerians originated from considering them as a lower class than men (Kisembo, Magesa & Shorter, 1998).
The belief is also rooted in patriarchy, where the power and rule of the fathers or men through ritual, tradition, laws and language, customs, education, and the division of labour determine what part women shall or shall not play and in which the female is everywhere subsumed under the male (Adesanya, 1973). This philosophical thought socializes women to remain “silent” and in most cases promotes social inequalities between men and women. This leads to women’s subordination not only within the family but also in society and in the church as a whole (Andrian, 1978). Female circumcision is another worst form of gender violence and it has roots in ancient culture and religious practices of African people, especially in the western part of the continent. Blood and Wolf assert that the practice is most prevalent among the Nigerian people such as Ogun, Niger, Rivers and Borno States female genital mutilation cases are high with a prevalence rate of 95.7 per cent, 93.3 and 82.6 respectively (UNIFEM, 2002). Kebbi State records the least number of cases of female genital mutilations with only 0.2 per cent prevalence (Zierler, Witbeck & Mayer, 1996).
According to a study carried out by the United Nations Children’s Funds (UNICEF), the practice of female genital mutilation is generally low in the Northern States like Adamawa, Kogi and Yobe, recording 1.0 per cent, 1.1 per cent and 0.0 per cent prevalence rate respectively, while southern states like Delta, Cross River, Imo and Anambra State have a very high number of female genital mutilation cases (Cutrufelli, 1983). Gender violence and sexual abuse subjects the women to emotional and psychological tortures leading to frustrations or even death. In many cultures of Nigeria, widows are mostly victims of those who suffer psychological violence. Sometimes, the windows are subjected to a number of oppressive and dehumanizing treatments. These include compelling them to perform burial rituals like sleeping on the bare floor, wearing rags, remaining indoors, eating food from broken unwashed plates, not taking bath for several days or weeks, and forcing the widow to drink water that was used in washing the late husband’s corpse, by taking the oath publicly to prove her innocence of not being responsible for the husband’s death, by losing her rights to the deceased husband’s property and by exercising her from the society if she refuses to take the oath or drink the water used in washing the husband’s corpse. International Journal of Gender and Women’s Studies, Vol. 3(1),
June 2015 The widow is also subjected to other psychological tortures and expected to mourn her husband’s death for a period of time and throughout this period she must wear dresses that depicted their mood of mourning (Hardon, 1981). During the mourning period, the widow wore black clothes and she is not permitted to do things such as: step out of the house for forty days, cook and touch any food meant for another member of the family. The widow is seen as unclean until she has undergone all the relevant traditional rites. In Calabar, Cross River state, widows have no rights to their husband’s estate. A widow who remarries forfeits the right to her husband’s property. Although the customary law which governs most marriages in Nigeria forbids the married wife from owning the property of the deceased husband, many Nigerian women have condemned this practice in strong terms. Islamic marriages thus, confer more rights to the husband’s properties than customary marriages. In Islamic law, a widow is entitled to one-quarter of the deceased husband’s property. But if the deceased has children and grandchildren, the widow would be entitled to one-eighth of the property (Ushe, 2010). On the contrary, since Christian marriages are governed by statutory laws which guarantee some measures of legal equality with respect to property ownership most Nigerian societies usually invoke customary laws to inherit the property of the deceased (Ushe, 2007).
The above facts indicate that in Nigeria, gender violence and sexual abuse acts such as marital rape, adoption, sexual harassment at work, within educational institutions or religious institutions, child marriage, forced prostitution and trafficking of women are harmful traditional practices that violate the fundamental human rights of women and limits the development of their capabilities and integration into the society’s development process. Although early marriage and forced marriage enjoy legal backing in Sharia Law as practised in Northern Nigeria and among some Muslim communities of South-Western Nigeria, they reveal the low status to which women and young girls have been relegated in Nigerian society. The widespread assumption that women have no alternative roles other than housekeeping and child-bearing is wrong and should be corrected (Watts, 1991). According to the civil liberty organization study, most parents give out their daughters for early marriages because they want to protect family honour by preventing teenage pregnancy. Thus, they would rather give their daughters out in marriage early to avoid having to waste money on their education or to earn money for their dowry. And since there is yet no known law to check the harmful practice of early marriage, many young girls fell victims to such practices in many societies of the world today, including Nigeria.
Domestic Violence, Gender Violence, and Sexual Abuse in Nigeria: What Causes It?
There are many causes of domestic violence, gender violence, and sexual abuse in the world today, especially in Nigeria. Among the most notable are:
- The unequal relationship between men and women in society and the church. By nature, our being male and female has no intrinsic hierarchy. What we call women’s place in one human culture is man’s place in another. There is nothing permanent about human beings as culturally defined. Neither men nor women should be tied to predetermined roles. Women are often violated when defined by their sexual abuse and rational roles only, while prominence is given to other adventurers or masculine roles for men (Gelles & Cote, 1999). The same thing goes for the many proverbs and metaphors, generalizations and stereotypes that idealize women (Giddens, 1992).
- When a man or a woman feels the need to control and dominate her partner. When the husband feels such a need to control his wife because of low self-esteem, extreme jealousy, difficulty in regulating his anger and other strong emotions, or when he feels inferior to his wife in education and socio-economic background, he employs violence as a tool. Some men with traditional beliefs may think they have the right to control women, and that women are not equal to men (Erinosho, 2004). This domination takes the form of emotional, physical or sexual abuse.
- interaction of situational and individual factors. This means that abusers learn violent behaviours from their family, people in their community and other cultural influences as they grow up. They may have seen violence often or they may have been victims themselves. Such abusers may learn to believe that violence is a reasonable way of controlling a woman (Einarsdothir, 2002). Thus, men who learn that women are not to be valued or respected and who see sexual abuse and gender violence directed against women are more likely to abuse when (Zamani, 2003). Women who also witness violence against women in their families of origin are more likely to be victimized by their own husbands (Tenuche, 2004). Ushe Mike Ushe 113
- Poor communication between couples Sexual abuse and gender violence arise from poor communication between married couples. According to Zamani, the inability to share thoughts and feelings or solicit each other’s understanding on matters of personal idiosyncrasies gives rise to conflict, marital disharmony, undue suspicion, or promotion of malice between them (Adsina, 1983). At the slightest provocation, sexual abuse and gender violence erupt and deal a severe blow to the hitherto blissful marital relationship.
- Immaturity on the part of a man or both couples Immaturity in couples also instigates gender violence and sexual abuse between them due to a lack of appropriate problem-solving and decision-making skills. As immature personalities, they misinterpret each other’s actions or pronouncements. They may resort to heated arguments rather than meaningful dialogue to resolve their differences. Most often than not, these degenerate into gender violence and sexual denials, among others. This can threaten marital harmony and affect the relationship between men and women in society (Danfulani & Lawrence, 2004). Thus, the effects of violence against women are broadly grouped into three categories: physical, psychological, and spiritual impacts. Physical Impact Physical impact has to do with injuries which can lead to permanent disabilities in women or even lead to the death of a woman. Physical violence against a woman can sometimes result in miscarriage, forced abortion, and unwanted pregnancies. Sexual abuse against women increases women’s vulnerability to STDs and HIV/AIDS (Ikejimi, 1971). Victims of violence frequently commit suicide, often out of desperation. Many women die following a beating by their own husbands, and in most cases, the husband is free afterwards. The husbands who are taken to court are not given an adequate sentence for having killed a person. In the case of sexual violation, it may precondition women to turn to prostitution, become violent, have too many children, abuse alcohol or drugs, leave the home, or, in the case of widows, lose all their property (Ilori, 2002). psychological impact. The psychological intense fear that the violence will happen again is generated in the woman. Low self-esteem, guilt, shame and depression also result; like wish feelings of being unjustly treated and helplessness. There may be accompanied by feelings of hatred and the desire for revenge. Spiritual Impact Women experience a hunger for human and spiritual understanding and care, a Christ-like acceptance and support. They feel not appreciated in society and not recognized in the church but rather exploited (Ugwu, 2002). In this case of girl-children, on the whole, it may lead to disfigurement, lost opportunities, and interference with school work. They may lose confidence in themselves and in death and adults. As young, women may also avoid marriage. When the woman is a mother and the violence takes place in front of her children, the stage is set for a cycle of violence that may be continued from generation. The children witnessing violence against their mothers may grow up thinking that violence against women is normal, thereby perpetuating another generation of violence in Nigerian society (Agbasiere, 2000).
There are many religious approaches to preventing gender violence and sexual abuse in Nigeria. These approaches include:
- Liberation Theology: Liberation theology has the force to eradicate gender violence and sexual abuse in Nigerian society. Ugwu (2002) asserts that liberation theologians, especially women liberation theologians and feminist theologians, in recent times have condemned the violence and sexual abuse against women in a global society. Malatest (2002) found that gender equality is a vital force in preventing gender violence and sexual abuse in Nigerian society. It is social machinery without which the social protection against gender violence and sexual abuse in modern civilization would have been impossible. Liberation theology has the duty of edifying the people’s culture and belief systems to discourage gender violence and sexual abuse in society. All religions, whether revealed or not, are opposed to gender violence and sexual abuse. 114. International Journal of Gender and Women’s Studies, Vol. 3(1), June 2015 Our ignorance about liberation theology and feminist theology are potent factors responsible for gender violence and sexual abuse in Nigerian society. Since liberation theology promotes gender equality and peaceful coexistence among members of society, it will be unwise for anyone to ignore the influence of liberation theology as a vital force for eradicating gender violence and sexual abuse in Nigerian society (May & Aikman, 2003).
- Religious Teachings; All religions have clear stands on the treatment of women. Both Islam and Christianity teach that men and women are created equal by God. Equality of all sexes enhances self-understanding and rationality of male and female counterparts and so psychologically guaranteed a healthy relationship between them. The Holy Books (Qur’an and the Bible) should be taught in such a way that it will effectively promote cordial relationships and unity of purpose between men and women in Nigerian society. By so doing, gender violence and sexual abuse can be eradicated in society.
- Inculturation; The process of inculturation can also eradicate gender violence and sexual abuse in Nigerian society. This can be done by refining the Nigerian traditional worldview of women as subordinate and second-class citizens of society. The cultural view that women are property of men for the production of children and weaker sexes could be contextualized into the Christian view of men and women equality.
- Promotion of Women’s Rights: Human rights are the compendium of human existence. Hence, women should be given their due rights. Women have the dignity which should be respected by the government and society. The government should on its own part, promulgate into law declarations, conventions and resolutions on women’s rights where the laws of the land do not make offences against women. Religious agencies and non-governmental organizations such as National Orientation Agency, Win and Women’s Right Advancement and Protection Alternative’s (WRAPA) should as their primary missions improve the social welfare-and legal rights of Nigerian women, by removing various forms of deprivations, discrimination and degradation that make it difficult for women to contribute rightfully to national development. There is a need for scholars, religionists, and traditional and religious leaders to take phenomenological and non-violence approaches to the eradication of gender violence and sexual abuse in Nigeria. These religious approaches should be based on traditional moral values, communication and dialogue, love, mutual respect and collegiality spirit to eradicate sexual abuse and gender violence. Any religious leaders or traditions that seek inequality, and promote sexual abuse and gender violence are unforgivable and should be discarded in all ramifications as crimes against women. Those who are engaged in the education of the youth and in the moulding of public opinions should promote gender equality. This is the only path possible where justice, solidarity, universal brotherhood and sisterhood could be achieved. All religions affirmed the fact that men and women were created equal. Christianity for example maintains that men and women were created in the image of God to multiply and fill the earth. The book of Genesis 1:27 states thus: “God created man in his image. In the image of God, he created him. Male and female, he created them. This identical human nature which appears in the two different forms of male and female indicates that women possess equal human nature perfectly to men before the creator. As sovereign beings, women are not subordinate to men more than they are subordinate to them; they are free and independent as the men. Pope John Paul II (1981) asserts that both men and women are human beings to an equal degree. Women have full and equal human rights and roles both politically, economically, culturally and ecclesial as benefit the human persons. All women and men are individuals worthy of respect and dignity even in terms of sexual rights. Jesus unfailingly respected the human dignity of women and went off his way to help the most vulnerable women. Conclusion From the foregoing discussion, it is clearly seen that gender violence and sexual abuse are social vices that are endemic in the world today. Gender violence and sexual abuse whether directly or indirectly, are crimes against human dignity and thus, dehumanize the status of women. Although it is argued that women are not the only targets of gender violence and sexual abuse in Nigerian society. The number of cases of gender violence and sexual abuse of women seems to be more than that of men. Just as many ladies are humiliated by their husbands, more men die every year in cases of domestic violence. Some of the women poison their husband’s food, beat them up or cut off their husband’s genital while they were fast asleep. This shows that violence and sexual abuse are not strictly gender issues. Both men and women fall victims to gender violence and sexual abuse in modern society and the case of Nigeria is not an exception. Ushe Mike Ushe 115 In view of the above discussion, the paper makes the following recommendations:
- The government should establish psychological and professional units at the relevant centres to educate people on the consequences of gender violence and sexual abuse in Nigerian society.
- The government should enact laws that would seriously check the menace of gender violence and sexual abuse in Nigeria and other parts of the world where it is not visible.
- Leaders of different religious institutions should uphold gender equality and de-emphasize gender violence and sexual abuse in society.
- The various religions in Nigeria (Islam, Christianity and African Traditional Religion) should advocate for women’s proper recognition by society and in religious organizations in such a manner that equal opportunities are given to both men and women for the contribution and transformation of the society.
- In order to promote gender equality in a global society, there is a need for dialogue and a nonviolent approach.
David Adams, author of “Why Do They Kill?”
Call on society and faith-based organizations to recognize that “each year in the World, around 15,000 persons are either wounded or killed by their intimate relationships.” In Africa alone, around 47,000 female partner murders are murder-suicides according to 2020 Africa tops list UN (premiumtimesng.com). Domestic violence perpetrators’ behaviour is most likely not out of the ordinary. Neither is the violence likely to have been a one-time occurrence that resulted in the death of a spouse.
When a victim of domestic abuse dies, society, family, and the church must ask the following questions: What were the warning indications that the victim was in jeopardy? Every year, at least one-sixth of all Nigerian couples suffer at least one violent episode. Wife abuse is more common than most people assume, but as one pastor noticed, shame inside the church keeps it buried. Data and clinical experience suggest that the incidence of abuse is all too common within the church. Almost all pastors and counsellors, at one time or another, will deal with someone who parallels the experience of David as recorded in Psalm 55:5.
My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me. I would fly away and stay in the desert, far from the tempest and the storm. My companion attacks his friends; he violates his covenant. His speech is as smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart. His words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords. (Psalm 55: 4-8; 12-14; 20-21/NIV).
Fear is the primary feeling that drives the connection in the midst of a broken relationship. A wounded spouse’s heart longs for and rejoices in the prospect that the abusive spouse will be transformed. One may easily sympathize with the psalmist’s dread in Psalm 55. Trust and camaraderie are breached in the middle of a shattered relationship.
Are The Pastor’s Misconduct—A Barrier to Domestic Support
Sexual misbehaviour in churches has received considerable public attention during the last two decades. Prior to the ordination or hiring of the pastors, criminal, financial, and psychological background checks are painstakingly undertaken to ensure that churches provide safer settings for their people. As a response, pastors, church leadership, and elders, particularly those who offer care and programming for children and teenagers, have increased their safety monitoring and preventative tactics. In one denomination studied for sexual misconduct prevention, all pastors and full-time church employees are required to take a four-hour course that covers the issues of sexual misconduct in the church as well as methods for ensuring the safety and protection of all members, from the oldest to the youngest. The instruction is based on the biblical verse, (Lk 17:2/NIV). “It would be better for them to be tossed into the sea with a millstone wrapped around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.”
Beyond the church’s doors, there is rising awareness and duty on the part of the Church for the safety of children. The Church’s concern for safety must extend into the house, just as families consider their “church home” to be an extension of their family life. Today’s issue for clergy and church leaders is: What measures should a church leader take if he or she is aware that a family connected to the place of worship is in danger at home?
When presented with evidence of sexual misbehaviour or violence, pastors should report the crimes and abuse to local authorities, according to a question. Who does the pastor have a responsibility to protect against physical and sexual abuse? Some states compel clergy to report cases of domestic violence, while others do not. 30 per cent of the domestic violence victims were affiliated with a church, according to the report. 18 per cent of perpetrators of fatal violence also had a connection to a place of worship prior to the crime. These statistics are undeniably concerning and represent a trend that is consistent for victims and perpetrators over the past five years.
In a multi-denominational Bible study, the author facilitated a discussion on the prevalence of domestic violence in the home. Those participating in the Bible study were Caucasian, Christian men between the ages of forty and sixty years. All the men were active in their particular church and denomination. The basic institutions of any community—family, state, and church are key groups in the Prevention of Violence and Abuse. The Church, then, must provide support and safety for victims of family violence.
Many pastors and church leaders avoid discussing domestic abuse because they believe it is not an issue in their congregation. Thirty per cent of the women who died as a result of the violence in Nigeria were related to a church. According to the report, 18% of people who killed their domestic partner were also members of a church. The Church must first recognize that domestic abuse is not apart from the Church, but rather exists inside it.
There is a rising realization that violence and abusive behaviour were never intended in God’s creation. Pastors and church leaders must be aware of domestic hardship in the lives of a church-affiliated families. Where does the issue of domestic violence stem from? How can a family reconcile the fact that the God of creation would allow a husband or wife to physically abuse his or her spouse?
When our first parents sinned, as described in Genesis 3, the consequences for all of creation were enormous. The man and wife were separated from God as a result of their transgression. They heard God in the garden after the transgression and “hid from the presence of the LORD God” (3:8). Sin warped the entire imago Dei (image of God), and as a result, mankind is now corrupt in all areas of its being. Suffering, in all of its expressions, is the result of sin.
“Your desire will be for your husband, and he will reign over you,” says Genesis 3:16. If the world has fallen and is divided from God in and through sin, it should come as no surprise that the brokenness of original sin has not had a permanent influence on families throughout history. After Eve eats from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the Lord says to her in the first book of the Bible, “I will considerably multiply your sufferings in childbirth; with anguish, you will give birth to children.”
The Bible establishes man and woman as the apex of God’s creation from the start. In the image of God, neither man nor woman is more than the other. Neither sex is praised nor devalued (Gn 3:16/NIV). Awareness of the worth of man and woman as God’s creation equips the Bible reader with the understanding that value and respect for humans are extremely important to the Lord. So God made man in his own image, in God’s likeness; male and female he formed them. God saw all he had created, and it was very good (Gn 1:27, 31/NIV).
The reader may discern the Lord’s guidance in permitting the Israelites to have a human monarch in the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel. The Lord was always supposed to be king over his people. The Israelites desired human administration, as was the practice of the neighbouring countries. They want the authority of a physical monarch in and around them, rather than imitating the Lord and his purpose.
The New Testament mentions governing entities and encourages Christians to submit to the authority of the ruling government. The call and power of governmental institutions are specifically addressed in the Apostle Paul’s epistle to the Romans. Anyone who acts against the authority is revolting against what God has established, and those who do so will bring punishment upon themselves. Be terrified if you do something wrong, for rulers do not wield the sword for no reason. They are God’s agents, agents of wrath sent to punish the offender.
The church is the last piece in the building and creation of God’s people. Christ intended for the development of the Church to occur and act as a mechanism for the spiritual growth of those called to follow Christ. Prior to his ascension, Jesus asked his disciples to work together to carry out the Great Commission (Mt 28:18-20). The framework of family, state, and church, which are the three primary institutions alluded to in the Bible, are crucial ties when a family is touched by domestic abuse. Domestic abuse may afflict future generations if it is not recognized and dealt with.
Faith Institution Leaders And Awareness Of Domestic Violence
The goal of this document is to raise awareness of each leader’s duties and role in the care and support of victims of domestic abuse. To the victim’s disadvantage, the important pastoral care factor is overlooked because a church leader seeks the quickest solution to the problem. When a family is manifestly in need of help, guidance, and action from its church, the biblical headship of the church should not be ignored.
Violence by the spouse, while not tolerated, is not grounds for the state, much alone the church, to act, according to several Christian faiths. The following is how the Quran describes the connection between husband and wife: Because Allah has given one greater (strength) than the other, males are the defenders and maintainers of women. If you are concerned about a schism between them, appoint (two) arbiters, one from his family and the other from hers; if they desire peace, Allah will bring them together.
In a society where clergy sexual misconduct has been so damaging to Christian culture, many Americans believe that faith-based organizations are not a part of the solution to domestic abuse. In the Islamic religion, marriage is open to bigamy and sexual contact with young females. Scholars try their utmost to defend this heinous conduct. According to some experts, Aisha was oblivious of the ramifications of marriage until she reached adolescence. She was the only virgin lady Muhammad married.
Accusations and suspicion of the clergy have skyrocketed in the previous two decades. Is faith in the Church a feasible option for families in the middle of a domestic crisis? Debi Bartlotti testifies on the plight of Muslim women at home in Muslin Women in Crisis. She speaks about a woman who has “big black and blue markings all over her back and buttocks.” This is only one example of modern-day domestic violence related to religion, of abuse excused by a rigid devotion to religious rituals. What should a Muslim lady say to a woman who reads this Quran passage? Allah is Almighty, Exalted, and Mighty (Sura 4:34).
As an ordained minister, the author has spoken with women from conservative or fundamentalist congregations who have left their husbands because of persistent adultery. This author observes that in at least one case, the woman remained in the relationship because of fear of abandonment and violent reprisal on the side of the husband. The Quran may provide justification for the husband to exact bodily punishment on his wife. For centuries, shalom Bayit (household harmony) has been the hallmark of Jewish homes. Rabbi Julie R. Spitzer notes the value of the marriage above and beyond the costs of violence in the home. This is the advice given to one woman who was brave enough to seek help from her rabbi a few years ago. James Leehan advises clergy who will or will not express Christ’s love in his book. He asks, “Is the Church open (that is, are the Church’s doors open wide) and inviting to victims who want to remain silent but require the help of the local church?” Few clergy or others in our society’s caring professions are aware of how to address this issue.
The Fatality Review investigated the circumstances and outcomes of domestic violence fatalities and near-fatalities in Georgia. According to the survey, the role of clergy as a resource for combatting domestic abuse is vital, despite being misunderstood. Making it known to one’s congregation that one is aware of such matters is one of the cornerstones of creating a pastoral ministry with those who have been abused. When clergy are actively involved (or, at the very least, available) and aid the family, they can have the greatest influence on reducing domestic violence. The Fatality Review investigated the circumstances and outcomes of domestic violence fatalities and near fatalities in Georgia between 2004 and 2009 in order to save lives and hold perpetrators accountable. According to Wendy Lipshutz, a domestic violence counsellor with Shalom Bayit of Jewish Community Services, women who are mistreated should not have to choose between their safety and the support of their congregation.
When a case of domestic abuse is detected at a faith-based institution, whom should clergy from the local church, synagogue, or mosque contact? The Fatality Review takes a strong stance on the issue, stressing that the church plays an important role in the fight against family violence. The aim is to collaborate with the local Church by raising awareness and assisting clergy in being part of the solution to eliminate violence. Domestic violence fatalities can be avoided if pastors and church leaders take measures to realize that domestic violence is a genuine hazard in families. Death can be averted if persons experiencing familial violence are assisted by the church, according to the author. It’s as though communities believe that ignoring the problem of violence would make it go away.
Definitions of terms:
Intimate partner violence: An attack on an individual by a current or former intimate partner (e.g., spouse, dating partner, boyfriend/girlfriend, or ongoing sexual partner), which may include physical violence, sexual violence, stalking, psychological aggression, and coercive tactics.
Domestic violence: It is quite easy to confuse domestic violence with IPV. Domestic violence refers to family violence, and the family may comprise more than just intimate partners, including children, brothers, sisters, and other relations. Domestic violence may sometimes be between other members of the family without including the intimate partners in the family. IPV, however, exclusively involves only intimate partners and does not include other family members of a household.
Intimate partner: An individual with whom a person has a close personal relationship, which may involve emotional connectedness, regular contact, ongoing or previous physical contact, and a sexual relationship. An intimate partner may be a current or former spouse, (married spouses, common-law spouses, civil union spouses, domestic partners), boyfriends/girlfriends, dating partners, and current or former sexual partners (Rennison & Welchans, 2000). Intimate partners do not necessarily cohabit and may be different or of the same sex.
Physical violence: The deliberate use of physical violence with the aim of causing death, harm, injury, or disability to an individual. This type of violence may include shoving, scratching, throwing, hair-pulling, burning, grabbing, shaking, punching, slapping, use of dangerous weapons, and physical restraint of an individual against his or her will (Breiding et al., 2015).
Psychological aggression: A pattern of intentional use of verbal and nonverbal communication to cause harm to another person psychologically or emotionally and to exert control over that person (Breiding et al., 2015). This form of IPV occurs when a perpetrator consistently does or says things to demean, shame, insult, embarrass or mentally hurt another individual (Berry, 2005). IPV often begins with psychological aggression or co-occurs with other forms of IPV.
Sexual violence: This can be defined as the performance of or attempt to perform a sexual act without the consent of the victim or when the victim is unable to refuse or consent. Included in this definition are forced or alcohol-induced submission to penetration, attempted penetration by a perpetrator, or efforts to encourage unwanted penetration by a third party. It also includes deliberate touching and non-contact with sexual connotations and coercing a victim to engage in sexual activities with someone else. At the heart of sexual violence is the absence of freely given consent or circumstances in which the victim is unable (e.g. due to the age of the victim, unconsciousness or being asleep, physical or mental incapacitation, intoxication or involuntary use of drugs or alcohol and lack of awareness) to consent or refuses. Inability to refuse can be a reaction to a threat of violence, the possibility of or use of bodily weapons, intimidation, verbal pressure, or misuse of authority.
Intimate partner rape: Forced, nonconsensual sexual acts involving vaginal, anal, or oral penetration by a current or former spouse, (married spouses, common-law spouses, civil union spouses, domestic partners), boyfriends/girlfriends, dating partners, current or former sexual partners. In some countries, intimate partner rape between married couples is not considered a criminal offence, as marriage is regarded as implied permanent sexual consent between married couples. In India, the Supreme Court in February 2015 ruled that marital rape is not a criminal offence because it is an integral part of the sanctity of marriage. But in the United States and many developed countries, marital rape is illegal and criminalized (Yllö, 2016).
While there is no generally agreed definition of stalking, the word is often used to describe obsession that may involve harassment and unwanted pursuit of an individual through unwelcome and repeated behaviour such as monitoring or physical pursuit, online monitoring, continuous contact by phone, or turning up uninvited at a person’s home or place of work (Reilly & Moore, 2017).
Intimate partner homicide: This is the killing of an individual by an intimate partner, often as a result of ongoing partner violence. Most victims of intimate partner homicide are females; they are four times more likely to be a victim than males. This can happen in heterosexual relationships as well as same-sex relationships. Guns are the most commonly used weapons in intimate partner homicide and the use of knives is also known to be common (Hume, 2014).
STORIES OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND ABUSES, AND A SYSTEMATIC APPROACH BY THE CHURCH AND SOCIETY TO END DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.
The Church: A Resource for Support Against Violence
Tamar, King David’s daughter, was the victim of domestic abuse in her father’s home. The Church must accept responsibility for the victims of such atrocities. Tamar’s experience is a sobering one that serves as a lesson for the Church. Barrs, Jerram: Tamar’s experience exemplifies the realities of a fractured world. In a male-dominated culture, she claims Amnon and Absolom were motivated by pleasure and power rather than pity, compassion, and the desire to provide for their half-sister. According to Barrs (2 Sam 13:20), Tamar made every attempt to live ethically on her own, even throughout the domestic abuse that destroyed her reputation and devastated her life, according to Barrs (2 Sam 13:20).
The church is referred to in the New Testament as an ekklesia, which is an assembly, congregation, or community. This chapter provides a methodical methodology for how a church might more effectively handle the presence of domestic abuse in its members’ homes. First, one must decide what the “Church” is and why church members would step in to help a beleaguered family. When the church gathers as a family, members minister to one another via teaching, koinonia (fellowship), sharing, prayer (Acts 2:42), mutual service, and encouragement (Heb 10:23-25).
In a society where blue-collar families pack a U-Haul truck and relocate to another state in the hopes of finding work, there is a great need for the Church to be present in family transition and at times of domestic crisis. A church must be aware that violence and abusive behaviour are not uncommon among churchgoers. Because a church is a body, it must function as a unit and respect all members of the body, even those with a quiet or muted voice. Today’s ekklesia is important to the assistance of individuals who have been injured or victimized.
Biblical love is a volitional commitment to the best interests of people that are empowered by God. This love develops an environment of acceptance, trust, and a readiness to reveal our true needs. Boa refers to ekklesia as the liveliness and active appeal to love.
Family violence in church households is a serious issue. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a responsibility to play in the care of families that have been internally harmed as a result of domestic abuse. According to the church’s General Assembly, those who worship the living God must perceive the Church as a sanctuary of safety and refuge in the midst of domestic violence and abuse.
Matrimony And The Christian Prayer Of The Marriage Covenant
In the name of God, I N., take you, N., to be my wife/husband, to have and to keep from this day forward, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, to love and cherish, until death separates us. This is my solemn promise. Everyone who witnesses the service of marriage is called to honour the pledges made by the two married in holy matrimony. The marital covenant established in a church involves vows made before God by a man and a woman. Historically, the church took the procedure of “banns of marriage” quite seriously. ‘Banns’ is a Middle English word that means ‘proclamation.’ The names of the soon-to-wed couple were published in the parish registry. The banns were used to ascertain whether the man and woman who were to marry were legally free to do so.
Douma: Marriage banns created a foundation for marriage as a holy estate that brings man and woman together in a sacred union. Douma: The Church’s understanding of marriage as a sacred union between husband and wife, something “not to be entered into unwisely or lightly, but reverently, deliberately, and in accordance with the purposes for which it was instituted by God.” The couple is called to live completely into the vows they make on their wedding day, and to disregard the covenant made before God.
The Church is called to help a man and his wife in their marriage. His mistreatment of her laid the groundwork for an impenetrable barrier between them. The couple’s marriage dissolved without the assistance of a church or a religious group. As ordained clergy, this author advised a man whose wife had left him after nearly twenty years of marriage.
Divorce And The Dissolution Of The Marriage Covenant
Douma: The church’s responsibility is to assist families that are going through a divorce or have lost a spouse. Douma: According to scripture, the best situation is for the married pair to keep the covenantal pledges made at the time of marriage. Protestant moralists argue that divorce based on sexual immorality is consistent with what the Old and New Testaments teach about marriage. Douma says that the reverse of oneness leads to marriage dissolution at the point where it is most personal.
According to Exodus, a slave who is owned and considered property of the master has little rights. “When a man hits and destroys the eye of his slave, male or female, he shall let the slave go free because of the eye” (22:26-27/ESV). Because this was negligence, divorce for neglect encompassed divorce for abuse. There is no distinction between the love and honour needed of a man and a woman. It is true that the husband is given distinct functions in scripture, while the woman is given complementary ones. However, the duties must always be an outward manifestation of Christ’s love for the body of Christ. They both had to offer emotional support for marital love while abstaining from sex for brief periods of time.
The Response To Domestic Violence: A Passive Response Or A Response That Serves To End The Hurt
Avoiding the Millstone is a method designed to prevent sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. According to the author of this study, perpetrators of domestic abuse cannot hide behind the safety of the confessional. The victim of the abuse (who is usually a church member) is further harmed since the abuser is free to prey on the helpless victim. Avoiding the Millstone is a church-led effort that trains clergy, children, youth, and church elders in the critical care of abuse victims. When church officials suspect sexual misbehaviour, abuse, or violence, the program creates a framework for the Church’s caring for and ministering to adolescents and families. Pastors express amazement at the absence of contradiction between a priest’s responsibility to keep a penitent’s confession private and the need to report suspected incidents of abuse to the religious authorities.
To shelter the perpetrator because of the confessional, especially if the abuser is an ordained priest, is to abandon vulnerable and innocent victims without the Church’s protection and assistance. Making the sacred confessional a safe haven for the perpetrator of abuse condones, or at the very least suggests acceptance of, the suffering done to the victims of the assault. Concerns have been expressed that people guilty of abuse, neglect, and violence may seek the confessional as a method of clearing their conscience while avoiding the possibility of being reported to authorities. Pastors must recognize that the church is not a safe haven from responsibilities. Rather, the priest is obligated to enable the offender to confess, repent, and seek reparation from those who have been injured by his/her misconduct. The confessional should not be used as a means of communication.
Confession is Not a Shield from Responsibility—It is a Doorway to Restoration; A Potential First Step to Reconciliation and Absolution.
Regardless of denomination, there may be uncertainty in the Church concerning acceptable limits in confessional ministry. Our Lord Jesus Christ, who has given his Church the authority to absolve all sinners, forgives you all your transgressions out of his great love, and I absolve you from all your sins by his authority given to me. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen. Amen.
In the Anglican church, for example, the rubric in The Book of Common Prayer instructs the pastor in administering confession in the role of the church when the head of the household is a perpetrator of domestic violence or sexual abuse, in accordance with the bible. According to The Book of Common Prayer, “the content of a confession is not typically a topic of later debate.” What kind of leeway does the clergy have?
Restoration with Family is Obtained through Obedience and Repentance, Not Confession Alone—Saying “I’m Sorry” is Not Enough
Confession is a location where a person might go to confess his or her sins against God and against man. If a penitent commits a crime, the priest must urge the sinner to take the necessary procedures to ensure that he or she is held accountable. Bishop Beach stated that the perpetrator’s confession cannot undo or repair the harm done to a family member. Pastors cannot provide absolution, or words of forgiveness, to people who refuse to confess and be held accountable for their sins. Also, we should not forget that the Bible charges us to confess our sins to one another.
For repair with God and the victim to begin, a regretful and contrite act of obedience is necessary. According to Bishop Beach, the offender of a criminal violation must accept responsibility for their actions in society. He adds that failure to perform the appropriate penance renders absolution unattainable.
Mandated Reporters of Domestic Violence—Pastors as Advocates for Domestic Violence Victims.
Bishop Beach: Is a congregation’s pastor compelled to disclose a crime admitted in a penitential setting? Both in the US and in Nigeria, the response is “No.” A violent abuser may admit to violently abusing one or more family members, yet the priest is not compelled by law to report the offence to civil authorities.
According to the Georgia Department of Human Services Family and Children Services, the following are the only people who are required to report abuse (mandated reporters) when there is a reasonable suspicion that a child, wife, husband, or elderly person has been abused:
- Interns and residents in medicine, as well as licensed physicians
- Hospitals or medical personnel
- Licensed psychologists and people participating in internships to obtain licensing
- Registered professional nurses or licensed practical nurses.
- • School teachers (including daycare providers) • Professional counsellors, social workers, or marriage and family therapists
- School administrators
- School guidance counsellors, visiting teachers, school social workers, or school psychologists
- Child welfare agency personnel
- Child service organization personnel.
- Personnel from law enforcement
The law Requires That mandatory reporters tell police when there is a suspicion of domestic abuse. Mandatory reporters must report abuse if they attend to a kid or are a member of the staff of a hospital, school, social agency, or similar institution. The victim must then report the abuse. The Anglican Mission, as well as many Pentecostal churches across the world, urge pastors to intervene quickly when there is “reasonable grounds to think” or better, to prove that sexual misbehaviour, domestic abuse, or violence is affecting a church member or family. Pastors are required by the Christian faith and cannon laws and even the oath of ordination to quickly report abuse and/or misbehaviour to authorities.
A Primary Responsibility Of the Church Is Victim Support
When the Church, after hearing a private confession, does not oblige the offender to go to the authorities and confess to the victim’s injury, great hurt is done. One goal of this thesis is to teach clergy and church elders how to be proactive when domestic violence and abuse are discovered in their congregation. If clergy, church employees, elders, or ministry professionals are accused of sexual misconduct or abuse, the church must respond to protect the victim and honour the victim’s family.
“I Never Told Anyone,” tells the story of a girl named Beverly Sky. Beverly was born in the Austrian city of Salzburg in 1947 to a Jewish mother and a Roman Catholic father. Here’s a story about Beverly’s abuse at the hands of a Catholic priest. Beverly felt responsible for what had occurred as if it had been her fault. She had lost trust in the clergy’s saintliness.
The impact of abuse in the church environment, notably the clergy’s participation in sexual misbehaviour and abuse, has received a great deal of attention during the last two decades. Instead of resolving the problem entirely, the Church relocated it, compounding the problem and leading it to spread across the Church. Many victims of church leaders’ abuse have come out all across the world to finally reveal their horrible truths. The Roman Catholic Church is still suffering as a result of its inability to reprimand the guilty priests and require that they get professional care.
Sexual abuse and immorality by Pastors will undoubtedly drive the victim away from the Church. It may also cause an exodus of those who are wounded by the sins of the clergy. Failure to conduct oneself in a manner befitting of the office of pastor has an impact on a church’s spiritual health and viability. Jesus said: The servant who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows.
To foster confidence and trust in the church community, the church must implement safety measures.
The church also recommends best practices that churches might use to reduce the chance of sexual misconduct occurring. The program not only raises awareness about the problem of sexual abuse but also provides best practices that a church might apply to reduce the possibility of sexual misbehaviour occurring.
An individual who had previously been convicted of a felony had attended the church from its inception. “How should he be trained?” Questions such as, “Should he be permitted to engage in ministry—especially children’s ministry?” were raised.
The primary goal is to create a space for everyone to experience the Lord and to safeguard the safety of members, regular attendees, and guests to the church inside the walls of the church grounds.
According to one molester described in The Christian Century story, “Church members are easy to dupe.” They have faith because they are Christians. They, I believe, want to believe in people. Arch Bishop PC Chukwuma affirmed that It is critical to recognize that the Church will continue to fight sin. However, it does not provide an excuse for the Church, according to him.
Are Sex Offenders Christians?
Many churches have offices with windows and open space to provide a more secure atmosphere for meetings with clergy and ministry leaders. To promote and foster knowledge and safety in the church, child protection programs, as well as sexual misconduct prevention training, are offered because sex offenders are also members of the church, and they have the authority to allow abuse, violence, and sexual misconduct.
Protection of the Congregation Extends Outside the Walls of the Church
When a family is harmed by the violence of a family member, the Church must take protective steps to keep the family safe. A “hands-off” policy by clergy, church workers, and lay pastors are ineffective at deterring abuse in our churches or protecting family members of abuse victims. The threatened husband and children, like the guarantee of a temporary protection order granted by a civil court, must know that their church is a safe haven.
In response to an allegation of domestic abuse at her home in 1994, Nicole Brown Simpson informed police: “You never do anything about him.” You converse with him before departing. According to De Becker, this apathy and complacency regarding domestic abuse are widespread in the United States. He believes the Church must dispel the myth that it is uninformed about domestic abuse. De Becker: We, as a community, must provide a safe haven for any battered woman who chooses to flee.
Susan Hylen: Society has not communicated to men that violence against women is wrong. The Parable of the Lost Sheep, as seen in Luke 15, is an admonition to Pastors who would rather avoid the subject. A fundamental mission for the Pastor is to imitate Christ and his love for protecting the poor and those who appear to be voiceless. Until recently, the mainstream church’s major approach was either to ignore the situation or to support the use of violence to preserve male authority at home.
According to Jesus, there will be a greater delight in paradise for one sinner who repents than for ninety-nine good people who do not need to repent. ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my lost sheep.’ And when he finds it, he rejoices by placing it on his shoulders. Who is lost in the metaphor of the lost sheep in the issue of domestic violence? This author believes that families that are subjected to ceaseless violence are Christ’s lost lambs. When Christians in the Church fail to take up and carry those who have been lost in a world of violence, or when we overlook the violence and deem the victims of violence as unimportant, we disrespect the importance that the Lord sets on “the least of these” among us. Any church leaders who are aware of a domestic abuse problem but do not do anything to help, according to this author, are not emulating Christ. The contrite life is addressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith. Every individual is obligated to privately confess his faults to God and seek forgiveness. Who will bring the lost sheep back into the fold and give them the chance to return?
A system of accountability between the perpetrator of domestic violence and church leadership is one successful way a church may utilize to facilitate the process of repentance and forgiveness. According to Boa, the Church must undoubtedly take efforts to help both the offender and the victims of the abuse. Pastors should refer victims to experts who can intervene and provide psychological or psychiatric aid to family members, he says. The goal of accountability is to keep us from committing the sins of arrogance, self-deception, and rationalization. Accountability can refer to overt sin (1 Sm 13:13), theological impurity (Gal 2:14), the impressions we make in front of others (Rom 14:15-16), and decision making (1 Kgs 22:6-8). How is it that the Church, its clergy, and its leadership have taken such a passive role in family care?
Religion, Women, And Gender-Based Violence In Nigeria.
Gender-based violence (GBV) is undeniably increasing in prevalence in Nigeria, particularly in the country’s north. According to research commissioned by the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development and the United Nations Population Fund, 28% of Nigerian women aged 25-29 had suffered some sort of physical assault since the age of 15. Furthermore, according to UNFPA research, roughly “3 in 10 Nigerian women have suffered a physical assault by the age of 15.” The Nigerian media has also been flooded with reports of violence. Religious leaders are regarded with terror, respect, and affection.
According to UNPFA research, six out of ten girls in the North East had encountered one or more kinds of GBV. In circumstances where they disclose such occurrences, women are urged to remain prayerful and optimistic about a change. Divorce is also frowned upon by some.
Statistical Trends Of Domestic Violence.
Abused women were found to be quite involved in their local church, with 26 per cent attending church on a weekly basis. In 1998, over 900,000 women were victims of violent attacks at the hands of an intimate partner, a rate five times that of males in Africa. People all throughout the world are worried about the history of torture and murder on the basis of race, ethnicity, or religion. Corrie Ten Boom, a Holocaust survivor, talks about her persecution and torture in Ravensbruck. Ten Boom’s sorrow contrasts strongly with the victim of domestic abuse’s isolation.
Christians fail to live up to the standard set by our higher authority when the Church refuses to respond biblically to global injustices. Bishop John Rucyahana’s words convict us of the apathy that appears to dull our emotions, as well as the indifference that permits us to turn away from sorrow.
Tracy and Bierma: The way the church responded to the Rwandan genocide is a direct result of sin and the influence the secular world can have on the Church. To condone the atrocities of genocide is no different than a priest knowing that domestic violence is harming a family of the church and stepping aside or allowing the sin and harm to continue, they say. Christ’s suffering was redemptive because it was unavoidable, they write. They state that: The point here for abused wives is not that they must accept their abuse with passive silence, but that they must follow Christ’s example of responding to abuse in a godly manner. Tracy and Bierma: Why is it that the clergy’s response to domestic violence in the families of their churches is weak? Do they ask why victims of domestic violence refrain from immediately turning to clergy for support when facing violence in their homes? The call for clergy to respond as advocates for those who are hurting is critical to the health and future of the Church, they say. More to the point, why is it that victims of domestic abuse refrain from immediately turning to the clergy for support when facing violence in their homes?
Christine A. Scheller: Forgiveness that does not take seriously the offence against an injured party is fraudulent and cheap. She says clergymen who violate church teaching (or the law) should be defrocked. Society and the scandals of sexual misconduct are some of the greatest inhibitors for victims of domestic violence and abuse turning to the Church for assistance, she says. Martin: It is possible that the Church perceives domestic violence in its members’ families as the exception rather than the rule. Martin: At least one-sixth of all American couples experience at least one violent incident each year. He says, “Guilt within the church keeps it repressed”. Martin: Wife abuse is more prevalent in Christian homes than most people believe. Grant Martin writes He points out that male violence toward women and children has been socially, legally, and religiously endorsed. The call of leadership in the home may also lead to the abuse of authority and power by those who are ignorant of truths revealed in the Bible, he says. That is key to understanding the priority given to care for one another and the respect between two who have become one flesh by virtue of wedding vows. For centuries, wife-beating has been accepted as a natural, although unfortunate, consequence of women’s status as her husband’s property Christine Martin: A Comparison of Marital Submission and the Husband’s Authority in the Islam Faith. Martin: Although Christ came to teach total equality, the Jewish tradition was blatantly biased as can be seen from a line in the prayer of a Jewish man spoken daily: “I thank God that He did not make me a Gentile, a slave, or a woman” (5:28- 30/ESV). The Quran does permit physical correction when a woman does not submit to her husband. The Christian approach to submission longs for unity and the drawing of man and woman together as was modelled in creation. Jesus Christ enunciated, “He who made them at the beginning made them male and female” (Mt 19:4).
Abdullah Yusuf Ali, trans., The Holy Quran (Hertfordshire, UK: Wordsworth Editions Limited, 2009). If a woman is treated as a possession, her perceived worth as a person and in the marriage contract is devalued. John Ankerberg and Emir Caner in their book, The Truth About Islam and Women, describe the uncontrolled limits of abuse, even at the origin of Islam. Muhammad entered a time of polygamy and sensuality. He married nearly a dozen women, far greater than the maximum allowed by the Quran. “The imagery portrayed in the verse is an unashamed picture of why, when, and how a Muslim husband is allowed to approach his wife.”
There has been a deliberate effort to demonstrate that domestic violence is present in the homes of those who attend church and other places of worship. It is essential that the Church and all faith-based institutions should seek to support families and help with the cessation of violence in the home, Martin writes. Martin: Church’s mandate is to protect the sacred covenant made before God on the wedding day. The Church fails in that directive when it overlooks the life of slavery and bondage those victims of family violence endure, he says. Martin: The Church’s failure to intervene on behalf of these victims may also lead the victims of abuse to believe the Lord wants for them this horrific and continual suffering at the hands of their abusers.
The question the Church must ask itself is: Are we, the Church, being or acting as faithful stewards of the Word when violence is permitted among a family in the local church? According to custom, a wife’s primary duty was to be subject to her husband. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Ephesians 5:22-24: “As the Church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” God’s plan for the family and the relationship between husband and wife today is being challenged.
As a result, the strength of the family is withering, primarily due to the diminished role of the husband and father. When there is domestic abuse, there should never be any question as to how the Church is to respond to such sinful behaviour—never. The Church is called to model the love of Christ. If the Church understands the role of the family and the relationship of husband and wife in direct correlation to Christ and his bride, then there should never be the problem of violence in the Christian marriage—ever.
Some Domestic Violence Stories;
According to a Lagos-based woman, “I left an abusive marriage the first time, but pastors talked me back. The same thing happened the second time. When I was about to lose my life I ran without listening to anyone anymore and my kids were happy. It was not easy leaving because my ex was a bit buoyant. When I was riding nice cars people thought I was enjoying not knowing I was looking for a way to run. I may not be driving big cars but I’m eternally grateful to God that I did not die.”
This is the story of Jumoke, one of many women, including pastors’ wives, who have tales of woes to share, some of whom are not alive to tell their stories.
Barbara Tommey, a Ghanaian, was killed in September after she was severally shot by Sylvester Ofori, her prophet husband outside her job at the Navy Federal Credit Union near the Mall in America.
A Nigerian doctor, Mrs Ifeyinwa Angbo, opened up in a video on social media last Sunday on her ordeal in the hands of her journalist husband, Pius Angbo.
She told of how her husband beat her black and blue over her advice that he should stop spending on women because they have young children to care for.
While the world was fuming, news filtered in that Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, had mediated to broker peace between the couple.
This left many activists and individuals furious as they called for caution on Ifeyinwa’s part so as not to be ‘twice’ beaten.
Coveting the pumice’s prayers, she, however, replied days later that people should mind their businesses and leave her alone to be with her man.
In her address to mothers, Mrs Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, wife of the Ondo State governor, stated, “Nigerian mothers, it is your responsibility to raise your sons to respect womanhood. Counsel them not to turn somebody’s daughter into a punching bag. Wife beating no matter the circumstance is unacceptable. It is a no for me and people with a sense of decency.”
Men have been recorded to suffer spousal violence though women are mostly known to be at the receiving end. There are men including clerics whose wives maltreat them on the ground that the men cannot chase them or retaliate the wicked acts as they will have sanctions from the church to face. The women in this category also believe no one would believe their husbands even if they choose to speak up.
At the same time, there are women who suffer silently and bear the violation from their spouses because of financial incapacitation, persuasion from spiritual leaders, and family members, cultural prejudice, the fear of what society may say, the fear of being tagged a failure, and so on.
The United Nations (UN) 2000 has made efforts to stop violence against women by creating public awareness of the ongoing suffering experienced by women. November 25th of every year is carved out as International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. As it is observed as a day for governments, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations to raise public awareness about violence against women, religious leaders in Nigeria have been asked to use their various platforms to condemn the recent spate of domestic violence, thereby promoting peaceful coexistence, particularly among couples.
In the 2019 Church Report released by Alder Consulting, Nigeria’s leading creative intelligence firm, Leke Alder, Principal of Alder Consulting, said the report highlights the social relevance of the Church and in particular, captures the reaction of the youth demographic to burning topics such as sexuality and mental health. Millennials according to the report would like the church to be more responsive to issues of domestic violence, drug abuse, unemployment, depression, rape and sexuality.
The survey for the Alder Church Report which was done both online and offline spanned the six-geopolitical zones in Nigeria with 4,634 respondents; 68% of whom were below 35 years old. The gender ratio for the survey was 58 % male to 42 % female, while 50% were single and 50% married. The report measures the perception of the Church in Nigeria, and its impact on society and national development. It provides feedback from church members and the general public, as well as information about socio-cultural shifts that affect the Church.
A notable human and women’s rights activist in Nigeria, Dr Joe Odumakin, told Sunday Independent that the rate of domestic violence leading to spousal killing was alarming, as some religious leaders do not help matters.
“Violence is on the rise and you will see that despite all the awareness carried out, it is skyrocketing. I want couples to know that marriage is to complement one another and not for competition. Secondly, nobody has the right to speak down on their partners once this is realised it will be of much benefit. A lot of women would say they can’t leave their children but in the process, they get killed. From our records about 13 women have been killed and 4 men have been killed. It is even underreported because there are some cases that do not get reported. I think the media, labour organisations and market women should join hands in carrying out massive awareness because prevention is better than cure.
“I think that our religious organisations must ensure that they use their platforms to preach peace. They must not force anyone to remain in a relationship because someone who is alive is better than who is dead. There are instances where people were forced to return to relationship because their religious organisation will either mock such people or not permit such.”
Should abused couples be prayed for, reconciled, persuaded to stay in the marriage, or allowed to divorce?
Odumakin, President of the Women Arise for Change Initiative and the Campaign for Democracy, pointed out that some cultural beliefs hamper peace resolution.
“I want to use this occasion to call on our religious leaders to know that no society will prefer to bury someone over permitting separation for a period of time. We see that cultural beliefs, family beliefs are not helping matters. So we must all ensure that if alternative dispute resolution does not work, let the couples stay apart; by the time they stay apart and later agree to genuinely settle, then we in the alternative dispute resolution organisations can advise them as well as the mother-in-law and father-in-law on the maintenance of peace. Again, violence is gender blind; whether you are a man or woman and we must do all we can to curb this threat that is ravaging our communities and the society at large.”
Timothy and Shola Oladipo, both Christian leaders and marriage counsellors who have been married for 30 years, based in Europe, have travelled through three continents to teach singles and married people on godly principles to prepare them for marriage and to keep them stable in marriage.
Recently, in an interview during their visit to Lagos, they spoke on issues relating to marriage and relationships. The initiators of Before and after I do (BAID) reacting to the rate of divorce, separated home and the creation of homeless children and how their ministry is influencing homes to address and even reduce the figure, said before God called them they were aware of the way the home front is breaking down and “we know that if the home front is fixed, the church would be fixed. So if everybody can fix their home, the church would be fixed. Rather than throwing condemnation and sermons at people from the altar all the time, why not use the word and help people by fixing the standard, godly standard to fix what has been broken down? So over the years, we have so many testimonies that we have received from people and as a matter of fact, we have found couldn’t of singles who have cut off their engagements by just sitting under the teachings of BAID because they have suddenly realised certain things, whether because they are not ready, the person they are engaged to be not ready. It doesn’t mean they didn’t get it right or that they didn’t get married. It was just a matter of going back to God to get themselves prepared before getting back to get married.”
For the Oladipos marriage is not a smoothie and it is not salad as there is a need to understand God’s expectation of marriage.
Timothy stated, “My fear is that divorce is not necessarily a cure for a bad marriage and so the statistics for divorce like we would always say is that 50 to 52 per cent of first marriages end in divorce, about 63 to 67 per cent of second marriages end in divorce and third marriages have 70 per cent plus and that tells us that what you didn’t fix in the first marriage will not be fixed by divorce in the second marriage and divorce in the third marriage. So divorce is not the issue, it is about understanding God’s motivation for marriage, and I think personally we have missed it.
“I think our culture in Nigeria has overlaid God’s real plan for marriage so we treat marriage as a life cycle; you go to kindergarten, then to secondary school, then to the university, then you get married. And if somebody has done something wrong, divorce is the next thing because we don’t understand marriage, people don’t have tenable answers to divorce. I don’t see divorce as an escape route because God is saying I hate divorce. I think we have mixed things up. There are other solutions and things God would want us to address.”
Proffering counsel on the biblical injunction that God hates divorce, which is making people endure and die in abusive marriages, he shared that it is abnormal to have anyone subjected to abuse.
“You don’t inflict pains on the one you love. If someone is going through abuse, we cannot say because God hates divorce and then tell them to remain in that kind of abusive relationship. God hates divorce but He also hates abuse. He will not sit back to watch someone He has created in His own image be subjected to abuse. So when we say God hates divorce, we are not saying it in the extreme aspect of it because there are other ways we need to look at divorce as well which a lot of people frown at. Even in our culture today, people think that our women are abused or being beaten because they have done something wrong and in some cases, some men are also being abused these days.
“We need to look at it properly because if you stay in an abusive relationship, one day, a lot of our women would say it is because of the children that we are staying here. They also need to know that it is because of the children that you should get out of the abusive relationship right now. Statistics say the majority of children who are products of abusive relationships would go out to abuse people as well, so don’t stay in an abusive relationship and die in it because peradventure the woman or the man ends up killing you, they are going to be sent to prison for voluntary manslaughter and may probably stay in prison for six years and they are going to come out but you are dead.
“So we need to apply a lot of wisdom. So if you still desire that relationship or that marriage, then pray for that person from afar and help them to get help because there will always be a fruit of repentance. When you see the fruit of repentance, you can go back to that relationship but no marriage is worth dying for here on earth,” he added.
Lady Marcella Aize Yosabo Cole, President, Confraternity of Christian Mothers (CCM), Nigeria, on her part asked victims to always speak up and ask for help instead of defending their spouses.
“Those involved in domestic violence should speak out. There is no need to protect those abusing you. Learn to speak out at the right time. It is not a good thing to be violated; it is what we are against,” she said.
Prophet Gbenga Ajadi, His Praise Deliverance Ministries, on what a man or a woman should do in domestic violence laced marriage noted, “I’m not a killer pastor when such things happen is better you divorce such man or woman.
Meanwhile, if you post on any social media page that you had a fight with your wife or husband the third party will give you the kind of advice that they can’t use when such happens to them. It’s better to go for counselling or meet a psychologist to get advice. Let us not forget that manner of approach matters a lot in marriage. Saying sorry cannot kill one. Couples should be able to apologise to one another and take necessary steps to make amends if with that the rate of divorce will reduce.”
Rev. (Mrs.) Deola Ojo, co-founder, of Grace Family International Church on maintaining a healthy marriage viewed that there are no perfect marriages anywhere but marriages where couples exercise understanding and surrender to the lordship of Jesus Christ.
“You see as long as there are no perfect human beings there are no perfect marriages because it is humans that make marriages. For instance, if I have imperfections, some are likely to show up in my marriage. The way God works is that the areas of my weakness you will find out are the areas of my husband’s strength. So before you know it my weaknesses are turned into my strength because I’m imbibing what my husband has as strength. However, it takes patience to discover this. It is when patience is not applied that you hear people say, ‘we are so unlike, we have irreconcilable differences.’ There is no difference that cannot be reconciled in the word of God if couples are genuinely born again,” Ojo said.
Bishop Priscilla Otuya, President of Mother of All Nations, maintained that there are spiritual forces warring against marriages that every Christian must guard against.
“Whether we like it or not, there are forces against marriage- the devil. I call him the uninvited guest which we have to fight against. Also if you catch your husband having sex with someone else, do not desert your husband because the person needs your love more at that time. But this is when some think about divorce, but our social media, our magazine; our storybooks have set a wrong standard, once my husband makes this mistake, the next thing is divorce because they said so. No, you need to understand why it happened. Is it repentant, does he deserve a second chance, so those are the things you need to consider. Let us understand ourselves; there is no perfect human being in this world.”
Supreme Archbishop Emmanuel Ojo Powers, General Overseer of Family Restoration Ministries, believes that not every union is orchestrated by God hence the need for divorce if need be to avoid loss of life.
“In the case of divorce, I am of the opinion and convinced that not every marriage is joined by the Lord. The marital condition may call for divorce rather than loss of life. Also, divorce is not one of the criteria for going to hell,” Powers stated.
NOTE: Nigeria IS A Tough place to convict a rapist.
In Nigeria, it is not uncommon for rape to go unreported.
Some victims and their families, fearing stigmatisation, police extortion and a lack of trust in the judicial process, choose not to report cases to the authorities.
There have also been instances where those brave enough to report are targeted with derogatory comments at the police station.
Cases that have shocked Nigeria in the past weeks
University student Uwavera Omozuwa is allegedly raped and dies in a church after her head is smashed with a fire extinguisher; a suspect has been arrested.
A 12-year-old girl is raped over two months in northwest Jigawa state; 11 arrests have been made.
Tina Ezekwe was killed by a policeman in southwest Lagos state; two policemen have been arrested.
Barakat Bello is allegedly gang-raped and murdered in southwest Oyo state; no arrest has been made.
A 17-year-old girl is gang-raped in southwest Ekiti state; two arrests have been made.
Some Sexual offences In Nigeria.
2,279 reported cases of rape and indecent assault.
1,164 reported cases of “unnatural offences” (ie anal sex)
0 convictions were reported by police.
1 state (out of 36) reported no cases of indecent assault.
Source: Nigeria Bureau of Statistics.
“They are either vilified for their dressing, being at the wrong place at the wrong time or accused of making up claims of rape,” said Ms Ebe, who is now a social worker and runs a charity helping street children, people with disabilities and survivors of sexual abuse.
She often talks about her experiences in order to help other rape survivors. She says victims often find brick walls at the hospitals, police stations and courts where they are supposed to get justice.
“The penalty for rape in Nigeria is up to 14 years in prison, but I have seen a judge sentence, someone, to just four years, with two years suspended, because he was young and had a life in front of him,” she said.
“What about the victim whose life he adversely affected?”
Police accused of raping women
In 2019 in the capital Abuja, some women who were arrested during a police raid accused officers of raping them.
They said the police accused them of being sex workers and while they were at the police station, they were repeatedly raped by officers.
The police denied the accusations and the matter is currently in court.
Tina, 16, was shot by a policeman in Lagos
“Such incidents don’t reassure victims that the police station is where they can get help,” their representative, Dorothy Njemanze, told the BBC.
No one knows exactly how many rapes take place in the West African state annually. The official Nigeria Bureau of Statistics said more than 2,200 cases of rape and indecent assault were reported in 2017.
But experts say the true number of rapes is likely to be much higher.
“We get at least six people coming in for cases of domestic violence per week,” Ms Njemanze said. “During the coronavirus lockdown, we started receiving four to seven cases per day and 70% of them were related to rape.”
New Laws Not Implemented
The results of a survey published by NOIPolls in July 2019 suggested that up to one in every three girls living in Nigeria could have experienced at least one form of sexual assault by the time they reach 25.
Recent laws have broadened the scope under which sexual offences can be penalised in Nigeria, making it easier to try suspects.
“Before now the part of the Nigerian constitution that deals with rape was in the criminal code and meant that cases had to be tried within two months or they would be statute-barred [ineligible to be heard in a court], but that is no longer the case,” Stephanie Ekpebulu, from a coalition of lawyers that does pro bono work with rape victims, told the BBC.
However, many states across Nigeria have not implemented the new laws.
“Most states in northern Nigeria practise the sharia system of justice that would run at variance with the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act [one of the new laws],” lawyer Okani Emmanuel said.
“In the north, it’s the religion, in the south it is down to the cultural impediments where they have some widowhood practices that run contrary to the law,” he said.
The shortcomings in Nigeria’s legal system, where any case is likely to take years to prosecute and a police force accused of not being thorough in its investigations, also discourage victims from approaching the courts for justice.
Ms Njemanze advises anyone who has been raped to try and preserve evidence, like clothing, that can be used in court.
“Most times hospitals want to see a police report before treating and that’s very unfair because it’s a time-bound crime,” she said. “The first thing is to preserve all the evidence that we can get and treat for sexually transmitted infections.”
Prosecutorial agencies like the police have also been accused of hampering the chances of victims getting a fair hearing in court.
“Most times the police take the victims to private hospitals where there are bills to be paid and expect traumatised victims to foot them. In extreme cases, the suspects are asked to foot the bills,” asked Mr Emmanuel.
“How can such a system guarantee justice?”
Justice for Uwa?
Following the outburst of national outrage, police announced they had made an arrest in the case of Uwa, whose body was found in a church.
They said a fire extinguisher used in her murder was examined by forensic experts and the fingerprints of the suspect were identified.
Nigeria’s police chief also announced special investigators would be deployed to gender desks at police stations across the country to respond to increasing challenges of sexual assaults and gender-based violence.
However, Uwa’s case has not been without its own controversy. Her family accused the police of making snide comments and demanding bribes before investigating the case.
“They asked my father if he was the first person [whose] daughter would be raped,” the victim’s sister told journalists.
This is the video of Uwa’s sister talking about the police and their reaction to her sister’s death Police have not responded to the allegations.
Some of the recent campaignings have also been against a culture of “victim-blaming” in Nigerian society.
Stop the Rape!!
We are tired of being afraid in our own skin…
The online anger has also been directed at official systems campaigners say focus too much on educating girls about sex but ignores the boys who become men.
“It’s time to teach the boys what consent is and that No is No,” Ms Ekpebulu told the BBC.
Domestic Violence Is Ever-Increasing In Nigeria.
According to Wikipedia.com, Domestic violence is prominent in Nigeria as in many parts of Africa and the world at large. There is a deep cultural belief in Nigeria that it is socially acceptable to hit a woman to discipline a spouse. Cases of Domestic violence are on the high and show no signs of reduction in Nigeria, regardless of age, tribe, religion or even social status. The CLEEN Foundation reports that 1 in every 3 respondents admits to being a victim of domestic violence. The survey also found a nationwide increase in domestic violence in the past 3 years from 21% in 2011 to 30% in 2013. A CLEEN Foundation’s 2012 National Crime and Safety Survey demonstrated that 31% of the national sample confessed to being victims of domestic violence.
Domestic violence takes many forms including physical, sexual, emotional, and mental. Traditionally, domestic violence is committed against females. Common forms of violence against women in Nigeria are rape, acid attacks, molestation, wife beating, and corporal punishment.
The Nigerian government has taken legal proceedings to prosecute men who abuse women in several states. There is currently a push in Nigeria for federal laws concerning domestic violence and for a stronger national response and support for domestic violence issues.
Incidents of domestic violence in Nigeria include battery, beatings, torture, acid baths, rape, and consequently, death. It is, however, estimated that approximately one in every three women suffers domestic violence and Intimate Partner Violence from the hands of those who claim to love and supposedly, protect them. The man is eating deep as most of the victims do not speak out about violations of their rights, a result of nonchalance, insensitivity, and negative response from their immediate family and society at large.
On the 27th of February, 2021, The Guardian, Nigeria, recorded in their Saturday that cases of Domestic Violence are on the high, especially the physical aspect of it. They reported that at least once a week, there’s a case of a man beating, maiming or killing his wife, and in some very rare cases, a woman dealing with her husband in like manner.
Violence can be physical, sexual, psychological or financial and can include neglect. The Ministry of Social Development’s Family and Community Services, on its website www.areyouok.org.nz, defines the various forms of family violence as follows.
Psychological violence to adults or children, which can have long-lasting effects, includes:
- Making you feel like everything you do is wrong.
- Constantly criticising you or your friends.
- Humiliating you in front of your friends.
- Using unsafe driving to frighten you.
- Damaging property/walls/possessions to scare you.
- Making you isolated and alone.
- Blaming everything on you.
- Threatening to take the children away or hurt them.
- Stalking, following, checking up on you.
- Harming pets to punish you.
- Making you feel scared of what might happen next.
Sexual abuse includes:
- Forcing you to have sex or do other sexual acts you don’t want to do.
- Touching you in a way you don’t want.
- Frequently accusing you of sleeping with other people.
- Forcing you to watch porn.
Sexual violence in Nigeria largely goes unreported because of the burden of proof necessary for conviction as well as the social stigma it brings. Nigerian police have not been seen to arrest for sexual assault resulting in less reporting of the act.
About 25% of women reported forced sex at the hands of either their current partner or a former partner.
Furthermore, the 2008 Demographic and Health Survey showed that over 30.5% of married women have experienced at least one or more forms of physical, emotional or sexual violence in their marriage.
The social context of violence in Nigeria is based largely on its patriarchal society. Violence against a wife is seen as a tool that a husband uses to chastise his wife and improve her. The common loss of women’s rights upon marriage in Sub-Saharan Africa and the implicit obedience and deference towards men is socially encouraged within their society.
Where a bride price is paid, it is common for the husband to believe that by paying the bride price, he now owns his wife. The act of marriage is seen to give the husband full ownership of the woman. She surrenders her right to her body to him as well as her agency.
Other factors linked with domestic violence are lower socioeconomic classes, substance abuse, couple age disparity, and unemployment.
Another cause of domestic violence is infertility. When looking at a study taken by infertile women visiting a fertility clinic, many women reported some form of domestic violence- whether physical, mental, or emotional. There were also trends showing that the Yoruba tribe women were more likely to experience violence in this case.
Physical abuse includes:
- Hitting and punching.
- Biting, pushing, choking or pulling your hair.
- Making you drink or take drugs when you don’t want to.
- Using or threatening to use weapons.
In Nigeria, women would usually face physical violence at the hands of their loved ones, family members, and society. The most common forms of this violence include rape, murder, slapping, and kicking. Some possible reasons given for these assaults include the drunk state of spouses, financial issues resulting in cases of possible frustration, and the rejection of sexual advances from the partner.
Relationship inequality is also a strong indicator of physical violence. High levels of wife beating occur when the woman is making more money than her husband or partner is. This has been attributed to the lack of control the male partner feels within the relationship.
Women also often link the perpetration of physical violence with husbands who are very controlling. Women who justify wife-beating are more likely to be victims of physical violence.
Another form of violence that has received a lot of recent attention in Nigeria is acid baths. Acid baths are actions of violence where the perpetrator throws acid onto his or her victim’s body, resulting in disfigurement and possible loss of eyesight. Acid baths are a large issue for women that needs to be addressed. In 1990, a former beauty queen rejected her boyfriend’s attempts to rekindle their relationship. In retaliation, he threw acid in her face with the words “let me see how any man will love you now”.
Lagos State Government, yesterday, said it recorded a total of 10,007 reported cases of domestic violence, including sexual abuse, perpetrated against adults and children between May 2019 and August 26, 2021.
The Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo, said this at a media briefing on the highlight of activities to commemorate the Domestic and Sexual Violence Awareness Month, September 2021, organised by Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team, DSVRT, in Alausa, Ikeja.
Financial abuse includes:
- Taking your money or property.
- Running up debts in your name.
- Misusing power of attorney.
- Pressuring you into paying money.
- Not providing food, clothing and warmth.
- Leaving dependants alone or with someone who is unsafe.
- Not providing comfort, attention and love.
- Not providing medical treatment.
What is child abuse?
The Office of the Children’s Commissioner defines child abuse as:
- Physical – all physical injuries to children where there is the knowledge that the injury was not accidental, or knowingly not prevented.
- Sexual – the use of a child for sexual and/or physical gratification of someone who takes advantage of their power and/or the child’s trust.
- Neglect – serious deprivation of the necessities of life such as food, shelter, supervision appropriate to their age, and essential physical and medical care.
- Emotional – adults’ negative attitudes and behaviours that harm a child’s emotional and physical development.
What is elder abuse?
Just as some of our young are vulnerable to abuse in the home, so are some of their grandparents. Age Concern says elder abuse occurs when a person aged 65 or more suffers harmful physical, psychological, sexual, material or social effects caused by the behaviour of another person with whom they have a relationship implying trust. Elder abuse comes under four categories:
- Physical – infliction of physical pain, injury or force.
- Psychological – behaviour that causes mental or emotional anguish or fear.
- Sexual – sexually abusive and exploitative actions entailing threats, force or the person’s inability to give consent.
- Financial – the illegal or improper exploitation and/or use of funds or other resources.
The perceptions of domestic violence vary based on region, religion, and class. For example, the Tivi views wife-beating as a “sign of love” that should be encouraged as evidenced by the statement, “If you are not yet beaten by your husband then you do not know the joy of marriage and that means you are not yet married”.
All the major ethnic groups in Nigeria- Yoruba, Igbo, and Hausa- have strong patriarchial societal structures that lead to the justification of domestic violence. However, the Hausa are more supportive of domestic violence and view it as an inherent right of a husband.
There are differences in the perceptions of domestic violence varying across reasons. There are higher numbers for instances like neglecting the children or going out without telling the husband and less for refusal of sex or a mere argument. Many of the reasons that are viewed as acceptable for domestic violence are largely subjective to a husband’s interpretation. For example, commonly acceptable beatings among men are lack of respect for the husband, stubbornness, imposition of will on the husband, and failure of wifely duties.
The 2008 NDHS did a study to view the acceptability of wife-beating in Nigeria. They put forward five scenarios and asked both men and women. With women, there were trends found in viewing wife-beating as more acceptable. It was viewed as more acceptable in rural areas, among married versus unmarried women, uneducated women, and poor women. The reason most viewed as justified for the beating was going out without telling the husband. The relationships were about the same for men.
Women experiencing domestic violence have varying responses and differences in who they report their abuse to. In a study done in Ilorin, Nigeria, a large number of women reported their abuse to family and friends while not many decided to go to the police to file a report. The rationale behind not going to the police is various such as the fear of victim-blaming, acceptance of violence as a proper reaction, and the lack of police action.
One major issue facing domestic violence issues in Nigeria is the tendency for low reported rates. A study looking at domestic violence in southwest Nigeria found that only 18.6% reported experiencing or acting violence between themselves and their spouse. However, the same study also shows that 60% of the respondents claimed to have witnessed violence between a separate couple. These statistics show that there may be a tendency for underreporting which can occur for various reasons.
One main reason for the high levels of under-reporting is that it is seen as taboo to involve the police in family matters. They view the separation of the two as important and the police force ascribes to this notion as well. Police hesitate to intervene even with lodged complaints unless the abuse goes over the customary amount usually seen in the region.
Experience Of Pregnant Women
Pregnant women experience high levels of domestic violence in Nigeria. They are subject to violence not only from their spouses but also from their in-laws. In a study, they found that the most common type of domestic violence was being physically assaulted and then, also being victims of forced sexual intercourse.
A study in the nation’s capital, Abuja, carried out over a course of 3 months in 2005 showed physical, sexual, and psychological abuse among pregnant women. One-third of the female respondents reported experiencing domestic violence. They found psychological abuse to be the highest type of abuse followed by physical and then sexual. Women who experienced psychological abuse also experienced physical abuse. In terms of the physical abuse, about 20% of the women required medical treatment due to the abuse and the most frequent medical complication reported was premature labour. A big issue across many African countries, not just Nigeria, is the poor reproductive health systems women are provided with. Most of the women in need are women who have been exposed to sexual violence and rape, yet the country is not able to provide them with the aid they need.
Overall, the trends of domestic violence against pregnant women permeate across different ethnic groups and Nigerian states. The trends are consistent with other parts of Africa and the attitudes towards violence against pregnant women are in conjunction with the aforementioned trend of viewing domestic violence as permissible under certain circumstances.
While domestic violence is a violation of fundamental human rights, which the Nigerian Constitution is against, there are still provisions that make it legal to engage in domestic violence against women. The provision of the Penal Code applicable in the Northern part of Nigeria specifically encourages violence against women. Underneath its provisions, the beating of a wife for the purpose of correction is legal by the use of (Section 55 (1) (d) of the Penal Code).
Nigeria ratified the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in 1985 but international treaties can only go into effect when Parliament has put in a corresponding domestic law thereby limiting the international treaty to disuse.
Rape is criminalized and under the law, the sentence can range from 10 years to life. There are also fines of about 1,280 dollars.
Amnesty International criticized Nigeria’s judicial system due to its conviction rate of 10 per cent of rape prosecutions.
In an attempt to battle the issue of police discretion and inactivity, Lagos (The largest city in Nigeria), held a two-day sensitization workshop on Domestic Violence law as it applied in the state.
In May 2013, Nigeria’s National Assembly passed a bill to reduce gender-based violence, which is awaiting Senate approval before it becomes law. The Violence Against Persons Bill gave harsher punishments for sexual violence and also provided support and measures such as restraining orders to prevent the continuation of abuse.
When cases do make it to court, they are usually stagnant. In 2010, the traditional king of Akure physical and bloodily assaulted one of his wives resulting in her death. At the urging of the public, the police made a statement that they would press charges. The case was dismissed in 2012.
ANALYSIS AND RESULT.
This chapter shall produce the procedures which the researcher used in collecting and analyzing data. The methods employed include research design area of study and the population of the research for data collection, administration of the instrument and method of data analysis. I shall present the data collected in the study and their analysis based on the research questions which were formulated to guide the study. The researcher also interpreted the results of the questions answered by the respondents from these Christian men and women, Muslims and Jews etc.
The data collected were analyzed comparatively and systematically using percentage analysis to interpret the view of the respondents in this research work, responses from the questionnaires Presented and analyzed in four parts are in correspond to the five research questions the researcher distributed four hundred and fifty (450) questionnaires of this number of questionnaires distributed, four hundred were returned. This analysis is therefore based on four hundred (420) respondents.
- 1 RESEARCH DESIGN
In this research, I shall use a random selection to collect, describe analyze and study data on the response of the church to Domestic Violence. A silent or active voice to broken families. Due to the high level of Domestic Violence. In our modern society with its higher rate in the United States of America, I have a large area for the collection of data.
4.2 AREA OF STUDY
The area of study for this research work shall be the church universal with much concentration on the churches in Nigeria. The study involved selected adults from the age range of 18 years and above. This setting is most suitable for this type of study because the respondents have the character traits of events under investigation.
4.3 THE POPULATION
The population of this research work include the pastors, pastors’ wife, elders of the church, theologians, and men and woman that underwent domestic violence, also I shall be considering documented works that reflected domestic violence in relation to Christianity all over the world. The researcher considers these groups of Christians as peculiar in the sense that their pattern of worship, beliefs, positions in the church and views on biblical issues are reputable. This population of persons shall provide the required data for this research work.
The sample of this research consists of these peculiar church leaders at list four hundred and fifty people (450).
4.5 SAMPLE TECHNIQUE
The researcher employed a purposeful sampling technique to ensure a meaningful; experimentation of the study. Research questionnaires were administered to each of the pastor pastors’ wives, elders theologians, and men and women of domestic violence. The researcher’s choice of these classes of persons was informed by the fact that they are best positioned to supply very useful and accurate information that will make the result of this study most reliable. Respondents were approached in their various houses and the purpose of the study was explained to them. Participation was voluntary and only those who gave informed consent received the questionnaire. They were assured of the confidentiality of their responses and anonymity was achieved since there was no provision on the questionnaire for identifying any personal information. Adults who did not give their informed consent were excluded from the study.
4.6 INSTRUMENT OF DATA COLLECTION
The instrument used for data collection was the questionnaire which consists of 450 sheets. The questionnaire administered was structured in a way that respondents were expected to check the right option (√) from the provided information.
4.7 ADMINISTRATION OF INSTRUMENT
The researcher administered a total of Four Hundred and Fifty (450) questionnaires.
The questionnaires were distributed and the respondents were followed up to ensure that they are completed and returned.
4.8 METHOD OF DATA ANALYSIS
The data collected were analyzed in percentage and it is well tabulated for easy reading and interpretation of the result of 450 questionnaires, which were distributed and 420 were returned and used in the analysis.
This section analyzes and interprets the results of the data collected on this finding. Specifically, the study provided answers to research hypotheses.
It is obvious from the results that domestic violence is a common occurrence in Nigeria just as it is all over the world and should be addressed similarly as a serious plaque that has yet to be resolved or effectively addressed. The findings of this research show that the Nigerian society’s perception of domestic violence has increasingly affected the number of occurrences of domestic violence.
This research work may influence the development of policy by both Government and the Church, practice or service provision, shaping legislation, and altering behaviour. More research work must be carried out in order to evaluate the relationship and effect of religion on the experiences and perceptions of domestic violence victims.
The criminal justice system also has a lot of roles to play in helping victims get the deserved justice. Religious institutions have the responsibility of preaching against the violence of any form and encouraging victims to seek help when abused, they should respond without delay to every complaint made by the victims and referral to the appropriate authorities should be made without prejudice.
Table 4.9 Designation of the respondents
|Jews & Muslims
Adding the total number of frequencies of the individual responses on each question and dividing it by the total number of questionnaires retrieved and multiplying it by a hundred will give us the percentage of the responses, i.e
4.10 RESEARCH QUESTIONNAIRES ONE
Is the church effectively responding to domestic violence in Nigeria?
Table 4.10 Effect Of Church Response.
|The Church is an agent in the fight against domestic violence.
|Some churches are careless about domestic violence victims in Nigeria.
|the church is able to eliminate domestic violence in Nigeria.
|Care for victims of domestic violence is God’s heartbeat.
|Without the Church, domestic violence is here to stay.
Table 4.10 shows that statement (1) has 3.60 (85.7%) strongly agreed responses and 60 (14.3%) agreed. This depicts that the Church is an agent in the fight against domestic violence.
In a statement (2) there are 262 (62.3%) strongly agreed and 158 (37.7%), agreed that Some churches are careless about domestic violence victims in Nigeria.
Statement (3) has 300 (71.4%) strongly agreed and 120 (28.6%) agreed that the church is able to eliminate domestic violence in Nigeria.
Statement (4) has 106 (25.2%) strongly agreed and 290 (69.0%) agreed. It also has 4 (0.9) strongly disagreed and 20 (4.7%) disagreed. This total analysis shows a higher percentage of responses that Care for victims of domestic violence is God’s heartbeat.
Statement (5) has 295 (70.2%) strongly agreed to 95 (22.3%) agreed. It also has 10 (2.3%) strongly disagreed and 21 (5%) disagreed. The total analysis shows a higher percentage of respondents agreed and affirms that Without the Church, domestic violence is here to stay.
4.11 RESEARCH QUESTION TWO
Have the educational scheme of the church, seminars, teachings, theological education and bible schools helped to reduce domestic violence and abuse in Nigeria?
Table 4.11 the effect of the educational scheme of the church.
|Education is a great tool that can reduce domestic violence in Nigeria
|Bible school teaches God’s mind for the church on family life.
|There is a fear of western education for domestic well-being and local settings in northern Nigeria.
|Seminars, teachings and Christian marriage books can help eliminate domestic violence in Nigeria.
Table 4.11 shows that statement (6) has 355 (84.5%) strongly agreed and 65 (15.5%) agreed that Education is a great tool that can reduce domestic violence in Nigeria.
Statement (7) has 229 (54.5%) strongly agreed and 108 (25.7%) agreed that Bible school teaches God’s mind for the church on how to live a family life.
Statement (8) has 202 (48%) strongly agreed and 218 (52%) agreed that there is a fear of western education to domestic well-being and local settings in northern Nigeria.
Statement (9) has 375 (89.2%) strongly agreed. 39 (9.2%) agreed while 1.0 (0.2%) strongly disagreed and 5 (1.1%) disagreed. The total analysis of this question shows a high agreement that Seminars, teachings and Christian marriage books can help eliminate domestic violence in Nigeria.
4.12 RESEARCH QUESTION THREE
The Confection of abuse to the priest is another religious tool that has tremendously helped in reducing domestic violence in Nigeria.
Table 4.12 the effect of Confession.
|This religious tool is causing more harm than good.
|Confession has the ability to reduce crime when handled perfectly.
|Confessing to the priest has the ability to lure the priest into sin.
|It is better to confess directly to God than to the pastor.
Table 4.12 shows that statement (10) has 50 (11.9% ) strongly agreed and 40 (9.52%) agreed. 216 (51.4%) disagreed, while 69 (16.4%) strongly disagree. This shows that a large number of respondents strongly believed that confession is causing more harm than good to the fight against domestic violence.
Statement (11) has 50 (12%) strongly agreed and 367 (87%) agreed, while 3 (1) disagree. This shows that 87% agreed that Confession has the ability to reduce crime when handled perfectly.
Statement (12) has 332 (79%) strongly agreed and 67 (16%) agreed while we also have 4 (1%) strongly disagreed and 17 (4%) disagreed. The above analysis has a greater percentage of responses that affirmed that Confessing to the priest has the ability to lure the priest into sin.
Statement (13) has 100 (24%) strongly agreed and 315 (75%) agreed while we also have 3 (0.7%) strongly disagreed and 2 (0.3%) disagreed. The above analysis shows that It is better to confess directly to God than to the pastor.
4.13 RESEARCH QUESTION FOUR:
Does the church obey and support the federal laws and its proceedings in the handling of domestic crimes and abuses their own ways?
Table 4.13 The impact of Religious laws.
|Religious laws are sacred and don’t go against government laws.
|Christianity supports and protects the interest of repentant members
|Christians are law-abiding citizens.
|Religious laws have all it takes to change criminals.
Table 13. Included that statement (14) has 360 (97.3%) strongly agreed and 10 (1.7%) agreed that Religious laws are sacred and don’t go against government laws.
Statement (15) has 355 (95.9%) strongly agreed and 12 (4.1%) agreed that Christianity supports and protects the interest of repentant members.
Statement (16) has a strong agreement 370 (88.1%) agree that Christians are law-abiding citizens.
statement (17) also strongly agreed on the total justification of God with 420 (100%) this table above shows that a greater percentage of respondents confirm that Religious laws have all it takes to change criminals.
4.14 RESEARCH QUESTION FIVE:
Do you think that the forgiveness and protection of criminal members of the Church who confessed their crimes, hoping that they will change is promoting domestic violence?
Table 4.13 The Impact of member protection.
|Confession brings about repentance, which in turn reduces domestic violence.
|The church should preach more against domestic violence.
|The best protection is the protection from the grip of hellfire.
Table 4.14 shows that statement (18) ahs 340 (91.9%) strongly agreed and 28 (7.6%) agreed, and 2 (0.5%) disagreed. From the analysis above, it shows that 368 respondents agree that Confession brings about repentance, which in turn reduces domestic violence.
Statement (19) ahs 210 (55.8%) strongly agreed 160 (43.2%) agreed that The church should preach more against domestic violence.
Statement (20) has 300 (81.1%) strongly agreed 50 (13.5%) agreed and 12 (3.2%) strongly disagreed with 8 (2.2%) disagreed. Table 4.13 shows a greater frequency of the respondents totally agreeing that the best protection is the protection from the grip of hellfire. This means that Christians should do all it takes to protect their members from going to hellfire, even if it takes reporting them to the appropriate authorities.
FINDINGS, AND CONCLUSION.
|1. Government Agencies Establishment;
We found out that apart from agencies such as Violence Against Person’s Prohibition (VAPP) passed in 2015 in Abuja, Protection Against Domestic Violence Law (PADVL) passed into law in 2007 in Lagos etc, there are no known laws enacted here in Nigeria specifically to check domestic violence and abuse by the Federal Government. Although, many States are now joining Lagos State and Abuja in setting up state agencies to curb Domestic violence.
2. Causes Of Domestic Violence and Abuse;
We found out that the causes of abuse in Nigeria are:
i. Patriarchal society.
ii. Bride price; this brings about the loss of woman’s rights in sub-Saharan Africa where the husband is of the mentality that by paying the bride price, he then owns the wife as a slave.
iii. Local Traditions; many traditions in Nigeria subject the woman to surrender her right to her body and her wealth to her husband.
iv. Low Socioeconomic class.
v. Substance Abuse.
vi. Couple age disparity.
The perceptions of domestic violence vary, based on religion. For example; the Imo state people of eastern Nigeria see the beating of a wife for correction as normal, to them, it means the husband is recounting his money. The Tivi people of north Nigeria view wife-beating as a sign of Love that should be encouraged as evidenced by the statement, “if you are not yet beaten by your husband, then you do not know the joy of marriage and that means you are not yet married.
4. Patriarchal societal Structure;
We also found out that the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria- Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba, have a strong patriarchal societal structure that leads to the justification of domestic violence and abuse. However, the Hausas are more supportive of domestic violence as it is viewed as an I hereby right of the husband.
This is Legal and backed by the Penal Code in the North: the beating of a wife for correction is legal by the use of (section 55 (1) (d) of the penal code).
5. Religious Laws;
The religious and canonical laws empower the clergy to make confidential and secret every confessional issue since the aim of confession is repentance and forgiveness. Our view is that this act is capable of fueling Domestic Violence and abuse because a criminal can decide to hide at a back of religious confession to the priest while at the same time keeping on with his or her criminal act.
6. Church-Owned NGOs.;
The Churches across Nigeria can help more by establishing more NGOs to help the Government Agencies such as; VIOLENCE AGAINST PERSON’S PROHIBITION(VAPP) and PROTECTION AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LAW (PADVL) etc, in the fight against; -Violence against intimate partners.
-Female general motility.
-Abused of the aged.
-Sexual violence and abuse.
7. Governmental Agencies Across The Country;
Just like Lagos State that’s up a specific agency that protects the domestic violence people – (Lagos State Domestic Sexual and Violence Response Team), other states should set up their specific agencies.
Note, if you are living around Lagos, you can call “DSVRT” on phone 112; +2348137960048 or Email:email@example.com. Also, if you are in any of the states that have passed the VAPP act into law, for support please contact NAPTIP by Email at firstname.lastname@example.org and by phone on 0800225562784. Also, if you are in States without any known Government agencies, please call the Nigerian police force.
Religion and religious institutions which seem to be an important place of refuge in the lives of most Nigerians have contributed directly or indirectly to the beliefs about domestic violence. Most of the time, victims are asked to endure the pain and accept it as the will of God as marriages are for better and for worse and till death do us part, meaning divorce is not an option. Some religious practices argued that a husband is the head of the family and has the right to discipline and erring members of the family. The problem in this kind of scenario is who defines the boundary as to what is discipline and what is violence.
The criminal justice system also fails to protect the victims of domestic violence in most cases. Victims have been advised to go back home and settle issues of domestic violence amicably with the perpetrators by those who are supposed to protect them (Nigerian police, courts at various levels etc.). The Nigerian culture shies away from violent acts and most victims are also afraid of seeking help because of the shame and stigmatization associated with domestic violence. Victims are mostly been viewed as irresponsible members of the Nigerian society as against being viewed as a victim and this creates negative self-esteem in victims.
The big and unanswered questions are; can there be a universal definition of domestic violence that will cut across all cultures, beliefs/perceptions and religions?
Are Nigerian women as violent as men?
Can domestic violence ever be eradicated from Nigerian society?
The bottom line is that domestic violence, in many ways, is a sin that remains hidden in the Church and is avoided by clergy and church leaders. Because of ignorance and avoidance, the Church minimizes the costs associated with the long-term effects of domestic violence that go unrecognized and unaddressed. As mentioned earlier, Matthew 18 does not suggest that sin should continue or that victims of abuse must submit to physical and emotional suffering. Powlison, Tripp, and Welch contend that “the husband must be made to understand that the Church’s leadership takes domestic violence seriously and that they will act to protect his wife even as they seek to minister to him and hold him accountable.”1 Titus speaks to the roles of men and women. In Titus we read, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (2:11-13/ESV).
This is a call for the Church to end violence in the home. Each has been given the directive to love others as Christ loves them. Therefore, violence toward family members should never be permitted and must not be regarded by the Church as an insignificant sin. Domestic violence, if not addressed, will most likely lead to death, David Powlison, Paul David Tripp, and Edward T. Welch, Domestic Abuse—How to Help Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2001), 4. 95. The damage done will impact families generation after generation. The Church must understand that the voices of clergy and church leaders matter in the lives of domestic violence victims and the perpetrators of that violence. On the night of his arrest by the temple guard, Jesus asked the disciples to remain alert, attentive, and pray in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus calls the Church to do the same for its members. To remain passive, denying the torture that many families face, and separating itself from the problem of family violence, the Church fails to follow Jesus’ directive. The Church must not “sleep” as church families struggle with domestic abuse—or become comfortable avoiding that struggle. It must rise up to directly confront and battle against the problem of family violence—a problem that can be overcome through the power of the Lord and with the help of the ministries the Church provides. Otherwise, domestic violence will continue to destroy families for generations to come. As a body, the Church—clergy and members—must stand up for victims of domestic violence. Let those called to care for his sheep not sleep when they know there are victims of domestic abuse and families trapped in the cycle of family violence. By the power of our Lord, Jesus Christ, let the Church build up healthy and strong families, training fathers, mothers, and children to know the truth scripture teaches about families and care for one another. Through the actions of clergy and ministry leaders, let the Church be perceived as a place where the broken can come for help. Finally, by the equipping of the Church through God’s hand, may every family be drawn to the Church and may the power of domestic violence cease so that all may know the hope found in Jesus Christ—who is the atonement for all sin and the saviour of a lost world.
I SHALL STOP HERE FOR NOW, TILL THE NEXT UPDATE.
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