Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

Protecting Women against Domestic Violence: Current Debates and Future Directions

Academic journal article Gender & Behaviour

Protecting Women against Domestic Violence: Current Debates and Future Directions

Article excerpt

Since the creation of the human race, the place and position of the man and woman has been that of complementing their set of roles for carrying out various important tasks. However, over time the ideals and provisions of modern societal values and laws that lay emphasis on social justice and equity of status and opportunity have not been observed to the letter on matters relating to women. With particular reference to Nigeria, evidence abound of increasing cases of domestic violence against women through the acts of battering, rape, infidelity, divorce, burial rites, property ownership and inheritance etc which is an obvious reflection of gender inequalities and women's victimization. This paper examined the inadequacies associated with the custom and legal system to practically enforce the protection and preservation of women's rights against acts of violence. The paper highlights further the inconsistency in various civil and cultural laws to mitigate the propagation of violence against women, which are repugnant to the law of natural justice, equity and good conscience. The paper concludes by asserting firmly that government must develop the right political will to develop and enforce accordingly stringent legal regulation dealing with violence against women as well as the domestication of national and international treaties dealing with respect for human rights for all without discrimination on account of sex, age, race or colour.

There is no better time to sensitize all stakeholders that the failure of any government to prohibit acts of violence against women, or to establish adequate legal protections against such acts, represents a failure of state protection. The universal declaration of human rights aptly asserts, "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights." This statement clearly substantiate the veracity of the fact that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedom that the laws of a state recognizes without distinction of any kind such as ... sex ... birth or other status. However, the extent to which the law and the legal system in Nigeria goes to ensure the protection of women's rights against all forms of discrimination becomes increasingly worrisome especially in matters that relate to domestic violence within the family institutions.

The veiy disturbing realism in most homes is the veiy sordid cases of family violence, emotional, physical or sexual abuse of one family member by another with women and children being the most vulnerable. The fact that there are no clear cut available statistics to measure the extent of family violence simply because victim do not easily admit it to themselves and are not willing to give this kind of information to neighbours, friends and relevant authorities do not preclude the fact that episode of recurring act of physical punishment ranging from slapping, beating, kicking, threatening with a weapon and acid bath etc against women and by extension children are daily occurrences in our society. The UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), which recently spearheaded a global campaign to end violence, estimates that one-quarter of all women world-wide were subjected to rape during their life time.

The simple fact that this seemingly private problems has been transformed into a public issue by various human rights advocates and women's movement have brought to the fore the recognition of this experience as a matter of social concern to which we must all direct our energy, time and resources towards unraveling the causes and seeking solutions to it. On this premise, for the purpose of discussing the imperative of the law in protecting women against domestic violence, the paper is subdivided into the following parts. Part I looks at culture and women in society. Part II deals with law and women in society, Part III provides the theoretical framework on issue of domestic violence in the society, Part IV analyses the incidence, causes and consequences of domestic violence, while Part V sums up the conclusion. …

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