Taming the Hydra-headed Monster called “Domestic Violence”
In the last one week, the ever bubbling commercial city of Lagos, Nigeria has been in the spotlight for the wrong reasons. Our news stand has been awash with reports on the tragic murder of Mrs. Ronke Bewaji Shonde. She was alleged to have been killed by her husband, Mr. Lekan Shonde after a squabble which led to her being beaten to death. Many have expressed shock and anger, condemning the barbaric act as totally unacceptable and calling for justice without mercy.
This is one out of the numerous cases of gruesome death at the hands of one’s spouse. How sad that this hydra-headed monster called Domestic Violence has been allowed to permeate our society (especially Africa), thus putting the female gender in a vulnerable situation as endangered species. It is most worrisome that cases of domestic violence are fast becoming a trend, often leading to tragic death, losses, pain and above all, exposing the children born or raised in such a situation to needless trauma and affliction.
We cannot but wonder why couples that started out as lovers end up battering each other, even to the point of death. As it stands, tongues are wagging as everyone continues to nail Mr. Lekan Shonde for killing his beautiful wife. Many have also blamed Late Ronke Shonde for failing to speak out or seek separation/divorce early enough. But the question we all must ask is -why are so many husbands today abusive and violent? Is it the harsh economic trend that has put so much pressure on them that they have totally lost control? Or is it the women in their lives, I mean the wives that are so unruly and unable to tame their tongues, thus provoking their husbands beyond remedy? Is it our culture that has continued to encourage men to see their wives as beasts of burden that must be tamed through the whip?While we continue to make excuses for this anomaly that is fast turning our sons into monsters and murderers, wasting our daughters’ strength and lives and making our children orphans and vulnerable, the truth we have failed to admit is that our society has a huge chunk of the blame.
Yes, our culture and society must be blamed for breeding a generation of wife beaters and abusers. You wonder why? The truth is that our society focuses so much on grooming and preparing the girl-child for marriage and we neglect the boy-child. From a tender age, we train our daughters to know how to cook, clean the house, tend a garden, do the laundry and every other house chores. When she is lazy at it we snap and warn her to be wise and learn fast so she doesn't get into trouble when she gets to her husband's house. As she grows and gets ready for marriage we take time to specially tutor her on how to live with a man, win his love and affection, care for the home, manage the family purse and take good care of others as a good wife and virtuous woman. We even go as far as telling her how to treat in-laws well so as not to incur their wrath, how to raise good children and so on and so forth.
The question is- what do we tell the boys that finally become men and settle down to marry? How do we groom them for married life? Oftentimes we tell them to bottle up their emotions and be manly. We tell them never to cry or betray emotions so they are not seen as weaklings. Even as mothers, we make our sons believe they are superior to the daughters and that the daughters must serve them. While the girls are busy with cooking and other house chores, we allow the boys to go play football or watch the television. In fact, in some families, it is a taboo for the male child to enter the kitchen to cook or wash plates. So, while we train our daughters to be subservient, we train our sons to be lords and kings, right under our roofs.
As the boys grow and become men, we believe that once a man gets a job, rents an apartment and furnishes it, he is prepared for marriage. Once he can feed his wife and children, then he is responsible and good to go. Who trains him in how to treat a woman, how to understand her and get the best from her? Who trains him on how to respect a woman’s feelings and nurture her as his better half? Oftentimes, nobody does.
Some churches even do pre-marriage counseling for some weeks or months and believe the man has learnt all he needs to know to make a marriage work. No wonder many husbands get into marriage but are completely clueless as to the intricacies involved.
For most boys, their dads are their role models. Unfortunately however, many of those dads didn't have good marriages, so history is being repeated in their sons’ homes.
Another factor is that in this part of the world, there is so much desperation on the path of the ladies today that they are so much in a hurry to marry and do not take time to study the man and know him well enough before signing the dotted lines. Even when they see the indices that the relationship won't work, they overlook it and say ‘he will change.’ In this also, society is to blame because it is the society and family, sometimes, even mothers that put so much pressure on these single ladies to marry fast and have children before menopause sets in.
As we seek to stem the tide of this ugly trend of domestic violence, we must go back to the basics and redefine our cultural values. We must begin to give quality attention to raising responsible and loving sons so they can be responsible husbands with the right values. We must train our sons to respect the girls and women and not see them as subservient. We must train them to take responsibility for the success of their marriage and not blame the wife whenever things go wrong. We must also teach our daughters to tame their tongues and not allow it run riot at the slightest provocation. We must treat our sons and daughters as equal.
We must train both sons and daughters to value human life and treat them with dignity! No one should be exonerated; both men and women deserve to be treated with respect. Both the husband and wife should be absorbed from all forms of abuse, be it verbal, emotional, psychological or physical.