Domestic Violence is a prevailing issue for both women and men existing in various communities, ethnicities and homes in Africa. It is a delicate problem with suboptimal awareness and numerous laws protecting the subject-matter both internationally and locally but there seems to be diminutive efforts by states towards the implementation of the said laws, moreso adequate protective measures for victims in Africa. Although some international organisations are making advancements to curb the vice, state laws preceed them.
Most scholars feel the imbalance in the educational, political, health and economic systems along sides substandard awareness are to blame, as some women don’t regard certain acts that amount to domestic violence as such and most feel these reactions are things that should be tolerated in marriages and seldom report such acts as a result.
Africans have failed to understand the scope, depth, causes and effects of the issue, as some neglect intricate terms in their definitions failing to encapsulate the general thesis further-more the psychological effects on its victims.
The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (1993) defines violence against women as
Any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.
The World Health Organisation also terms it as ‘Intimate Partner Violence’ [IPV] defining it as a “behaviour by an intimate partner or ex-partner that causes physical, sexual or psychological harm, including physical aggression, sexual coercion, psychological abuse and controlling behaviours.”
The abuse often occurs after marriage or after the relationship has gone a distance before either parties begin to exhibit or notice these traits. These traits are synonymous with people with control issues, jealousy, children who have experienced or are experiencing violence, culture, religion, class amongst many others.
Executive Director & Founder of Media Concern Initiative for Women and Children; Dr. Princess Olufemi Kayode in an interview with ChannelsTv gave some reasons why domestic violence is still in play.
First, she said; women have let it persist because they refuse to report these cases, as they feel the violence is justifiable. For example, ‘I burnt the pot of food so I deserved what came’ or ‘I didn’t take permission before I went out’. These are not the actual reasons, most times it has to do with the men having issues themselves, their background, upbringing and social circles; the victims take these flimsy excuses as justification for the violence.
Also there are no plans either by the government or private establishments that provide protective measures for women to get out of such situations with their kids.
Low Literacy Rate.
Africa’s low literacy rate equates to about seventy percent. Educational bodies have failed to uphold proper educational standards failing to provide quality teachers which translates to suboptimal standard of students. Moreso theses bodies have failed to incorporate through the educational system important topics which campaign against acts like: female genitile mutitilation, maternal mortality, femicide, under-aged marriage, marital rape, rape, partner homicide, coerced abortions, forced prostitution and economically coerced sex [ all amount to Domestic Violence ].
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines child abuse and child maltreatment as “All forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power.
Neglect be it physical, supervisory, educational,medical and straight up abandonment.”
I’d like to quote the UN also by saying “no violence against children is justifiable, and all violence against children is preventable.” But African parents have justified these treatments on the disguise of ‘home training‘ failing to understand the difference between implementing corrective punishment and punitive actions in other words corporal punishment involving “hitting (‘smacking’, ‘slapping’, ‘spanking’) children, with the hand or with an implement – whip, stick, belt, shoe, wooden spoon, etc. But it can also involve, for example, kicking, shaking or throwing children, scratching, pinching, biting, pulling hair or boxing ears, forcing children to stay in uncomfortable positions, burning, scalding or forced ingestion (for example, washing children’s mouths out with soap or forcing them to swallow hot spices).”
“Gender equality between men and women entails the concept that all human beings, both men and women, are free to develop their personal abilities and make choices without the limitations set by stereotypes, rigid gender roles and prejudices. Gender equality means the different behaviour, aspirations and needs of women and men are considered, valued and favoured equally. It does not mean that women and men have to become the same, but that their rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not depend on whether they are born male or female. Gender equity means fairness of treatment for women and men, according to their respective needs. This may include equal treatment or treatment that is different but which is considered equivalent in terms of rights, benefits, obligations and opportunities.”
— ABC Of Women Worker’s Rights And Gender Equali ty, ILO, 2000. p. 48.
Gender Inequality is synonymous with domestic violence in Africa on the precept that women are to be seen and not heard. Gender is a major factor when it comes to allocating jobs, political sits, earnings, forefront roles in corporations, social spaces, villages, schools, churches and mosques.
Africa is yet to maintain gender equality most especially in North Africa where it is non-existence.
Conclusively, Africa should make advancements towards curbing domestic violence and countries like Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa are making moves, putting in place domestic violence websites and toll-free helpline for victims [ hotline operated by Healthcare Assistance Kenya-1195; Domesticviolence.com.ng toll-free number +2348107-572-829; People Opposing Women Abuse at firstname.lastname@example.org, toll-free number 011-642-4345(6) respectively].
The government should breach the gap between earnings, power and productivity also by working with schools and youths in breaking inter-generational cycles of gender Inequality will help curb domestic violence in the society.