Family law

For Better or For Worse; The new face of domestic violence in Nigeria.

Research available on has it that “220,000 women suffered physical and sexual violence from their spouse or former spouse.” This period of reporting covered 2years between 2014-2016 with a focus on France. Death arising from these assaults is also on the rise, with many not surviving to tell the story.

Bringing this home, the domestic, sexual, and violence team of Lagos state reported 3,147 cases of domestic violence in Lagos state, between January-December 2019. Ours is a society without data, so we do not expect so much in terms of our data collection on matters of this kind.

Why then is domestic violence on the rise?
I would not want to take the expedition to question the foundation of marriages, but just in case one is permitted to ask questions, can it not be right to ask, “if there were no signs along the line? A chameleon is destined to change its body configurations to match its immediate surrounding, how then did you allow that hit to slide down the line, on the premise of a first offender deserving charity.

From one compassion granted, he or she becomes a serial offender, begging this time for your prerogative of mercy that will never run out, because your forgiveness is an ever-flowing stream whose source, even the biggest dinosaur cannot extinguish with all its fire and brimstone.

However, there is always a pointer, there are always signs that a beast exists in the man or woman on whose promise of marriage we are now bead winners. Therefore, we say “I Do” regardless of the visible storm and timing bomb, which lays in wait, patiently waiting to explode.
Sadly, with the bonds now tied, there exist the court of public opinion, and then the rumbling reminder of the vows, to stay through every storm and to survive each moment, regardless of the turbulence.

It is only but a temptation; this too shall pass. Therefore, we survive through the blows, every slap is stomached with a commitment never to appear weak or show signs of a crack in the marriage. This too will pass!

It is easy to liken this reoccurring assault with long-suffering, marriage entails the abundance of virtues and long-suffering should be one. On a divided line that has all the visible pointers of impending doom, we march on, with courage in our breast and commitment to keep our vows.

This is how domestic violence came to wear a new face and gained a place of honor in our homes. For better or for worse. The chaos is welcomed, howbeit with a change of persona and now clothed in the robes of long-suffering and keeping the home.

Here is the bait, only a thin of us makes it out with our heads held up. The others will have a story to tell us when we meet on the other side of the divide and the story I will long to hear and listen to.

Can we curb this menace?
Just like every other societal ill, domestic violence is curable. It has vaccines, however, it is one thing for the patient, the victim to understand that this level of patience, especially when it has emaciated, deserves a remedy. As the Buddhist will say; when the student is ready, the teacher will appear

One good way to be free is to recognize the signs and go with the wisdom of the old, that “prevention is better than cure”. Nevertheless, just like the biblical Delilah, some of us can hide our intentions; in a world where living the fake life is a predominant norm, what else can we not see from the sons and daughters of Adam?

So you take the vows with no scintilla of sign along the line, however, behind that beautiful smile is a beast, waiting patiently to eat off his prey in the silence of the dark. You are entangled and more is the religious injunction to maintain the home, it is for better or for worse.

So as Fela will have it, we chorus in the verses of “Suffering and smiling”, while the obligation to keep the home ranges high, there is a legal option that bares a fortress, against the continuous torture that you bury in silence.

Legal options
Judicial Separation: “all ye, divorce lawyers, destroyers of homes, it is for good that couples should be together through every storm”.Yes, I agree with you, I will sign a pact of peace, when keep your part of the bargain, to come out of that ugly situation with your head up.
Since the interest is to keep the home, stay through the thick, and thin of the chaos, perhaps judicial Separation will do you some good.

As seen in Emmanuel V Funke(2017) LPELR-43251 (CA), all the rights of a valid marriage remain intact when couples opt to separate judicially. Judicial Separation does not in any way affect the right, status, obligations of partners, as spouses are legally married, but permitted to leave alone for the time being. You can live in the same house, but the law has permitted you to keep your boundaries until the storm is over.

This is the position of the law as encapsulated in section 45 of the matrimonial causes Act. Therefore, instead of outrightly seeking a divorce, why can’t we embrace judicial Separation as a means to curb the rambling inferno of domestic violence that seems to have no end.

While I agree that in every marriage the storm will come and sometimes heavily that it shrinks the very foundation on which the marriage is built. We should also know when the long-suffering is a mile close to the mortuary. At this point, living apart may restore the conjugal bliss you once enjoyed. In addition, when this is evident, that the bliss is back, overturning the Decree of Judicial Separation is as simple as accepting his or her apology. Then, what are we left with? Happy homes, surviving the storms.

The goal of every marriage is to live together and grow together. This goal must be conducted with rapt attention and devotion; however, in the pursuit of this objective, you owe a duty to yourself to stay alive.

About the Author
Tamunonye Alapu Babbo is a Law graduate and a Bar hopeful. He is a freelance writer and a team leader of writers, niching a craft in writing for a living.
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