Hiding/Concealing Domestic Violence Is A Crime. Daily Law Tips (Tip 714) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LL.M, ACIArb(UK)
Domestic Violence is never an accident, rather the signs are always there but often ignored by victims, neighbours, friends and family members of victims. Like any thing in Africa, domestic violence offenders are rarely confronted rather their victims are often encouraged to pray and hope for the best. Reporting a violent spouse is considered a taboo in most communities in Nigeria, so victims are forced to suffer and smile until they die! This work emphasis on the crime of hiding domestic violence and urges victims, their friends and families to always report domestic violence to avoid being offenders too.
Realities of Domestic Violence In Nigeria:
1. “There is a deep cultural belief in Nigeria that it is socially acceptable to hit a woman/to discipline a spouse. Domestic violence is widespread and shows no signs of lessening in Nigeria.”
2. “The CLEEN Foundation reports 1 in every 3 respondents admitting to being a victim of domestic violence.”
3. “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.”
4. “A study recently commissioned by the ministry of women’s affairs and social development and the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA) Nigeria with support from the Norwegian Government found out that 28% of Nigerian women aged 25-29 have experienced some form of physical violence since age 15.”
Doctrine of Suffering and Smiling:
Nigerians are fond of condoning and normalising hardship, violence and abuse, since the days of colonisation to the days of military rule. Well, this social imbalance, seems to have creeped into homes, relationship and affairs in Nigeria. Traditionally, women are considered as mere property in most customs in Nigeria (this tradition is unconstitutional, illegal and criminal) and this gives exaggerated self-perception to men, giving room for women and girls to be maltreated and to enjoy same. Many women and girls in Nigeria are often encouraged to endure their domestically violent husbands because according to more elderly women; “men are same”, “it is better to be married”, remain married at all cost”, “endure the pains because of your children” and “what will people say about you?”
The popular afro-beat inventor (Fela Anukpola Kuti) encapsulated the above true state of Nigerians and Nigeria as “suffering and smiling” while condemning the violence poured on Nigerians by the then military dictators. Fela’s songs are still very relevant and reverberating in many homes of Nigerians, as old and young women and girls are brutalised and expected to stomach their pains and smile sheepishly.
Well, enduring, condoning, hiding, protecting, concealing or refusing to support any case of domestic violence is a criminal offence. So, it is safe to say that “suffering and smiling” over domestic violence is a crime in Nigeria. By this, where a person is a victim of domestic violence and that victim with the intention to hide such violence destroys, hides or damages any evidence or proof of such offence, the victim has committed an offence. This offence of the victim is punishable with an impriosnment for not more than 3 years and or fine of not more than N500,000.00.
Also, any person in Nigeria (a person that is not a law enforcement agent) can arrest any suspected offender that has committed an offence in his presence or any person that he/she reasonably suspects to have committed an offence. This is so far as the offence is not an offence that requires a warrant of arrest. Domestic Violence is not an offence that any police officer or any person needs to obtain a warrant before making an arrest.
Domestic violence includes all forms of abuse, harm, violence and the fear of such, including; “rape”, “inflicting of physical injury”, “harmful traditional practices on widows”, “forced financial dependence or economic abuse”, “emotional, verbal and psychological abuse”, “female circumcision and genital mutilation”, “ejection of spouse from home”, “forced isolation or separation from family and friends”, “abandonment of husband or wife, children or other dependents without any means of sustenance”, “stalking”, “political violence”, “indecent exposure”, “hiding domestic violence”, “frustrating investigation of domestic violence”, “damage to property in order to cause distress”, ”intimidation”, “spousal battery”, “attack with harmful substances”, “poisoning”, “incest”, “sexual abuse”, “sexual assault”, “sexual exploitation” and “sexual harassment” among others.
For everytime domestic violence that is hidden, the victim is given another chance to be violated again. There is no guarantee that the victim will not die out of such violence. So, people who only pray and condone domestic violence are praying for the death of the victim. Before any prayer and fasting over domestic violence, there is need for the suspected offender to be reported to the law enforcement agencies (this creates a supervisory eye and investigation) and for medical assessment and treatment, as well as prosecution. A man, a woman, a girl, a boy or any person can be a victim of domestic violence. Although, domestic violence is a criminal offence, hiding such an offence or offender is also a criminal offence.
1. Sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
2. Sections 1, 47 and 48 of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, 2015 and other similar laws in states of the federation.
3. Sections 1, 2, 8, 62, 63, 64 and 65 of the Ekiti State Gender Based Violence (Prohibition) Law, 2019.
4. Leone Usigbe, “Nigerian Women Way ‘Wo’ To Gender-Based Violence” (UN, 2020) <https://www.un.org/africarenewal/news/nigerian-women-say-‘no’-gender-based-violence > accessed 11 December 2020
5. Wikimedia Foundation, “Domestic Violence In Nigeria” (Wikipedia, 2 December 2020) <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domestic_violence_in_Nigeria#cite_note-autogenerated1-3 > accessed 11 December 2020
6. Onyekachi Umah, “Domestic Violence Is A Crime Not A Family Dispute” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 10 December 2020) <https://sabilaw.org/domestic-violence-is-a-crime-not-a-family-dispute/ > accessed 11 December 2020
7. Onyekachi Umah, “An Access To Criminal Laws In Nigeria” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 4 December 2020) <https://sabilaw.org/an-access-to-criminal-laws-in-nigeria/ > accessed 7 December 2020.
8. Onyekachi Umah, “8 New Things About Rape Laws In Nigeria” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 3 December 2020) <https://sabilaw.org/8-new-things-about-rape-laws-in-nigeria/ > accessed 7 December 2020
9. Motolani Alake, “Governor Ortom and his shameful normalization of domestic violence [Pulse Editor’s Opinion]” (Pulse, 8 December 2020) <https://www.pulse.ng/news/local/governor-ortom-and-his-shameful-normalization-of-domestic-violence-pulse-editors/qrmdj0d > accessed 10 December 2020
10. 0lusegun Adeniyi, “Ortom and the Wife Beater” (ThisDay, 10 December 2020) <https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2020/12/10/ortom-and-the-wife-beater/ > accessed 10 December 2020
11. Micheal Bamidele, “The Angbos: Ortom’s Mediation And Trivialisation Of Violence Against Women” (TheGuardian, 8 December 2020) <https://guardian.ng/life/the-angbos-ortoms-mediation-and-trivialisation-of-violence-against-women/> accessed 10 December 2020
12. OluTimehin Adegbeye, “Nothing Happens When Women Are Raped in Nigeria” (TheNewYorkTimes, 4 September 2020) <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/04/opinion/nigeria-rape-sexual-abuse.html > accessed 2 December 2020
13. Onyekachi Umah, “ChannelsTv Interviews Onyekachi Umah on Rape and the Laws.” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 20 November 2020) <https://sabilaw.org/channelstv-interviews-onyekachi-umah-on-rape-and-the-laws/ > accessed 2 December 2020
14. Onyekachi Umah, “Can A Woman Be Charged With Rape” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 24 June 2020) <https://sabilaw.org/can-a-woman-be-charged-with-rape-daily-law-tips-tip-595-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-ll-m-aciarbuk/ > accessed 2 December 2020
15. Onyekachi Umah, “Can A Husband Rape His Wife” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 19 June 2020) <https://sabilaw.org/can-a-husband-rape-his-wife-daily-law-tips-tip-592-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/ > accessed 2 December 2020.
16. Warif Center, “Rape Stats In Nigeria” (warifng) <https://warifng.org/rape-stats-in-nigeria/> accessed 2 December 2020
17. Morenike Folayan, Morolake Odetoyinbo, Abigail Harrison and Bradon Brown, ”Rape in Nigeria: a silent epidemic among adolescents with implications for HIV infection”  7(25583) Global Health Action <https://doi.org/10.3402/gha.v7.25583> accessed 2 December 2020
18. Onyekachi Umah, “When Is Seduction Or Indecent Dressing A Justification For Rape In Nigeria?” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 18 June 2020) <https://sabilaw.org/when-is-seduction-or-indecent-dressing-a-justification-for-rape-in-nigeria-daily-law-tips-tip-591-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/ > accessed 2 December 2020
19. Onyekachi Umah, “New Punishment For Rape In Nigeria” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 23 June 2020) <https://sabilaw.org/new-punishment-for-rape-in-nigeria-daily-law-tips-tip-594-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/ > accessed 2 December 2020
20. Onyekachi Umah, “Rape Cannot Be Settled Out Of Court (No Room For Pay-Off/Forgiveness/Withdrawal Of Complaints” (LearnNigerianLaws.com,26 June 2020) <https://sabilaw.org/rape-cannot-be-settled-out-of-court-no-room-for-pay-off-forgiveness-withdrawal-of-complaints-daily-law-tips-tip-596-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/ > accessed 2 December 2020
21. Adetomiwa Isiaka,“Nigeria declares ‘state of emergency’ on rape and sexual assault” (global voices, 3 July 2020) <https://globalvoices.org/2020/07/03/nigeria-declares-state-of-emergency-on-rape-and-sexual-assault/ > accessed 2 December 2020
22. BCC, “Nigeria’s Kaduna passes law to castrate child rapists” (BBC, 11 September 2020) <https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-54117462 > accessed 2 December 2020.
23. Onyekachi Umah, “A Female Too, Can BE Guilty Of Rape” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 13 December 2018) <https://sabilaw.org/daily-law-tips-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-tip-248-a-female-too-can-be-guilty-of-rape-in-nigeria/ > accessed 2 December 2020
24. Onyekachi Umah, “Ages At Which Sexual Intercourse With Consent Will Amount To Rape” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 20 February 2020) <https://sabilaw.org/ages-at-which-sexual-intercourse-with-consent-will-amount-to-rape-daily-law-tips-tip-509-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/ > accessed 2 December 2020
25. Onyekachi Umah, “How To Prove Rape In Nigeria).” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 2 July 2019) <https://sabilaw.org/how-to-prove-rape-in-nigeria-daily-law-tips-tip-363-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarb-uk/ > accessed 2 December 2020.
26. Onyekachi Umah, “Child Marriage/Abuse Is A Crime (Rape): An Exposé On Laws Prohibiting Child Marriage” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 22 June 2020) <https://sabilaw.org/child-marriage-abuse-is-a-crime-rape-an-expose-on-laws-prohibiting-child-marriage-daily-law-tips-tip-593-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/ > accessed 2 December 2020
27. Onyekachi Umah, “Forced Marriage Is An Offence In Nigeria.” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 21 October 2020) <https://sabilaw.org/forced-marriage-is-an-offence-in-nigeria/ > accessed 2 December 2020
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