She had made her mistakes, her husband behaved like a psychopathic monster, but we, the society, organized the whole crime. Ronke Shonde’s blood is on us all. Such is the story of marital violence.
Two days ago, another case of marital violence happened under our noses. The sad news of Ronke Bewaji Shonde, who was allegedly killed by her husband broke and the Internet was thrown into frenzy. She was a mother of two kids (six and four year-olds) who had supposedly lived happily with her husband of several years. At the morning of the sad incident, their non-resident nanny came to the house to discover that the two children were crying behind a locked door. Neighbours came around, broke into the house, and discovered, on the floor, Ronke Shonde’s lifeless body with gory wounds on the head. He had allegedly killer, escaped with her phones, and locked the children and her body in. Such is the sad story of a beautiful lady who was in her mid-thirties and was just about to start enjoying her life.
Everybody started to curse and demonize the husband, the alleged killer. Of course, he deserves to be demonized. Not only that, he should be arrested, prosecuted, and if found guilty, receive the appropriate punishment to serve as a deterrent to others. Many other people also blamed the deceased for not speaking up early or fleeing such an abusive relationship. After the incident, reports surfaced of the problem chronically running in the background while she kept face in the public. She hid all her marital problems from the public and third parties. She’s been blamed for it. Well. I won’t put much of the blame on her. She had made her mistakes, her husband behaved like a psychopathic monster, but we, the society, organized the whole crime. Ronke Shonde’s blood is on us all. Such is the story of marital violence.
Our mentality is just wrong as a people. Marital violence is a worldwide problem and every society should own up to it but around here, we have a peculiar problem that needs a peculiar mental reorientation. Marital violence, just like many other crimes, may derive its inspiration from the prevalent ideologies in the society. I’ve thought about it and come up with seven flaws in our reasoning as a people. These are dangerous traditional mindsets that contribute to the menace of marital violence.
1. Marriage is a do-or-die affair for women
We teach girls that they’re failures if they’re not married. We teach them that any woman in the marriageable age that’s not in her husband’s house is a failure. So the girls grow up very desperate to get married. Desperation forces them to endure abusive courtships. She doesn’t know if she would get a nicer guy to marry her and we’ve told her she must marry or go to hell. So despite her seeing the signs that the guy may later become a monster of a husband, she still goes ahead to marry him. Some of the girls start telling themselves in baseless optimism that the guy will change later. You can’t blame them. We put them in such a precarious situation.
And when they’re married and the marriage is abusive, they force themselves to remain in the marriage. It’s because we tell them that separation or divorce is a taboo. ‘Christians must not divorce’. ‘Muslims must not divorce’. ‘Well cultured Africans don’t divorce.’ These are the slogans that we sing into their heads that make them to endure the verbal assaults, the slaps, and the knocks. There are families that will chase their daughters back to the man’s house if she flees on account of violence. To them, a married woman living with her parents is a disgrace upon the family. And if she goes to live in an apartment rented by herself, she’s called a prostitute. It’s not every woman that’s psychologically strong enough to survive the slut-shaming.
2. Man is the head of the home and his authority must not be challenged
Head of the home my foot! I have no respect for any ideology that puts a gender above another. This is how we bring boys up with a bullish mentality, boys that grow up and think their wives’ feelings are only secondary to their own desires. If he marries a confident and intellectually independent woman who won’t kowtow to his ego, he resorts to violence to make her submit. It starts from screaming her down to hitting her. He’s been brainwashed that his authority must not be challenged and he’s going to do just anything that keep that arrangement. Boys must be trained with the orientation that they need to behave in a way as to earn their wives’ peaceful stay with them.
In the area of sex, it leads to rape. In one of my previous articles, I discussed these points in relation to marital rape. Men who think they’re unchallengeable authorities in their homes are the ones who rape their wives. Marital violence includes marital rape, assaults, and murder.
3. A woman must not seek help for her domestic problems
This is another dumb one. Men are free to discuss their wives with their friends but women who are going through hard situations in their homes must not seek help from friends and family. That’s what we tell them. And that’s why when they’re suffering marital violence, they keep it to themselves. In the Tiwa-Teebillz saga, she narrated that all the while the problem was going on, she was trying to keep face in public and on social media. Of course, she did that till it exploded on their faces.
I even heard of a pastor that when he finishes beating his wife, they both show up in church on Sunday morning and pretend like nothing has happened. How people sacrifice their safety and welfare on the altar of public acceptance baffles me. For me, there’s no dignity or effizy in suffering marital violence in silence. If you’re in an abusive relationship and you need help, speak up.
4. A woman’s matrimonial home is her source of rehabilitative lessons
This heading in my tribal parlance goes thus: ‘Ilé ọkọ, ilé ẹ̀kọ́ ni’. In fact, marital violence and abuse has been ostentatiously monikered ‘ìyà ilé ọkọ’. Total nonsense! Another Yoruba adage translates thus: ‘A woman is a lunatic whose psychiatric treatment can not be completed in her father’s house but will surely be completed in her husband’s house’. You see now? The husband is to train her like his daughter, we say. That’s why if she tries to disobey, he disciplines her. To the traditional people, that’s the much-needed ethical straightening. To people with advanced reasoning, that’s marital violence. Plain and simple!
5. A woman must endure marital violence for the sake of her children
Another stupid one! Of course, children suffer when their parents separate but that doesn’t mean the woman should offer her own life as a burnt offering. If the society (including the woman’s family) is more accommodating, the children can be taken care of. A woman doesn’t have to endure marital violence. She can flee the danger along with her children. If she’s financially independent and she has sufficient support from her family, they (she and her kids) can pull through successfully. Nothing can replace life.
And who says the children are safe if the woman and her children remain with the beastly husband?
6. You must not interfere in people’s homes
Rubbish! This is why people hear scuffles and noise coming from their neighbours’ house but don’t go there and knock on the door. They tell themselves to mind their businesses. You don’t go between a couple, they say. But they forget that that rule only applies to the couple that’s not showing signs of distress. Any friend, neighbour, or family member that sees any sign of marital violence but turns the blind eye is evil and if any negative consequence happens (like murder in this case), they should hold themselves responsible. What happened to being your sister’s keeper, uh?
Sometimes, the woman is helpless. She just needs some help to break free. She needs someone to give her an idea or to encourage her to take a bold step to liberate herself. At that point, she might be confused, indecisive, and psychologically weak: she needs someone to make her decide. She might even be feeling pity or some stupid love for him despite the beatings. It’s called Stockholm syndrome. This is why the people around her need to be strong and come to her aid. She might need someone to provide an asylum or call the police.
In a previous article, I wrote about why funding NGO’s may be better than dropping your money in church. There are non-profit organizations that cater to domestic violence situations. I came across one online. It goes by the name Centre for Health Law Ethics and Development (CHELD) and they have a domestic violence section. They carry out research and provide public enlightenment on the different types of domestic violence. They also support victims in all aspects. If you notice any marital violence around you, you can contact them here:
Federal Government of Nigeria Toll Free Number for Violation of Girls and Women
CHELD Domestic Violence Helplines
0810 757 2829; 0813 164 3208
Project Alert – 234-1-8209387; 08052004698; 08180091072
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
For further information, check their website on http://domesticviolence.com.ng/about-us/
7. Only lunatics on the streets need psychologists
Well, that’s not true. Most of us walking around the neighbourhood pretending to be perfectly sane actually need to see a psychologist. It takes a psychopath to kill his wife or constantly batter her. In a country where people are educated about mental health, such a man should be seeing his shrink for anger issues and having his head checked generally. But in Nigeria, until you’re in rags, roaming the streets and sleeping in uncompleted buildings, you don’t need a mental check. That’s why subtle lunatics have remained in their matrimonial homes maltreating their wives.
P. S. While female-on-male marital violence also occurs, male-on-female cases are far more prevalent. That’s why I’ve limited this write-up to just that.
Thanks for reading. Please feel free to use the comment section below.