Finally.. Justice for Victims of Domestic Violence
Updated: Aug 22, 2018
I was home alone… I had just finished my senior WAEC and I was waiting for my admission into the university. I was sat in the sitting room when my older family friend, almost like a cousin came in to get the keys to the car, he was in town for his NYSC and stopped by when everyone was home. I wondered why he had come in the daytime… Suddenly he sat close by which made me uncomfortable and then as if in an instance he grabbed my chest, I was bigger than most 17 year olds, I got up shocked and startled then he continued attempting to put his hands up my skirt, I screamed and pushed him away, he hit me hard across the face. I ran into my room and locked the door and then locked the bathroom door. After calling my name several times, he left and in the silence I wept. When my mother came home, I went to her and told her the awful ordeal; I don’t know what I expected but not this. She told me to keep it to myself so that the world does not think I had defiled myself.
This is the story of many Nigerian women who until now had no cause of action and therefore no recourse to the justice system. The Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Bill which was made into law by outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan has come with much euphoria.
Domestic violence is one of the world’s most prevalent human rights violations. According to gender-based violence statistics, one in three women worldwide will be physically abused in her lifetime. In Nigeria alone, over 50% of women are routinely abused by their husbands, with more than two-thirds of Nigerian women believed to experience physical, sexual and psychological abuse. Nearly half of all domestic violence cases are never reported to the police.
The new bill now signed into law covers a wide spectrum of violence, including female circumcision, domestic violence, early forced marriage, rape (including marital) and harmful widowhood practices, it recognises the rights of all to safety both in the workplace and the home. It recognises the right to physical and psychological integrity in times of peace and in areas of conflict.
The key benefits in the new law include a more comprehensive definition of rape, harsher sentences for rape and other sexual offences, compensation for rape victims, institutional protection from further abuse through restraining orders and a new fund to support the rehabilitation of victims of violence.
Read the bill now passed into law here