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By Raphael James

In about April 2016, a bill for gender equality was presented to the Nigerian Senate, unfortunately it was summarily dismissed. The bill was proposed to protect women’s rights against any gender discrimination in education or employment and more. It called for the elimination of discrimination against women in marriage and protection of widows and children (in regards to inheriting her husband’s property, and also becoming the primary custodian of her children). Not only that, the bill also seeks to deplete all forms of violence against women including domestic abuse, rape and sexual violence. As it turned out to be, the proposed bill was reportedly met with a resounding and thunderous “NO!” from the all-male 90% led Senators.

A bill like this one, would protect women in all the embarrassing situations they find themselves in marriages. Last month there was the report of one Kofoworola in Iseyin, Osun State who was beaten to death because she told her husband that she was too tired to have sex after she returned back from the farm by 6 pm. In Umuahia Ibeku in Abia State, a certain Mrs Onwumere reportedly poisoned her husband and tried to escape. When she was arrested by the police she explained how the husband beats her every night before sex, which was testified to by neighbours and in order to stop the torture she was going through she took the law into her own hand by killing her husband.

There are many cases of domestic violence, on an upsurge across Nigeria. Weekly, we have reported cases of domestic abuses, as the Nigeria dailies scream with headlines like: “Husband beats wife to stupor”, “Wife stabs husband to death” and many others. Domestic violence in Nigeria is on the increase as the statistics are alarmingly daunting. Traditionally, domestic violence committed against women in Nigeria, include: rape, acid attacks, molestation, wife beating, corporal punishment and homicide.

Nigerian women’s’ rights are often violated with impunity. In some communities, wife-beating is often seen as justified, particularly in cases of actual or suspected infidelity on the part of the woman. A woman, who is abused in her family, has very low chances to get protection from the law. In most cases, the victim of domestic violence is mistreated by law and dehumanized by society. Recent research has also shown there to be a direct and significant correlation between a country’s level of gender equality and actual rates of domestic violence.

There was also the case of a couple in Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos, Babatunde Ijibadejo and Bukola Bisoye Ijibadejo. It became the talk of the neighbourhood when Babatunde stunned his neighbours by declaring his 40 years old wife of almost ten years of marriage then missing.

The couple, it is reported got married on April 13, 2006, in what most observers described as a very romantic marriage. Babatunde, a business man, developed sudden hatred for his wife. Neighbours attributes it to the probability that the marriage has not produced a child and over the years, he turned the wife he once loved to a punching bag. This went on for a long time until around August 2016 when Bukola ran out of her matrimonial home with no belongings.

Initially, the husband showed little or no concern believing that she will return back after a day or two, but when his father died in 2018, it became very essential for him to provide his wife to join him to perform the tribal rituals which are needed for the traditional burial of his father.

This made him to become more frantic in the search for his wife to the point of declaring her missing and even paying people handsomely to get her alive by all means. When our reporter contacted the family members of Bukola, they were uncooperative and never wanted to talk about her whereabouts. The aged uncle told us that they were worried about the whereabouts of their daughter and that they pray she is alive and safe wherever she is. An anonymous member of the family, hinted us that she must have travelled out of the country, and there is no plan to allow her return to her husband’s place for fear of her being forced to take the burial rites concoction for the husband’s father. This is more so, when according to alleged historical accounts, Pa Ijibadejo Snr had himself lost his first wife, 7 days after she performed the same burial rites for his own father, Pa Adekunle in 1962. As of the time of filing this report, Pa Adekunle’s rites were yet to be held and the family members are full of expectations that Bukola will yet appear from out of the blues to rescue them from the calamity about to befall them not minding if it costs her, her own life.

Our prayer is that before the present government departs from office next year May 2019, that the bill for the protection of the rights of women be passed into law to protect women across Nigeria. For we know that, it is better they stay alive and stay in their father’s house than to be dead and returned to their father’s house, as a corpse, all in the name of marriage. Women should lean to run away from domestic violence, instead of dying in silence, more so when the cold reality is that if you die today, another woman will take your place.

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