1.0.     Introduction

One of the most typical types of violence against women is domestic violence, often known as intimate partner violence. In all contexts, intimate partner violence affects a wide range of social, cultural, and religious groups. Violence in relationships is a possibility for both men and women. Although women can be aggressive in relationships with men, the majority of violence against women is committed by their intimate male partners.[1] In contrast, men are more likely to be the victims of violent crimes committed by strangers or acquaintances than by family members or close friends.[2]

Domestic violence may be actualized through several forms of abuse to which a partner may be exposed. These may include, but are not restricted to, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, and economic abuse. The use of force in a way that hurts the victim or puts them at risk of being hurt constitutes physical abuse. All types of sexual assault, exploitation, and harassment fall within the purview of sexual abuse. Degrading and dehumanizing conducts towards a person is a component of emotional and psychological abuse. Economic abuse encompasses abusing a person for financial benefits, denying a person economic or financial resources which they are entitled to or which they require out of necessity, or controlling a person’s choice of occupation.

In this article, there would be a consideration of what domestic violence is, the leading causes of domestic violence, and the legal framework against domestic violence in Nigeria.

2.0 Domestic Violence in Nigeria

Domestic violence or intimate partner violence, can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.[3] Domestic violence is defined as purposeful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and other abusive behaviour committed by one intimate partner against another as part of an organized pattern of power and control. It encompasses all forms of abuse, including physical, sexual, mental, and emotional.

According to Kalra (1996),[4] there are several ideas as to why domestic violence occurs. These include psychological theories that take into account the mental and personality qualities of the offenders as well as social theories that take into account environmental elements such as social learning and stress in the perpetrator’s setting. Psychological theories emphasize the offender’s personality features and mental makeup. Unpredictable outbursts of rage, poor impulse control, and low self-esteem are all personal features. According to a number of theories, psychopathology and other personality disorders are contributing causes, and maltreatment that was witnessed or experienced as a kid can make certain people more aggressive as adults.

On 1st June, 2022, the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency stated that 2,334 cases of domestic violence were recorded in the state within the previous six months.[5]

A survey on domestic violence was performed by NOI Polls Limited in collaboration with Project Alert, and the results showed that the majority of Nigerians (78 percent) believed that domestic violence had been on the rise recently throughout Nigeria. The South-West geopolitical zone has the highest prevalence (86%) and the South-South zone has the lowest prevalence (12%). However, analysis of the data revealed that economic difficulty, misunderstanding between spouses, and patience or tolerance level of couples are the leading causes of domestic violence in Nigerian families[6]

Agbo & Choji (2014) conducted a study in Abuja, Nigeria, where a mother of one spoke about how her husband assaulted her and frequently hit her while he was drunk, which led her to lose two pregnancies. A 34-year-old housewife named Mrs. Fatima Bankole had her face stitched 26 times in July 2014 after her husband Alhaji Kamoru Bankole beat her up for taking a piece of fish from the pot to break her fast.[7]

3.0 Legal Framework against Domestic Violence

The first time violence against women was first highlighted within the African context was in the Dakar Declaration of 1994[8] (African Platform for Action and the Dakar Declaration of 1994.) According to the Dakar Declaration, violence prevents women from reaching their full potential and endangers their safety, freedom, and autonomy. It also acknowledged that violence is frequently not reported because the majority of women keep quiet about the violence they have experienced out of embarrassment, fear, or concern that they will be perceived as irresponsible.[9]

The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (which was ratified by the required 15 member States, including Nigeria, and came into force on the 26th of November, 2005), obliges State parties to take action to address both the issue of violence against women and other aspects of women’s rights. The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa defines violence against women as “all acts perpetrated against women which cause or could cause them physical, sexual, psychological and economic harm, including the threat to take such acts, or to undertake the imposition of arbitrary restrictions on or deprivation of fundamental freedoms in private or public life, in peace time and during situations of armed conflict or of war.”[10]

There is provision for the opportunity for advocacy with respect to women’s rights since the inception of the civilian administration. Some of the laws and policies that have been formulated to eradicate discrimination based on gender differences include the Infringement of a Widow’s and Widower’s Fundamental Rights Law No. 3 of Enugu State, Prohibition of Female Gender Mutilation Law, Cross River State, the Child Rights’ Act, The Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition, Enforcement and Administration) Act 2003, and the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria[11]

Statutes against domestic violence are essential with respect to safeguarding the objects of domestic violence or abuse. Some attempts have been made to provide some legal framework for the combat against domestic violence in some states in Nigeria. Some of these laws include Lagos State Protection Against Domestic Violence Law, 2007, Ebonyi State Protection Against Domestic Violence Law, 2007, Ekiti State Gender Based Violence Law, 2011, Violence Against Person’s Prohibition (VAPP) Act, 2015 applicable only in Abuja, but which has been passed into law in Oyo, Anambra, Bauchi, Kaduna, and Bauchi states, and Cross River Domestic Violence and Maltreatment of Widows’ Prohibition Law, 2014.

4.0 Conclusion

The incidents of domestic violence in Nigeria could be reduced by a cultural shift that supports the protection of human rights for all ages and genders. It is necessary for legislators to implement efficient and modern legislation and reforms to address domestic violence in Nigeria. Every state of the Federation should be included in the legal framework designed to curb domestic violence in Nigeria, not just a few. The occurrence of such a despicable act as domestic violence or abuse in the nation would be reduced with the extension of this legal framework to all states.


[1] Heise L, Ellsberg M, Gottemoeller M. (1999) Ending violence against women. Baltimore, MD, Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, Center for Communications Programs.

[2] Heise L, Garcia Moreno C. (2002) Violence by intimate partners. In: Krug EG et al., eds. World report on violence and health. Geneva, World Health Organization, 87– 121.

[3] https://www.un.org/en/coronavirus/what-is-domestic-abuse. Accessed on 25th December, 2022

[4] Kalra, M. (1996). Juvenile delinquency and adult aggression against women. (Unpublished M.A. Thesis) Wilfred Laurier University. http://scholars.wlu.ca/etd/570/

[5] https://punchng.com/2334-domestic-violence-cases-in-four-months-worrisome-lagos-govt/ Accessed on 25th December, 2022

[6] Domestic Violence in Nigeria. Project Alert on Violence Against Women and NOI Polls Report, July, 2016.

[7] Agbo, C. & Choji, R. (2014). Domestic violence against women: Any end in sight? From leadership/news/382501

[8] African Platform for Action, adopted at the 5th Regional Conference on Women, Dakar, 16 – 23 November 2004. UN Doc. E/CN.6/1995/add.2, par. 67, www.un.org/documents/ecosoc/cn6/1995/ecn61995-5add2.htm

[9] African Platform for Action, adopted at the 5th Regional Conference on Women, Dakar, 16 – 23 November 2004. UN Doc. E/CN.6/1995/add.2, par. 67, www.un.org/documents/ecosoc/cn6/1995/ecn61995-5add2.htm

[10] Article 1 of the Protocol.

[11] Section 42 of the Constitution provides for the equality of all Nigerian citizens irrespective of sex, religion or ethnic group.

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