The Centre for Health Ethics Law and Development (CHELD) held its most recent edition of the Conversations on Domestic Violence™ on December 6, 2014 from 11am to 2.45pm in the lovely ambience of Ginger Tapas, Bar and Grill, in Victoria Island. It was tagged The Red Diary Brunch, and featured expert speakers on aspects of domestic violence and violence against women in general, and the presentation of CHELD’s resource The Red Diary™. The Red Diary™ is a resource developed by CHELD to address an existing gap in the assistance available for domestic abuse in Nigeria. It provides tips based on research, experience, and context, to assist persons in domestic abuse situations. It contains survival tips and a directory of organisations throughout Nigeria which can provide help – shelters, legal advice, material support, and counselling. The Red Diary is freely downloadable at http://domesticviolence.com.ng/the-red-diary/
Participants at this edition of the Conversation were drawn from all walks of life – government, law, business, education et cetera. They included Envera Selimovic, United Nations Senior Representative at the United Nations Public Information Centre, Lagos, Ndidi Nwuneli MFR, Founder of LEAP Africa and Director at AACE Foods, Kehinde Iyade, representing the Office of the Public Defender in Lagos State. Dr Orode Doherty, Country Director, Africare, Laila St Matthew Daniels of Acts Generation, amongst several others. You may view pictures of the event here.
The speakers included Dr Cheluchi Onyemelukwe, the Executive Director of CHELD, who introduced and presented The Red Diary. Others were Ms Funke Williams, a survivor, an advocate against domestic violence, and a businesswoman. Funke bravely shared her experience of domestic violence with us, detailing how she left an abusive marriage. Her story lends credence to our belief that, with the right help and support, one can survive abusive relationships and lead a fulfilling life. Dr Aderibigbe, Head of Department of Private and Commercial Law at Babcock University School of Law and Security Studies spoke about the continuing vacuum in our legislation which allows abuse to thrive, including Penal Code provisions that permit a husband to beat his wife in chastisement, and the non-recognition of marital rape in our criminal law legislation and jurisprudence. She also identified existing legislation in states like Lagos,Ekiti, AkwaIbom, Jigawa, and Cross River States which are enacted to prohibit domestic violence and other kinds of gender-based violence. Ms Funmi Johnson, CEO of BorntoBeBeautiful, and who worked for fifteen years in the domestic violence field as a lawyer and a trainer of law enforcement officers, prosecutors and NGOs emphasised the need to be more inclusive in addressing domestic violence, taking not only physical violence into account but also emotional and financial abuse.
The session was very interactive, inviting comments and observations from most participants. Ms Selimovic of the United Nations, in particular, shared personal experiences and emphasised the need for policy interventions to reach down to all strata of society, in particular, women in rural areas and those who are handicapped in terms of finances and education. She emphasised the need to follow-up initiatives like The Red Diary for greater effectiveness.Mrs St Matthew Daniel of Acts Generation also emphasised the need for non-governmental organisations working on domestic violence and other gender-based violence to collaborate in order to be more effective.
Below is a summation of the key points made at the Conversation:
- Efforts like The Red Diary are still key to ensure that people know the interventions and supports that are currently available. Every effort must be made to support such the development and distribution of resources like The Red Diary.
- Financial abuse is a part of domestic abuse. It can affect people from every class of society, including the seemingly well-off.
- The home/family is still a key resource in the fight to eliminate domestic violence, including all forms of gender-based violence. Children, boys and girls, must be raised with the right principles – self-esteem,self-respect, respect for others, non-excusing of violence towards any gender, in particular, the female gender, and ability to compromise. Boys should not be raised to believe that they are superior to their sisters or girls in general, although differences in gender are a fact.
- Existing legal vacuum and bad laws that still provide a context for domestic violence and other kinds of gender-based violence to thrive must be reformed. This reformation can come most effectively through increased female participation in political matters. Such participation would include standing for elections, electing the candidates who take account of women’s interests and seeking means to holdour representatives at every political level accountable.
- Domestic violence affects women across income groups in Nigeria, including
- Financial independence of women, though not sufficient by itself, is a key factor in discouraging violence and also in providing escape routes. Encouraging such independence would be of significant assistance.
- A Fund to support women who have come out of abusive situations would be helpful. Concerted efforts need to be made in that direction.
- Resources such as The Red Diary should be made more widely available using online platforms, including social media.
CHELD looks forwards to implementing many of these key points, including working towards establishing a Fund in the coming year. CHELD has already made The Red Diary freely available on its Domestic Violence Resource Centre: http://domesticviolence.com.ng/the-red-diary/ and has also published an infographic with a breakdown of the survival tips online: … The Infographic has been translated from the English to Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba versions. These are currently being circulated online.
We welcome all assistance towards spreading The Red Diary throughout Nigeria. To make a financial contribution towards this, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or call us on +234-8103235860. Also share The Red Diary and the accompanying infographic widely with your network via social media and email.
This edition of CHELD’s Conversations on Domestic Violence™ was sponsored in part by Ginger Tapas, Bar and Grill, a lovely restaurant serving Spanish and Nigerian foods. The Lagos State Office of the Public Defender provided several materials and resources, including a simplified breakdown of the Lagos State Protection against Domestic Violence law.
Dr Cheluchi Onyemelukwe,
Founder/Executive Director, CHELD