There are insufficient data on domestic violence in Nigeria. This is primarily due to the stigma and silence surrounding this issue. While there is not as much research as there should ideally be on such a serious social and public health issue due to the fear, shame and silence surrounding domestic violence as well as limited funding to engage in the requisite research, there are clear data generated by reputable organisations. Recently, the United Kingdom aid agency, DFID, and the British Council, developed a report – Gender in Nigeria, 2012, which contains some of the more recent figures on aspects of domestic violence in the country.
However, the most extensive data available are contained in the National Demographic and Health Survey in 2008. That study showed that domestic violence cuts across all socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. 28 per cent of all women, almost a third of all women in Nigeria, have experienced physical violence, a significant number in a country of almost 160 million, where almost half are women.
Up to 43 per cent of women thought that wife beating could be justified on the grounds of matters like
- burning the food;
- arguing with the husband;
- going out without asking permission;
- neglecting the children; and
- refusal to have sexual intercourse.
The research showed that women in the North East were more likely to say that wife beating was justified, while women in the South West were least likely to say that wife beating was justified. Women with no education were more likely to say that wife beating was justified. Rural men were more likely to say that wife beating on any of the above-mentioned grounds was justified. Men with a secondary education were less likely to justify wife beating than men with less education.
That study further showed that educated women were more likely to have experienced domestic violence. Further women who live in urban areas are more likely than their counterparts who live in rural areas to have experienced domestic violence. Women in the southern part of the country were also more likely to have experienced physical violence more than women in the northern part of the country.
The Gender in Nigeria, 2012 report also indicated that young women between the ages of 15 and 24, were most likely to have experienced physical violence. They were also most likely to justify violence, including wife beating.
These figures give much cause for concern. The CHELD Domestic Media Alert, a collation of extreme domestic violence cases reported in the news every month, bear out these figures.
In essence, there are significantly high numbers of women experiencing domestic violence. A significant number of young women, including the unmarried, believe that there are justifications for domestic violence.
For more data on domestic violence in Nigeria, please visit:
Data from the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey http://www.measuredhs.com/pubs/pdf/GF15/GF15.pdf
Full length version of the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey, 2008:
National Population Commission (NPC) [Nigeria] and ICF Macro. 2009. Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey2008. Abuja, Nigeria (2009). http://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PNADQ923.pdf