Feature

Marriage made in hell

Domestic violence triggers cardiovasculardiseases, premature mortality –Psychologists

Most ministers of God liable for couples’death –Rev. Akwudinor

“Marriage, to women as to men, must be a luxury, not a necessity; an incident of life, not all of it. And the only possible way to accomplish this great change is to accord equal respect to both in the making, shaping, and controlling of the circumstances of life,” –Anonymous

Prologue
Marriage in Nigeria, in most cases, is not pleasurable. This has led many to often describe it as “hell” on earth, with some couples enduring and suffering the excesses of their partners in silence. At present, no day passes without screaming headlines of the news media of some mindboggling tales of domestic violence in and around the country. It is almost becoming an everyday occurrence nowadays. The headlines that dot the Nigerian media space these days are as horrific as they are nauseating. They are stories of men killing their wives, or wives killing their husbands. Sometimes, it is about a father or mother killing his or her child. Children are also not left out; killing their parents is increasingly becoming a pass time. However, domestic violence is more prevalent among women and girls in Nigeria. It is synonymous with close partner violence, family violence, beating, home abuse or spousal abuse. More complicating is the reality that the social context of violence against women in Nigeria is related to traditional African patriarchal societies, which defines the gendered power structure. Traditionally, in Nigeria, as in many other African countries, the beating of wives and children is widely sanctioned as a form of discipline. Consequently, by beating their children, parents believe that they are instilling discipline in them, much the same way as husbands beat their wives, who are also regarded as children and as such prone to indiscipline. The society is basically patriarchal, and women’s place within the scheme is absolutely subordinate. But, women, the world over, are described as homemakers, custodians of social, cultural and fundamental values of the society. In Nigeria, however, many of them are violently treated by their intimate partners. While some take the form of physical abuse, others are sexual, psychological or arbitrary deprivation of liberty. In extreme cases, those in this “hell” often suffer in silence, and could be sent to their untimely grave. This, indeed, has somehow turned many into endangered species. Matrimony, which is ordained by God, is adored by humans as the oldest institution on earth. Yet, to some, it has remained an albatross that has permanently reshaped their world view. But, is marriage worth dying for? Isioma Madike reports.

Anger and emotional-spousal abuse is a two way traffic. Reason, the majority of marriages have degenerated into humiliation. In many cases, a promised love would suddenly take flight and be replaced by hate and violence. But, many believe one should have the courage to walk out, if it gets toxic to preserve one’s well-being and safety. This was the puzzle a couple of days ago that returned Abuja, the seat of power, in the news, though for the wrong reason. Nigerians are now wondering how a man, who, during courtship promised to cherish and take care of his woman, could later turn her tormentor. And they asked: “Is it not strange that a man could hit a woman so violently as to maim, or even send her to an untimely grave?” This was the question on the lips of many following the sudden death of popular Nigerian gospel singer, Osinachi Nwachukwu, last week.

She was pronounced dead penultimate Friday night in an undisclosed hospital in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. While some earlier reports claimed that Osinachi died of throat cancer, others, though in the minority, pointed to cardiac arrest. However, social media, since then, has been flooded with different versions of how the singer suffered domestic violence with her husband prior to her death.

Following her death, several Nigerians have commented on how the deceased’s husband always abused her and had revealed details of how her marriage was “hell” on earth. Meanwhile, officers of the Abuja Police Command have reportedly arrested Peter, the husband of the late singer. According to the Police Public Relations Officer of the Federal Capital Territory, DSP Josephine Adeh, the suspected killer of the popular singer is currently in custody.

She said: “The man, Peter Nwachukwu is currently in our custody. A family member of the deceased lodged a report for culpable homicide at Lugbe Police station. Following the complaint, we arrested the suspect and the investigation is currently ongoing. We will make the findings public.” A source close to the deceased’s family, who spoke to Daily Post on condition of anonymity, had confirmed that Osinachi was indeed a victim of domestic violence. According to the source, “it is painful that despite advice, this good woman, who was obviously a gift to the world, chose to die in that marriage. Everyone that knows her is aware that she had been going through deep pains. “Behind that smile you always see on the altar when she is ministering and in her videos, were deep sorrows due to this marriage. As a music minister, she was scared of what the world would say and she trusted God until her death.

I told her to leave this marriage but she believed all will be well. “The husband never supported her music career, she strived and with the help of God and her pastor, she became known everywhere. This should serve as a warning signal to all other women going through hell and refusing to open up.”

Osinachi’s elder sister, who is the first daughter of the family, and was identified as Ms Favor Made, also confirmed to Vanguard on Sunday that Osinachi died as a result of a cluster of blood in the chest from the kicking she got from her husband. She went on to reveal that her sister, whose worship music had impacted lives across the continent and beyond, died on a live support after the last fight with her husband.

“The husband is nothing but a beast. He kept abusing this woman every time. When you don’t see her (Osinachi) in church, just know that something must have gone wrong. The last beating was a kick on her chest, which landed her in the hospital. She was on life support for five days before she finally died,” Made further revealed. Meanwhile, Pastor Enenche, of Dunamis International Gospel Centre, Abuja, whose name has been dragged on social media for allegedly failing to advice Osinachi, a music minister in the church, to leave her marriage following the violence, has kept mum on the incident, until Monday morning, when he posted a video on his verified Facebook page where he was captured advising youths to avoid partners with indication of violence.

Enenche, who also advised spinsters to be conscious of warning signals when in courtship to avoid domestic violence,said: “That man that can slap you during courtship can kill you in marriage.” As more Nigerians continue to react to the death of Osinachi, the Senior Pastor of the Revival Assembly Church, Lagos, Anselm Madubuko, shared his view over her untimely death. The pastor emphatically said that religion killed the singer. Taking to his official Facebook page on Monday April 11, Pastor Madubuko also predicted more separations and divorces among couples.

“Coming soon. Separations and Divorces…Brace up guys. So help us dear Lord!” he added. Founder of rescue church international, Abuja, Rev. Emmanuel Akwudiunor, also told Saturday Telegraph that some ministers of God are the genesis of some of these problems of couples dying in marriages by constantly quoting Malachi 2.16, which states that God hates devoice.

He said that some churches rely so much on that text to support the prohibition of devoice. He said: “There’s no doubt that reactions of some ministers are the genesis of some of these problems of couples dying in marriages. So many pastors quote ‘God hates devoice Mal. 2:16.’ Hence, as far as some churches and ministers are concerned, the text is the hardest biblical passage in support of prohibition of divorce.

“So many people are afraid of losing their positions in the church when they divorce for whatever reason, and so many churches don’t value a divorcee, they see you like an outcast and that’s one of the reasons some don’t confide in their pastors when there are going through such, like the case of Osinachi, she would have lost so many ministration invitations, she was probably scared of her musical career.

“Now, so many pastors don’t know the meaning of separation and divorce. If a marriage is not working and you have to save a life, separate them for a while, that doesn’t mean divorce, if they don’t change, then let them remain separated for their lives are more important.” Akwudiunor did not stop there. He added: “The bible says, in the Malachi 2:16, God hates devoice. But God also hates so many things including ignorance, beating of spouses, and seeing death and refusing to run.

When a husband tells you, I will kill you, God expects you to run; God does not like foolish people. He hates husbands killing wives. “Matt 19:9 gives us reason to divorce, do not divorce unless for the purpose of Adultery. Adultery is far better than a killer; you only need to give her divorce certificate and move on. Proverbs 18:22 also says, who finds a wife, finds a good thing, and obtains favour of the Lord, not who finds a beast.

So many people do not know that ‘for better for worse’ is not in the Bible. It’s a doctrine of men.” In his contribution, Venerable (Dr.) Paul Dajur, an Anglican priest, has advocated for the creation of a ministry for people who are divorced in the church. He told TheNewsGuru.com (TNG) that he does not subscribe to stigmatising those who have suffered divorce or are experiencing turbulence in their marriage and family. He had said: “Marriage is ordained by God between male and female.

Marriage is good. Do not allow the weakness of human beings to make you hate what God ordained as good. Do not rush into a relationship and marriage based on the judgement of your emotions. Seek counsel and do a proper background check. “Watch and pray – ‘shine your eye well.’ Pray as if background checks do not matter; and balance with background checks as if prayer does not matter. The two must work together. Domestic violence is a sin against God and against your spouse. Don’t contemplate violence and do not act violently against your spouse or any other person for that matter.

“In the event of abuse, do not be silent. Depending on the degree of abuse, speak up to the relevant authorities over your life – parents, church, disciples, police and other law enforcement agencies. If the degree of abuse is threatening, evacuate yourself from the place of abuse, and seek godly counseling. Do not seek for divorce until the necessary grounds as permitted by the Holy Scriptures are fulfilled. Remember, God hates divorce; and He also hates abuse.

“The church should not stigmatise those who have suffered divorce or are experiencing turbulence in their marriage and family. There should be a ministry towards church members in such conditions. God is merciful; do not reduce the extent of his mercy.

Prayerfully commit them to God for healing and help in life. Be available as a shoulder to those who are undergoing abuse and do not treat their experience with levity. Let them see you empathizing with them and not just making speeches.” To social psychologists, Domestic violence refers to aggression that has extreme physical harm, such as injury or death, as its goal. Thus, to them, violence is a subset of aggression. In this regard, a psychologist, Dr. Ifeanyi Obia, stated that domestic violence occurs when a person consistently aims to control their partner through physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.

“The consequences of domestic violence include increased incidences of depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, and suicide. It can also trigger increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and premature mortality,” he added. Dr. Peter Ogunubi, a consultant Psychiatrist, also said that the escalating domestic fracas leading to avoidable deaths could be partly blamed on economic challenges in the country as well as the state of mind of the individuals concerned.

“What we are seeing these days was not totally alien in the years gone by. Although people have become more desperate these days going through many stress-induced conditions that affect their behaviour. With the level of poverty in the land, a good number of families are leaving in frustration. As a result, they spend quality time hobnobbing with some worthless fellows, and before long, they begin to manifest some phony traits.

“Some, who equally are driven by sheer envy of their working wives, try to employ undue brute force to assert their headship in the home. And because they are financially incapable of meeting the family needs, they begin to suspect their wives, who struggle to do so. At the end, it activates premature mortality,” he said.

The Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Muyiwa Adejobi, has, however, urged people to always report to the Police whenever they are in a situation of domestic violence. He told Saturday Telegraph that the Police have intelligent officers, who will attend to them on cases of domestic violence.

“We also want people to speak up and not die in silence. It was unfortunate, we lost Osinachi but we are doing everything humanly possible to get justice for her. Her matter is being handled by the Homicide Department of the Federal Capital Territory Police Command. We don’t want to jump into conclusion on the matter.

We are conducting a scientific investigation; we are also conducting an autopsy and CT scan on her corpse, we have the husband in our custody,” he added. However, before the Osinachi incident, a tragic drama had unfolded in Ago Palace Way in the Okota area of Lagos State. In what could be likened to an unbelievable horror movie, residents of the neighbourhood woke up to the gory sight of a lady identified simply as Mercy, who allegedly had been burnt by her husband, Henry.

The 36-year-old Mercy got a hellish baptism from the one she swore to love and live with till “death do them part.” Incidentally, domestic violence is not a preserve against women alone. Men have been known to suffer equal fate in some circumstances. There was a case of one 31-year-old Police officer, who allegedly had an argument about a house issue with his wife. The argument seemed normal like those by any married couple and the man later left for work. He had a night shift so he came back home the day after at 05:30 am and went straight to bed to have some sleep.

That was the moment his wife chose to act. She allegedly poured acid solution on his face and ran away. The man screamed so loud for help before his neighbours came and found him in his despair. They rushed him to hospital and luckily his life was saved, but not his eyes, as he became permanently blind afterwards.

These are a few incidences of where domestic violence was taken to the extreme. Reacting to these behaviours, Executive Director, Project Alert on Violence Against Women, Dr. Josephine Effah-Chukwuma, said members of the public, particularly women, should learn from Osinachi’s experience.

Effah-Chukwuma told this reporter that domestic violence should never be tolerated. She noted that Osinachi ought to have reported her husband to the Police, or should have left the marriage when her husband did not change. She said: “Osinachi had allegedly been suffering at the hands of her husband for a long time before the incident, and had she left the marriage, this wouldn’t have happened and she would have been alive today.” Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, president of Women Arise, a non-government organisation, has also blamed the upsurge in domestic violence to what she calls ego problem.

“If the man, who is considered the breadwinner, is unable to make money available for the family food, the woman starts nagging. Often, she complains in the presence of their children, letting them feel their father has failed in his duty and therefore, is useless. “These breeds’ quarrels, which degenerate to fighting; swearing and cursing, become the order of the day. With this, a poor emotional mental environment is created.

The couples may now just be co-habiting and not really living as a family. Love is lost and respect is lost for one another. At this point, anything is possible,” she said. Some lawyers have equally decried the growing trend of domestic violence in the Nigerian society.

For instance, a Lagos-based lawyer and rights activist, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, told this reporter that domestic violence has reached an alarming level in the country. She called on various stakeholders to join forces to arrest the ugly trend. According to her, domestic violence, under whatever guise, is a crime that has to be tackled head-on. Another lawyer, Mike Dugeri, said a combination of factors have led to the perpetuation of domestic violence in the society.

“It is perceived as a family issue, and some women have come to accept it as part of family life, and would rather prefer to keep mute,” he said. Increasingly, the menace of domestic violence is fast being entrenched in the Nigerian society and has led to the sudden death of many across the country. Today, many have died, others brutalised or maimed for life by their violent partners. There are also those, who kill themselves to exit violent relationships, or die dejectedly in their attempt to avoid violent spouses. In these circumstances, the Nigerian Police are being confronted with the challenge of resolving the riddles arising from killing of one’s spouse or children.

In like manner, magistrate courts are daily being inundated by divorce cases also. This has caused marriages to be failing at an alarming rate. However, there are people, who believe that some of the deviant behaviours resulting in domestic violence are traceable to drugs and alcoholism.

“When a person, it could be a man or woman, is now doing drugs, he or she becomes a danger to those around him or her. Those who abuse alcohol, narcotics, morphine, heroin or stimulants such as cocaine, marijuana among others are capable of causing harm to other people under the influence of such substances. “In Nigeria, many people easily get hooked to some of these drugs as a result of peer influence, particularly through constant association with bad people,” a senior retired Police officer, who does not want his name in print, said.

 

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