Physical Abuse Of Women In The Home Criminology Essay

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The role of women in the development of any country cannot be overemphasized. Women play significant roles in the upbringing of children and in the maintenance of family harmony. Violence perpetrated on women in the home and outside the home has adverse effects on individuals within the family and society in general both in emotional and physical wellbeing. Sexual abuse is a significant aspect of domestic violence. If unchecked, the goal of having a healthy and balanced society is deeply threatened. Variables and factors which occur in varying proportions act as catalysts in determining or influencing human behaviour and actions in general and human behaviour in the home in particular. In examining physical and sexual abuse of women in the home, concepts and definitions are explored. In addition to the review of relevant literature, which would cover both international and Nigerian studies, this article examines perspectives and theories that seek to explain this social problem and crime as applicable. These perspectives have been grouped into the following - historical (to identify the origins of domestic violence); psychological which includes psychiatric approaches (concentrating on the individual offender and victim); sociological or socio-cultural (emphasis on institutions, structures, socialization, subculture of violence; and economic explanations. Feminist perspectives are incorporated in these explanations. Through the use of interviews, current opinions of stakeholders on this subject (legal practitioners, interest groups and the police) with regard to the Nigeria experience are discussed. Finally, possible remedies and treatment of the abused, and batterer shall be discussed.

THE CONCEPT OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

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The physical abuse of women in the home falls under the umbrella of domestic violence. However, in any relationship or family, the physical dwelling or home is a residential unit, abuse can occur in any location. On domestic violence, according to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (2012):

Domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse, spousal abuse, battering,

family violence, and intimate partner violence (IPV), is a pattern of behavior

which involves the abuse by one partner against another in an intimate relationship

such as marriage, cohabitation, dating or within the family. Domestic violence

can take many forms, including physical aggression or assault (hitting, kicking,

biting, shoving, restraining, slapping, throwing objects, battery), or threats thereof;

sexual abuse; emotional abuse; controlling or domineering; intimidation;

stalking; passive/covert abuse (e.g., neglect); and economic deprivation.

The focus of this article is mainly the female victim in the home. Other victims of abuse within the home include children, males or husbands, the elderly and domestic helps. Violence against children and women get reported to authourities more often than those associated with males. Domestic violence against a male victim is difficult to determine, as the male victim is usually reluctant to get help or report incidents for a variety of reasons such a negative response and attitude from law enforcement agencies, including the notion that there appears to be a high degree of acceptance of aggression against men by women (Wikipedia, 2012).

What is physical and sexual abuse?

Domestic violence covers physical and sexual violations for which there are provisions in the statute books for offences associated with it. Other forms of domestic violence such as child abuse and the abuse of the elderly are not part of the subject for discussion in this article, though relevant examples from other victims of abuse in the home shall be highlighted. In this paper, attention is on the physical and sexual abuse of women or the wife.

The Real Life Dictionary of Law (Hill and Hill, 1995) defined the following concepts and offences: Domestic violence - The continuing crime and problem of the physical beating of a wife, girlfriend or children, usually by the woman's male partner (although it can be female violence against a male); Assault - the threat or attempt to strike another, whether successful or not, provided the target is aware of the danger; and Battery - the actual intentional striking of someone, with intent to harm, or in a rude and insolent manner even if the injury is slight…It is often coupled with assault (which does not require actual touching).

A form of domestic violence on women in the home is sexual abuse. Sexual violations or offences can be categorized into buggery, indecent assault, indecency between males, rape, unlawful intercourse with a girl under 13 and under 16 years, incest, procreation, abduction, bigamy, soliciting by a man, and gross indecency with a child (Hanmer and Saunders, 1984). In a Dictionary of Law, "A husband can be convicted for raping his wife, and a boy under the age of 14 can be guilty of rape. The maximum penalty for rape or attempted rape is life imprisonment, but this is rarely imposed…" (Martin, (ed.), 1994). In England and Wales, the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 (amended), defines rape as forced penile penetration of the victim's vagina or anus by a male where the female is not consenting. This definition now includes sexual acts such as anal intercourse, oral sex, or penetration of the vagina by other objects (Painter and Farrington, 1997).

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Other forms of violence within the domestic domain honor killings, acid attacks and dowry violence. According to Wikipedia the free encyclopedia, (2012) an honor killing "is the homicide of a member of a family or social group by other members, due to the belief of the perpetrators that the victim has brought dishonor upon the family or community." It is also noted that dishonour could include refusing to enter into an arranged marriage or the woman committing adultery. Also, another form is dowry violence and bride burning, which is known to occur in places such as South Asia, and bride burning is a form of the man or husband's discontent over the dowry provided by her family. It is said to be a problem in countries such as India.

Another form of violence or abuse against women which has also been occurring in Nigeria involves the use of acids or corrosive chemicals. Acid bathe is the pouring of corrosive substance on someone. According to Eze-Anaba, (2007) this could cause permanent disfigurement of the victims, and unfortunately acids are readily available on the streets for purchase. She noted that acid baths first gained public attention in 1990 when a former beauty queen was attacked by her boyfriend because she refused to renew their relationship. Acid attack or vitriolage could occur out of jealousy or revenge, and the acid is usually thrown on the face, with long term effects such as blindness and permanent scarring of the face and body (Wikipedia, 2012). Certain countries with reports of such attacks include Pakistan, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and India.

LITERATURE AND RESEARCH ON THE ABUSE OF WOMEN IN THE HOME

A number of studies have been carried out on the abuse of women in the home. These studies include that of the effects of domestic violence or wife abuse on the family in general and the woman in particular. Some research has also been carried out on possible remedies and treatment for the victims and the offenders. Historically, prior to the mid-1800s, most legal systems accepted wife beating as a valid exercise of a husband's authority over his wife. Later, political agitation during the nineteenth century led changes in countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States. For instance, in 1850, Tennessee became the first state in the United States to explicitly outlaw wife beating. Women's movement of the1970s especially as it concerned feminism and women's rights gained a lot of attention.

In England and Wales for the years 1885-1905, out of 497 murders committed by men, 124 were women murdered by their husbands, 115 were mistresses or lovers of their assailants and over 50% of all murdered victims were women with long relationships with the male murderer (MacDonald, 1911). The work of Wolfgang (1958) in Philadelphia revealed that during the 1950s the number of wives assaulted by their husbands constituted 41% of all women who were killed. In his study, only 10% of the murder cases were committed by wives. Wolfgang (1958) concluded that the home was the most frequent setting for severe violence. In another study, Dobash and Dobash (1979) revealed that 109 women interviewed reported 32,000 assaults during their marriages, but only 517 of these assaults (less than 2%) were reported to the police. They discovered that women rarely reported to friends, neighbours, doctors and social workers because of their expectation that the violent acts would soon discontinue, the anticipated family shame, and desire to save the marriage especially because of the children. Other reasons include anticipated financial difficulty and psychological pressure in divorce proceedings.

The national Survey of Wives in Great Britain carried out to determine the prevalence of violence by husbands and rape of wives in and outside marriage revealed that out of a quota sample of 1,007 wives, 228% of wives had been hit by their husbands, while 13% of them had sexual intercourse with their husbands against their will. Lower class wives and separated or divorced wives were likely to have been assaulted. In total, 22% of wives had been raped inside or outside marriage (Painter and Farrington, 1997). Further, based on 19,301,000 ever married women in Great Britain aged 18-54 in 1991 (Office of National Statistics, 1997), it was estimated that between 2,483,000 and 3,162,000 women have been hit by their husbands. Also, between 1,761,000 and 2,379,000 women have been threatened by their husbands, and between 2,936,000 and 3,657,000 have been hit or threatened by their husbands (Painter and Farrington, 1997). On rape, it was analysed that one in seven British wives had been raped, and nearly all the raped wives (94.4%) were raped by their husbands when they lived together and on different occasions (painter and Farrington, 1997).

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A study in Papua New Guinea in 1982 revealed tht in the 19 villages sampled, 67% of rural wives had been hit by either their husbands and 66% of rural husbands accepted that they had hit their wives. Marital rape was said to be very common and is allowed by law (Bradley, 1994). In Brazil, reports gathered from the women's Delegacias (special police unit formed to address issues of domestic violence and other related cases) in a 1987 study of over 2,000 battery cases registered at the Sao Paulo delegacia from August to December 1985 revealed that over 70% of all reported crime against women occurred in the home (Thomas, 1994).

In India before the abolition of the 'Sati' rite practice in 1829 by the British, Narasimhan (1994) recounts, saying violence is not only attributed to physical battery or rape, and that culturally before 1829 in India, widows burned themselves to death on the late husband's pyre (pile of wood) to become a stati, exalted and deified. Surprisungly, in 1987 an 18 year old girl performed this rite. Furthermore, dowry deaths are common in situations where the woman commits suicide or endures whatever abuse in the home rather than have her parents 'disgraced' by returning to their home or leaving the husband. Narasimhan (1994) noted that there still exists a pervasive belief governing the social perception of women as complete servants to their husbands.

In African and Nigerian societies in particular, Eze-Anaba, (2007) observed that many of the victims do not speak out about violations of their rights because of the poor response from society. However, she noted that the situation has improved over the years through international and local policies and laws. She cites the examples of documents, the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Beijing Platform for Action at the international level. Eze-Anaba, (2007) noted that Nigeria has incorporated the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, and the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child into domestic law. The African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights has also been incorporated in Nigeria. However, she observed that Nigeria is a country where international human rights instruments have yet to be incorporated into domestic laws. According to Eze-Anaba (2007) examples of research in Nigeria include that of a survey carried out by Project Alert in 2001 - women and girls in Nigeria were asked about abuses within the family unit. This survey revealed that in a particular state, Lagos, more than half of the participants confirmed their partners, boyfriends, or husband had beaten them. Reasons for the assault included drunkenness, financial problems and refusing to have sex with the perpetrator. A good number of the participants had reported the abuse to family members, the perpetrator's family and to their religious leaders while some just endured the abuse. Interestingly there was no report of any respondent filing a complaint with the police or seeking redress in court (Eze-Anaba, 2007).

Research conducted within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja by Owonibi (2008) revealed that the mean age of respondents who have experienced domestic violence within the home was 32 years. It was also observed that incidents of domestic violence decreases with age - for instance from 41 years and above. This study highlighted that within the home, children and women are often victimized compared to males.

Awusi, Okeleke, and Anyanwu, (2009) in a study on the prevalence of domestic violence during pregnancy in the Oleh community in Nigeria observed that domestic violence against pregnant women could expose victims to higher risk of complications during pregnancy. Using a questionnaire-based, cross-sectional study, from 400 pregnant women attending the ante-natal clinic of the Central Hospital at Oleh., 92% of the women showed complete knowledge of domestic violence, and 36% had experienced domestic violence during pregnancy. Further, domestic violence experienced were verbal (58%), physical (31%) and sexual (11%) abuses. The husband was the main offender (92%), and 77% of the women would rather keep the experience of domestic violence during pregnancy secret. Awusi et al (2009) noted that domestic violence against women cuts across ages, ethnicity, religion and educational status. Also, common risk factors include low socio-economic and educational status, early marriage, alcohol and substance abuse by the partner and unemployment. They assert that the impact of domestic violence on pregnant women is increasingly being recognized as an important public health issue.

Idogo, (2011) studied the effects of domestic violence on pre-school children She noted that some empirical studies show that children growing up in violent families are vulnerable to low cognition, and are likely to engage in youth violence, adult violence tendencies, and other forms of criminality. She also observed that in Nigeria, pre - school children are tutored and raised up under the culture of violence. For instance, physically abused, punished and beaten for any misbehaviour in the home and in the classroom. Starvation is also employed as a form sanction in some families. Also children are often given adult tasks, such as going to the farm and market, and even used as guardians of younger children. Further, family violence could be transferred to the children especially from their mothers who tend to express their frustrations on their children. Thus, pre - school children regress developmentally, and exhibit various forms of behavioural disorders, such as insomnia, nightmare, anxiety and violence towards their mates.

The male perpetrator

This is difficult to come by as men do not usually file complaints officially. However, information about the male batterer usually comes from the staff and residents of shelters of battered women (Roberts, 1981). The childhood experience and other variables are not normally taken into consideration in describing the batterer (Smith, 1989). In his treatment of 42 men, Smith observed certain features of male batterers, some of which were that as children, 21% of them were physically abused, 7% were sexually abused, 45% saw their mothers abused, 93% had battered previous partners, 62% were under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, 50% were currently involved with the Criminal Justice System, and 45% have been violent with others outside the family. Batterers usually deny their violent behavior due to embarrassment, guilt and shame (Walker, 1978). Some are also known to have low self-esteem (Falk, 1977), and project their anger from previous experiences into marriage.

Societal responses to spousal abuse

The effects of wife abuse can be categorized into physical i.e. extensive injuries to death (Dobash and Dobash, 1974) and psychological like symptoms of stress, weight loss or gain (Smith, 1989). This could result to thoughts of suicide (Stanko, 1985). Gayford (1978) revealed that suicide attempts were common and often repeated by battered women in his sample. Children are also known to suffer physically (miscarriages, still birth and other injuries) and psychologically from domestic violence with boys being most affected behaviourally (Jaffe, et al. 1986 and Wolfe, et al. 1985). How society responds to domestic violence is significant for treatment and rehabilitation.

On Social Responses and Treatment, in the laws, changes have occurred in statute books in most parts of the world deliberately addressing domestic violence. For example, in Britain, The Homeless Persons Act of 1977-78 makes battered women a priority group for housing. However, Smith (1989) noted that the problems with legal remedies are in its complexity and delays in civil matters (especially in the burden of proof) unlike the criminal laws governing domestic violence. Closely associated with the law is the police who usually exercise their discretion in handling violent offences in the home in particular (Black, 1971). It was observed that the police are more likely to wave arrests of husbands for various abusive offences and the judicial responses usually neglects the same pattern in treatment and sanctions which are usually mild like fines and probation (Dobash and Dobash, 1979). The main argument being that prosecution and arrests may destroy the marriage coupled with the fact that most women do not usually press charges and testify in court. For Dobash and Dobash (1979) the system actually discourages and frustrates women with deliberately prolonged court proceedings and on the contrary, most women in their study actually followed up their case up to the final adjudication. According to Smith (1989), vigorous arrest policy would demonstrate social disapproval and might act as a deterrent to further violence.

Welfare associations formed by the government and interested groups also play important roles in counseling, provision of refuge accommodation, and assisting in pursuing complaints to a logical conclusion. Maye and Timms (1970) observed that the orientation of staff or members of a welfare association can determine which cases they think are serious since they usually lack sufficient resources for their activities. The Women's Aid Federation of England declares its objectives as follows "to eradicate and inform the public, the media, the police, the courts, the social services and other authourities with respect to the battery of women, mindful of the fact that this is a result of the general position of women in society" (Smith, 1989). Other important groups relevant to remedies are the medical practitioners who usually treat injuries of abused women. They could intervene by counseling and other necessary actions within the law. For Dobash and Dobash, a 'conspiracy of silence' often exists between doctor and patient. Family and friends are useful especially in giving emotional support to the victim.

Citing examples from the "Laws of Northern Nigeria, Criminal Code Act (1990), Cap 77" Eze-Anaba, (2007) noted that some provisions of the law, rather than protecting women from domestic violence, could encourage offenders by giving them opportunities to escape sanctions. She further stated that for instance, in Sec. 55 (1)d of the Penal Code a man is empowered to correct children, pupil, servant or wife. For Eze-Anaba (2007: 37), "since there is no law against domestic violence in Nigeria, at best a victim who seeks protection under the law will rely on the provisions of the Criminal Code on common assault. The Criminal Code considers assault on a woman as a misdemeanor while assault on a man is a felony."

Laws concerning domestic violence differ between countries. According to Wikipedia, (2012) most countries in the western world regard it as illegal, but this is not the case in some developing countries. The country Russia is cited where there is no law specifying domestic violence as a crime, even though physical violence is illegal. Another example is from the United Arab Emirates's where in 2010 a Supreme Court ruled that a man has the right to physically discipline his wife and children as long as he doesn't leave physical marks. The Encyclopedia also notes that social acceptability of domestic violence also varies between country.

Eze-Anaba, (2007) observed that impediments to legal redress by women in Nigeria include lack of access to justice as they are not aware of their rights and do not have access to institutions that can remedy violations of such rights. Illiteracy is said to be one of the reasons for this situation. The formal legal system in Nigeria is said to be exorbitant for most Nigerians and especially poor women. Also, poor law enforcement riddled with corruption and stereotypes in favour of males are problems to contend with. Further, the tripartite legal system has its issues as elucidated by Eze-Anaba (2007:55) as follows:

"The Nigerian legal system is made up of three different systems of law: the

statutory law, religious law, and customary law. Statutory laws include the

Constitution, laws made by the government, and government policies. There

are different types of religious groups in Nigeria with different laws for their

members. The common ones are Christianity, Muslim/Islamic, and traditional

religious laws. Customary laws include laws of diverse people of Nigeria,

which govern personal matters like marriage, children, and inheritance. These

three types of law are enforced by three types of courts namely the formal

courts: customary courts in Southern Nigeria and Shari' a courts in Norther

n Nigeria. In principle, statutory law takes precedence over all other laws. In

practice however, things are different. In the Northern part of the country,

the predominant religion is Islam. Statutory laws are not necessarily more

protective of women. The judicial system is male dominated and reflects

the prejudices and stereotypes of the wider society…"

THEORIES/THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK - Why are women abused in the home?

The various explanations have been categorized into the historical, psychological, socio-cultural, feminist and multi-dimensional or integrative perspectives.

From a historical perspective, studies reveal that wife abuse emanated from the enabling environment in the history of most cultures and societies which encouraged and condoned it. For Dobash and Dobash (1979), the physical abuse of women more especially wives is an expression of patriarchical (male headship of an organization or institution) domination. Since the legal, political, economic and ideological structures supported this, men used these avenues to possess, control and oppress their wives. For example, with regard to religion, the Christian account of man's creation, and the creation of the woman to meet his needs created a moral ideology that justified the subjugation of women especially in the marriage institution which provides a conducive atmosphere for the assault and physical abuse of women (Dobash and Dobash, 1979). In most traditional communities especially in Arica, women are viewed as part of the husband's asset or property. Thus, her treatment depends on his discretion. Sexual violence relates to contempt of female qualities and rape is part of the culture of male dominance (Sanday, 1979).

Akin to the emphasis on patriarchy is the feminist perspective. With regard to violence against women, this perspective draws attention to patriarchal societies that encourage patriarchal family structures that ascribes power in the home and in other areas of human endeavour to men (Power, 1988: 133). This creates the environment and opportunity for abuse and exploitation.

The psychological perspective focuses its explanation on anomalies in the personalities of the offender and victim - in this discussion these are the male batterer and the abused woman. In other words, under the psychological perspective, psychoanalytical theories focus on the individual's psychological makeup that encourages and accepts abusive behavior. Hyde-Nolan and Juliao (2012) draw attention to psychodynamic theories, one of which is the Object Relations Theory associated with character molding. According to Fairbairn (1952), this theory suggests that humans are motivated early in their childhood by the need of significant relationships with people in and out of the family unit. Thus, early relationships play a role in the individual's psychic development and consequently forms an enduring psychological "template" for future interactions and relationships (Hyde-Nolan and Juliao, 2012). They also state that first experiences usually comes from ones primary caregiver.

For Zosky (1999) initial life experiences, if positive and adequate contributes significantly to the emotional health of the individual later in life. Thus individuals that experience poor nurturing during infancy and childhood may grapple with issues such as self-esteem, poor anxiety management and the inability to regulate emotions or emotional responses in the course of their lives. According to Zosky, (1999) it has been found that somen that engaged in intimate partner violence (IPV), had inadequate nurturing in their early years of development. Dutton et al (1996) also found that parental rejection and violence in the family was highly correlated to intimate partner violence in adulthood. From another perspective, it has been argued that people 'adapt' to abusive situations having acquired the 'skills' from childhood, and this may encourage victims to remain in an abusive relationship or household in their adulthood (Blizard and Bluhn, 1994).

In sum in studies, Faulk (1974) and Gayford (1975) presented the male batterer as mentally ill, neurotic or disturbed. For Smith (1989), the focus on the pathological aspect of the abuser neglects the social, cultural and situational factors. Walkate, (1989) noted that this explanation does not bring into focus the recurring patterns of victimization since it focuses mainly on the individual in particular situations.

The sociological or socio-cultural explanation consists of other sub-perspectives such as the subculture of violence, social learning, socio-cultural, control theory, conflict and economic inequality theories. According to Goode, (1971) if force does not exist, the structure of the family will be destroyed and the family like other social institutions requires or depends on force or its threat for its control. Husbands are most likely to use such force. Strauss (1973 and 1976) laid emphasis on 'deviant authourity cultures' as the source of violence in homes as likely reaction when the wife is dominant in decision making. Smith (1989) using socio-cultural analysis explains violence in the home as a response to frustration, stress and blocked goals like in relative poverty, unemployment and poor working conditions.

Hence, control theorists argue that the need to obtain power and control within the family or within relationships is a source of conflict. Hence, the threat of force is a common tool used against weaker members of the family such as women, children and the elderly. Thus in an attempt to secure and maintain control, the abuser may adopt methods such as intimidation, coercion, isolation, denial of personal responsibility or blame and economic abuse. Resorting to violence as a result of loss of control could occur as result of the influence of substances - for example alcohol causes people to lose control, in addition to the inability to control anger and frustration. In turn, the abused or victim in an attempt to survive modify their behavior to suit their abuser (Bostock, et al 2002). This can also be referred to as "learned helplessness" the outcome of repeated abuse, which eventually prevents the victim from resisting the violence or leaving the relationship.

On the subculture of violence, Wolfgang and Feracuti (1967) view violence as the outcome of a socialization process or subcultural patterns existing in certain societal groups. For Levi (1994), this theory does not adequately explain the origin of the subculture in the first place. However, Box (1994) argued that the existence of a 'culture of masculinity' and within that, a 'subculture of violence' creates these abuses of women as within our culture to be a real man is to be strong, powerful, independent, being able to always overcome resistance, and other attributes often measured by the number of sexual conquests.

In socio-learning theory, social theories give attention to the learning process of abusive and violent behavior and how they are transferred to members of the family or group as the case may be. Closely associated with social learning theories are the cognitive behavior explanations that focus on the learning and transfer of abusive, violent and aggressive behavior between individuals. According to Capell and Heiner, (1990) research has found that young adults who witnessed and experienced domestic violence as children are more likely to be in an intimate relationship as either an abuser or victim.

It is believed that criminal behavior is learned and the use of violence is a learnrd response from the company of others, gangs, groups or police enforcement techniques (Sutherland and Cressey, 1966). For Bandura (1973), aggression is learned through imitation (modeling) and sustained through reinforcements during the individual's life. Other socio-learning theorists are Schultz (1960), Snell, Rosenwald and Robey (1964). These proponents believe that he source of violence is a s a result of unfulfilled childhood experiences and deviant marital relationships (Dobash and Dobash, 1979).

Studies that have focused on children suggest that experiences throughout life influence an individuals' propensity to engage in family violence (either as a victim or as a perpetrator) (Wikipedia, 2012). Thus, researchers have identified childhood socialization, previous experiences in couple relationships during adolescence, and levels of strain in a person's current life are likely explanations for domestic violence. Thus domestic violence is a learned behavior through observation, experience and reinforcement. It can be learned in cultures, within families and in communities, such as schools, peer groups and workplaces.

Hyde-Nolan and Juliao (2012) drew attention to the Violence as Trauma Theory, which argues how the victim of abuse process their traumatic experience in life can have an impact in their behavior and how the cope with similar traumatic events. Hence, the victim processes his or her abusive experience as a traumatic event similar to the responses of individuals who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (Putnam, 1989). Thus, the abused emotionally reenact the trauma by associating themselves with people who will continue to abuse them. This process of 'repeating' the abuse or trauma is said to enable the victim re-enact and 'displace' the abusive experience (Burgess et al, 1990).

The economic explanation regards violence or abuse against women as a result of economic problems (O'Brien, 1971), were the husband is of lower economic status, which could lead to various forms of conflict. On the other hand, Hanmer and Saunders (1984) say economic dependence on the wages of men is a likely source and cause of domestic violence. the control of all forms of resources in society can empower the abuser (e.g. money and influence) - all this can be explained under the umbrella of the Resource Theory (Hyde-Nolan and Juliao, 2012). Goode (1971) noted that there is a relationship between wealth and violence. For example, men with wealth and high social standing have access to resources with which they use to control their wives' behavior with or without violence (for e.g. manipulating the criminal justice system and engaging specific support networks). On the contrary, men with limited resources may resort to physical force or violence as preferred alternatives to resolving economic and other related issues (Anderson, 1997). Wallace (2002) noted that economic dependency may be the reason that explains why many women stay in abusive marriages.

Closely associated with the economic perspective is the dependency explanation. It is important to note that dependency does not necessarily have to be economic. Dependency relations theory is based on the concept that the victims of abuse are dependent on their abusers (though not in all situations) (Hyde-Nolan and Juliao, 2012). They state that this form of abuse is common among abusers of children, spouses and the elderly (Finkelhor and Dziuba-Leatherman, 1994). Children are small and weak, the elderly are frail and weak, hence they are reliant on other people who could abuse them.

The feminist critics express concern that the focus on social stratification evades the major issues about crime committed by men on women (Levi, 1994). Levi (1994) noted that police classification of homicides by motive does not take into account the history of the relationship. Dobash and Dobash (1979) and Smith (1989) see the core of feminist explanations as in the view that domestic violence is a reflection of unequal power relationships as in violence in general. For Painter and Farrington (1997) two decades have conceptualized and explained the extensive and repeated violence against women as a product of patriarchal social relationships based on power, domination and a distorted concept of masculinity.

Member states including Nigeria of the United Nations have committed to pursue an action agenda geared towards sustainable human development with a view to achieving social and economic progress by the target year of 2015. Abama and Kwaja (2009) noted that violence against women is a major threat to social and economic development, and that this informed the Millennium Declaration of September 2000, in which the General Assembly of the United Nations resolved "to combat all forms of violence against women and to implement the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women" (United Nations, 2005:12). They also assert that violence against women is closely associated with varied social conditions such as poverty, inadequate education, gender inequality, child mortality, maternal ill-health and human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS). For instance, they noted that in Nigeria cultural institutions, particularly religion, are often cited for their role in violence against women, and Nigerian women also confront a male dominated power structure that upholds and entrenches male authority in the home. Also, customs such as the payment of "bride price" portrays the impression of 'purchase' and 'ownership.' Widow inheritance is another avenue for sexual exploitation and violence. Polygamous marriages are characterized by unprotected sex, with multiple partners. Abama and Kwaja (2009) argued that men use domestic violence to diminish women's autonomy and sense of self-worth, and this is sometimes enhanced by the lack of prosecution of offenders by the criminal justice system.

Finally, with the existence of spousal abuse, the quests for solutions have obviously attracted attention. While this issue is addressed in the discussion and conclusion of this article, in Nigeria some suggestions that have been made include that of Abama and Kwaja, (2009: 26). The international community, to be precise 191 Member States of the United Nations committed to pursue strategies and programmes that are geared towards sustainable human development being the key to fulfilling social and economic progress with a target date of 2015. Abama and Kwaja, (2009) adopted the agenda of the Milleneumm Development Goals (MDGs) and their targets which they believe afford many options for addressing violence against women. They also noted that though the connections between domestic violence and the MDG goals are not always explicit, they are relevant as a starting point and methodology for addressing domestic violence. For example:

MDG 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger - through poverty reduction efforts aimed at women. If women are empowered, are able to earn income to maintain themselves and their families, avenues for spousal abuse will be reduced or eliminated.

MDG 2: Achieve universal primary education - removing gender based impediments to education. An educated or enlightened woman is in a better position to protect herself, and also pursue other endeavours.

MDG 3: Promote gender equality and empower women - ensuring an enabling environment for this to succeed. This implies addressing impediments associated with culture and religion for instance.

MDG 4: Reduce child mortality and MDG 5: Improve maternal health - this requires addressing the well-being of all women. Could eliminate emotional and financial frustrations associated with the provision of health care.

MDG 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases - this highlights the fact that violence against women undermines HIV prevention and care efforts. This would address cases of husbands with multiple partners infecting their wives, would also address stigma and other related HIV issues.

MDG 7: Ensure environmental sustainability - this can empower and protect women in both rural and urban settings. This would help create a healthy relationship within the home and community.

MDG 8: Develop a global partnership for development - through policy and physical, financial, and logistics support and intervention. Supporting counseling, legal aid, work with agents of the criminal justice system and other structures that can alleviate the plight of an abused woman.

To sum up, the multi-dimensional approach addresses the issue of the abuse of women in the home from all relevant perspectives taking into consideration peculiar circumstances and situations. Dobash and Dobash (1979) have argued that an integrated analysis of social phenomena is required in understanding domestic violence. This means going beyond the husband and wife and examining their socialization in its historical and contemporary setting. For instance, in the systems approach, Giles-Sims (1983) argued that the family system requires fundamental restructuring, but noted that the established systems of behavior must be well understood. The role of power and control by the abusers feature predominantly in the theories or explanation for the abuse of women in the home. The dynamics of family attachment, control and power can be productive. According to Sherman, (1992) research has shown that men who place high value on attachments to their home, work or career, and community, may view the threat of arrests or sanctions for spousal abuse as an important deterrent from engaging in such behaviour.

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY AND FINDINGS

In addition to secondary data such as previous research and literature on the abuse of women in the home or in a broader sense, domestic violence, the writer conducted interviews with relevant individuals and institutions associated with domestic violence in the Karu area of Abuja, Fedral Capital Territory FCT and Keffi town in Nasararwa State, both in Nigeria. While Abuja can be regarded as a 'cosmopolitan' city with a population of about ………., Keffi is more of a traditional town with a population of about……… Like in most towns and cities in Nigeria, the populations are relatively multicultural or multiethnic. With regard to spousal abuse in the home in particular, and domestic violence in general, in Nigeria issues and problems are regarded as private family matters. Hence, the apparent reluctance of people especially victims to talk about it, and the extremely high number of unreported incidents. One can comfortably say the 'dark figure' of domestic violence in Nigeria is significantly high. More so, this research revealed that from the police stations visited, the first reaction of police officers when an indivual comes to reort any domestic related issue is to attempt to settle the matter 'informally' in order not to disrupt the 'family.' Welfare officers who are associated with domestic issues are available in the police stations. In addition, such complaints are not recorded. Only life threatening cases or fatalities are recorded if they have occurred. The attitude and facilities to document all reported incidents are lacking in the police stations. Only 'serious' matters are given priority. This invariably, would impact negatively on recorded crimes.

First, interviews with the police revealed that reported cases of domestic violence are are few. About 10 to 20 cases are reported annually, with death or deaths occurring about once in two years (i.e. with regard to the abuse of women in the home). The explanation for this is cultural. Some husbands threaten and have actually divorced their wives for reorting them to the police. For the husbands, this is an unforgivable 'offence.' Thus wives and partners come to the police as a last resort and would rather tolerate the relationship. However, officers interviewed noted that from the few cases encountered, the individuals concerned were from the high socio-econmic starta or educated people of the society. For example senior civil servants. The explanation for this is that the women and on a few occasions, the men concerned, intend to pursue the matter in court with a view of getting compensation or seeking for divorce. Though mos of the cases are civil in nature, the police note that, if it is a criminal case involving assault with grievious bodily harm or death, and a victim of domestic violence insists on pursuing the matter and disregarding the mediating role of the police, they would charge the matter to court, and carry out all preliminary investigations. One strategy often used is to detain the husband (if he is the aggressor) for a few days to allow tempers to calm down and to teach him some lessons. The police attribute incidents of spousal abuse or wife battering on issues such as the husband not returninf home on time and when confronted by the wife becomes aggressive. Another reason could be if the wife is the bread winner of the family, and the man is jealous and antagonistic. Third, especially for first time parents, is that the man is inexperienced in dealing with the mood swings by the woman and other issues associated with pregnancy. Polygamous homes are said to have more incidents of spousal abuse, and not keeping up with conjugal obligations creates rifts and fights. Incidents have occurred were the husband begins sexuall relations with the house maid and sometimes the wife engaging in sexual relations with younger male domestic servants and neighbours. While the police officers interviewed are unanimous on the need for stipper sanctions for offenders, they believe that criminalizing all forms of spusal abus and domestic violence in general may lead to increased rates of divorce and family separations.

Interviews conducted at the magistrate courts revealed that cases of spousal abuse are few and range between three to ten cases a year. However, they do see divorce cases. They noted that since victims do not report to the police, the police refer few cases to the courts. They also agree that the few victims and offenders they have dealt with are educated people. A possible explanation for this is that they are the ones that can afford to follow through the legal process. It is an aspect of traditional culture to settle family disputes out of court. Typically, conviction for common assaults carries a minmum of three thousand naira (3,000) to six months imprisonment. In grievious bodily harm cases and murder there are much stiffer penalties. Generally, most domestic violence cases are tried in a civil court.

At the National Centre for Woman Development in Abuja, Nigeria, officials interviewed enumerated on some likely causes and continued occurrence eof dometic violence and spousal abuse by husbands in the home in Nigeria. Some explanations were attributed to the patrilineal nature of Nigerian society, male dominated cultural practices - for instance the expectation that the man should be the bread winner, and when this is not the case, family tension is created. Another interesting dimension and finding concerns the proliferation of small arms especially guns and knieves - if a husband has a weapon in the house, the wife lives in fear, and this adds to the power dynamics in the home and sometimes spousal abuse. They advocate public enlightenment and education for Nigerians on he need for treating everyone with dignity and respect.

Given the dearth in statistics on incidents of violence against women and young girls in Nigeria, in order to get an idea of the nature and reasons for some of the incidents of spousal abuse in Nigeria, one unavoidable source of information is the print media. An organisation Project Alert periodically compiles selected print media reports of violence and attacks on women and young girls in Nigeria. Some examples from Project Alert (2009) on attacks on women between November 2005 and December 2007 (see Table 1 in Appendix) revealed that there were a total of 61 media reports of domestic violence during this period. A total of 35(57%) and 9(15%) of incidents respectively had husbands and boyfriends as the perpetrators. For this same number of incidents, 37(61%) and 11(18%) resulted on deaths and divorce respectively. Other perpetrators include sons, mother, father and relations or relatives, and other consequences include grievous bodily harm and abandonment. For the period December 2006 to November 2007 (See Table 2), out of a total of 37 incidents reported in the print media, husbands, mothers and fathers accounted for 29(78%), 5(14%), 3(8%) respectively. For this period and number of incidents, 21(57%), 8(22%), 7(19%), and 1(3%) resulted in divorce, deaths, abandonment and grievous bodily harm respectively. Though incidents are few, husbands, boyfriends and strangers are known to have carried out acid bathe attacks. These analyses indicate that husbands and boyfriends feature prominently as perpetrators of domestic violence.

Some specific examples of incidents of wife or spousal abuse from print media reports include that of a young woman who was allegedly murdered by her 27 year old husband after a scuffle in their home in Asaba town of Delta State, south eastern Nigeria (The Vanguard newspaper, December 01, 2005). According to the Daily Independent newspaper of December 30, 2005 a housewife was allegedly stabbed to death by her husband at Dunga village, Jigawa State, north-west Nigeria. Another lady was allegedly stabbed to death by her live-in boyfriend who accused her of infidelity in Lagos State, south-west Nigeria (Vanguard newspaper, December 27, 2005). In another incident, a young mother of three was killed by her husband of eight years for abandoning him in the time of illness in Oshodi, Lagos State, south-west Nigeria (Saturday Punch newspaper, February 25, 2006). In Ekpan town of Delta State, south-eastern Nigeria, a young woman was killed by her husband for coming late from work (Vanguard newspaper, March 16, 2006). In the Dauda area of Kaduna State north-eastern Nigeria, a primary school teacher was killed by her husband for refusing to collect a motorcycle loan (Vanguard newspaper, March 8, 2006). In Iba, Lagos State, a pregnant nurse was beaten to death by her husband for sending their housemaid whom he had impregnated away without his consent (Saturday Sun newspaper, April 8, 2006). A wife of a politician was severely beaten by her husband in Abuja the Federal Capital Territory in central Nigeria for interrupting him during a love session with his younger lover in their family home and bedroom (Daily Sun newspaper, November 28, 2006). Incidents of this nature still occur periodically. Finally, a husband pleaded guilty before a Magistrate Court in Lagos for causing grievous bodily damage on his spouse by dowsing her with acid - he was sentenced to eight months imprisonment with hard labour without option of fine (The Punch newspaper, January 17, 2006).

CONCLUSION

The facts point to men as the major culprits in domestic violence. Our discussion has shown that one can explain the physical and sexual abuse of women in the home from various perspectives. There is no one single factor to account for violence perpetrated against women and research has focused on the inter-relatedness of various factors aimed at improving our understanding of the problem within different cultural contexts (Abama and Kwaja, 2009: 26). Historically, the abuse of women has been a major feature of family life. A situation traceable to patriarchic structure of most societies, cultures, religions, social organizations and structures, ideological practices and view points amongst other factors that all contribute in creating an enabling environment in and out of the home for the abuse of women. Various explanations or theories on the causes of wife abuse range from emphasis on the individual to the society. Thus, the experiences of the offender and in some cases the victim and the framework within the society responding and treating domestic violence play important roles in containing or reducing violence and abuse of women in the home. Studies reveal that male batterers come from all socio-economic backgrounds, races, religions and walks of life.

Apart from cultural re-socialisation and public enlightenment on the devastating effects of domestic violence, the criminal justice system should be more efficient in handling matters of physical and sexual abuse of women in the home. Laws and sanctions should be created and implemented to deter offenders. Adopting a 'zero tolerance' approach would be a good idea. The impact of abuse on women can be devastating to individuals, the family and society For instance, Amir (1971), Fattah (1979) and Wolfgang (1958) argue that the abuse of women in the home centers around 'victim precipitation' - the woman's actions even when the abuser is murdered is said to be the result or outcome of her short or prolonged abuse. Fagan, (1996) pointed out that although legislatures have been acting to increase the use of both civil and criminal legal sanctions to control domestic violence, there is continuing discussion of how the court system can most effectively protect domestic violence victims. However, he noted that historically, like the police, prosecutors have been accused of disinterest in family violence cases by failing to file cases presented by the police or discouraging the pursuit of criminal complaints.

Some progress is being made in some parts of Nigeria with regard to the treatment of offenders. For instance, according to the Guardian Newspaper of Wednesday June 27, 2012 on page 6, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice announced changes in he Criminal Law of the State 2011 and the Administration of Justice, 2011. Lagos State government has criminalized the neglect of expectant women. It ststed that it is now a punishable offence under Section 277 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State for any person who impregnates a woman or a girl to fail, refuse or neglect to contribute to maternity related costs from ante-natal to post-natal stages. The provision of the lagos State law was spelt out in the Thisday Newspaper of July 06, 2012 page 9, in an article by Gboyega Akinsanmi titled "lagos to penalize men who Abandon pregnant partners." Section 277(1) states that "any person who impregnates a woman or girl and fails, refuses or neglects to contribute to maternity related costs from ante-natal to post-natal stages is guilty of an offence and liable to fine of Forty Five Thousand naira (45,000) without prejudice to the recovery of any cost that any other person may havr reasonably incurred in relation to the upkeep of the child." The new law provides for other forms of punishment which include compensation, restitution, community service orders and probation.

Finally, the issue of adequate and appropriate record keeping especially by the police in Nigeria needs to be emphasized. Having the equired resources and offence categories are important issues to get right.

Stake holders in Nigeria are of the view that ……….

I have given you children…….

Table 1: Domestic Violence/Murder November 2005 - November 2006

Age of victims

Total

PERPETRATORS

CONSEQUENCES

Husband

Boyfriend

Son

Mother

Father

Relation

D

GBH

DT

AB

1-18

7

-

2

-

2

2

1

-

2

4

1

19-30

16

8

7

-

1

-

-

2

1

11

2

31-44

24

20

-

1

-

-

2

6

3

14

-

45-55

6

5

-

1

-

-

-

2

1

2

1

56 and above

8

1

-

6

-

-

1

1

-

6

1

Total

61

35

9

8

3

2

4

11

7

37

6

Source: Project Alert (2009), Table 1: 3

Key: D - Divorce, GBH - Grievous Bodily Harm, DT - Death, AB - Abandonment

Table 2: Domestic Violence/Murder December 2006 - November 2007

Age of victims

Total

PERPETRATORS

CONSEQUENCES

Husband

Boyfriend

Son

Mother

Father

Relation

D

GBH

DT

AB

1-18

8

-

-

-

5

3

-

-

1

2

5

19-30

10

10

-

-

-

-

-

7

-

2

1

31-44

13

13

-

-

-

-

-

8

-

4

1

45-55

4

4

-

-

-

-

-

4

-

-

-

56 and above

2

2

-

-

-

-

-

2

-

-

-

Total

37

29

-

-

5

3

-

21

1

8

7

Source: Project Alert (2009), Table 1: 3

Key: D - Divorce, GBH - Grievous Bodily Harm, DT - Death, AB - Abandonment