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Domestic Violence: Birth Of An Ugly Twist



The news of a Danish national suspected of killing his Nigerian wife hit different media outlets last week. It was as surprising to most people as it was horrifying. Different views on what could have led the foreigner to commit such an offence have since taken over several conversations. Victoria Omuya Usman writes

Domestic abuse and cases of partner violence is a global thing. According to the United Nations, 38 per cent of murders of women worldwide are committed by their male partners, just as partner violence is the most common type of violence against women, affecting 30 per cent of women globally.

Nigeria has its own domestic violence cases resulting in the death of a partner, male or female. But in recent times, the country has also recorded cases of foreign men killing their Nigerian wives.

While the case involving a Danish citizen, Peter Nielsen, and his upcoming Nigerian artist wife Zainab and their three-year-old daughter is still fresh in the mind, there was also a reported case early last year of a Polish man who was accused of killing his Nigerian wife in Poland where they lived.

This man didn’t stop at that but also cremated her body in such a hurry her family members never got the chance of paying their last respect.

The question is, why are foreign men married to Nigerian women abusing their wives so much that it results in death? And going forward, how easy would it be for parents to give their daughters out in marriage to foreign men?

For many people who dared to answer the first question, it’s mainly in expectations. Majority of foreign men expect their African wives to be totally submissive because of certain cultures and beliefs that still characterize African societies. And where there is a slight resistance, it results in out bursts that could be fatal. But for Saratu Gimba, a mother who has had her daughter studying abroad for a long time now, culture and beliefs can’t be all.

‘‘Most parents are so over-excited about their daughters marrying foreigners that the necessary background check of the man is not done,’’ she said. As far as she is concerned, the problem is not that the manA is foreign but that he is a bad man. So he can still be Nigerian and treat anyone’s daughter badly.

Would she then allow her daughter marry a foreigner? ‘‘Abroad is not space. Before I give my daughter out in marriage to a foreigner, I would have investigated to know everything I need to help me with deciding for or against the marriage,” she replied.

Another mother, Samira Adubazi believes that difference in the way humans deal with issues based on environmental factors could be the culprit. ‘‘The way white men deal and react to issues is different from how a Nigerian man would,’’ she began. ‘‘They are very emotional and expressive. They don’t bottle up things like us. They can be so emotional and just react.’’

She however agrees with the earlier suggestion that whether foreigner or native, there are bad men on both divides and only the vigilance of parents and good up bringing can prevent anyone’s daughter from falling victim.

Mrs. Adubazi also believes that the government has a part to play. Once a precedent is set with one case, others may think twice about committing the same offence against the citizen of a country they know the government will not easily sweep under the carpet.

How about fathers’? ‘‘A man is a man,’’ said one father who would rather stay anonymous to keep the secret of how he’d deal with the matter if need be. ‘‘I think that foreign men just take advantage of the fact that we treat them as saints to misbehave sometimes. And since they are always right, over time, their confidence grew to now include domestically abusing their Nigerian wives even when they are

surrounded by Nigerians especially relatives of the woman.’’

As to what his reaction would be if his daughter were to bring a foreigner home he simply replied: ‘‘It only just became a thing of concern with a few incidences. So let’s hope that it would end with just these cases.”

‘‘In the eyes of the law, crimes are treated based on the law of the land where they are committed,’’ said Barr. Abdulkarem Alabi. Suggesting that there is actually no special treatment whatsoever to allow a foreigner purposely commit such a heinous crime even in Nigeria. But there could be a request from the foreigner’s home country that he be allowed to serve whatever jail sentence in his country.

The Nielson case which has been adjourned for hearing next month has the backing of dozens of activists and civil rights groups who are optimistic that justice will be served. In obedience to court orders, the suspect is to be detained in prison until his June 28 hearing in a high court. Indeed, there is no preferential treatment for anyone in the eyes of the law.