The public and media storm, raging over the recent death of popular gospel artiste, Mrs Osinachi Nwachukwu is still thundering.
The virulent online war is clearly unprecedented, but certainly not surprising.
Recall that last month, one Mrs. Ajueze Obiorah was stripped naked and paraded in Aguleri, Anambra State, by villagers, who accused her of killing her husband with sex.
The callous humiliation and violation of this young lady, attracted public fury, with activists demanding for urgent eradication of all cultures and traditions that denigrate women, particularly in the South East region.
Many female internet users are up in arms, accusing males of perpetrating wicked acts against their spouses. However many men are equally blaming women for the crises.
Indisputably, the circumstances surrounding the departure of this singer, famous for her ‘Ekwueme and Oku n’erere song’, are murky and controversial.
The incident, is clearly, razing down the hypocritical and superfluous reticence and uncanny ignorance, over rising incidences of Domestic Violence(DV) in Nigeria and other countries.
While some reports claimed that Osinachi, aged 42, died after few days on life support, the family and colleagues, accused the husband of culpability.
The deluge of tributes and eulogies, for the late musician, have been torrential, due to her popularity in the Nigeria church and Christian music industry.
Her family and close associates alleged that her husband beat her to death.
Despite the lack of clear evidence linking her demise to physical injuries, her sudden passage has been most shocking.
Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen, who visited the children of the deceased promised that Federal Government would seek justice for the late singer.
Few days ago, the Senate urged the police to ensure thorough investigation of the case, even as it observed a one-minute silence for the deceased.
Senator Ifeanyi Ubah, who presented the matter, alleged that the late artiste, died from domestic violence.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, in his reaction said: ‘The authorities should investigate the death of this citizen. The lives of every citizen must matter. This is one death too many.’
Meanwhile, the Federal Capital Territory(FCT) Police Command, has arrested Peter Nwachukwu, the husband of the deceased, following complaints by her brother.
The Command’s Public Relations Officer(PRO) DSP Josephine Adeh, confirmed the arrest. ‘He is now in our custody. The younger brother of the deceased reported the matter and we have commenced investigation.’
Interestingly, Dr. Paul Enenche, the senior pastor of Dunamis Gospel International Center, Abuja, denied knowledge of the allegations, levelled against the husband, who was also a leader and church worker in his church.
In a video broadcast, released few days ago, Dr. Enenche said: ‘Osinachi and her husband only informed me about a health challenge on her chest about two months ago.’
‘The thing we are hearing, after her passing, were things that were very very strange to my hearing.’
‘Then I began to ask questions. First I asked the twin sister, were you aware that your sister passed through all these things?’
‘She said yes. She knew some of them. but that the majority of them. She was hearing also from those she, the deceased, confided in. If you knew, why didn’t you let us know?’
The twin sister said, she always begged her ‘please don’t let the church know, don’t tell the pastor.’
This incident has, underscored the need to tackle the preponderance of domestic violence across society.
The heinous wall of silence and stigma, erected by religious leaders and society, over several generations, is finally crumbling.
Today, voices calling for practical and pragmatic approaches over this pandemic, are resonating across Nigeria and several countries.
Generally, many social scientists findings and empirical evidence, have shown that more women are disproportionately affected by abuses in intimate relationships.
A cursory review of the prevalence rates reflects this notion. The findings are quite shocking and expository.
The United Nations(UN) defines DV or intimate partner violence, as ‘a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.’
‘More than one in four ever-partnered women aged 15 to 49 years globally have experienced intimate partner violence.’ This was revealed in a study published online, on February 16, this year in The Lancet.
The lead investigator, Dr LynnMarie Sardinha, Senior Research Associate at the School for Policy Studies, Bristol Poverty Institute, stated this, during a recent a presentation to the World Health Organization(WHO).
Sardinha and colleagues used the WHO Global Database on Prevalence of Violence Against Women to estimate physical and sexual violence against women, aged 15 years and older, by male intimate partners. ‘The database included 366 eligible studies two million women in 161 countries between 2000 and 2018.’
According to the researchers 27 percent of ever-partnered women aged 15 to 49 years experienced physical or sexual intimate partner violence or both types of violence in their lifetime, with 13 percent experiencing it in the previous year before they were surveyed.
‘This violence affects adolescent girls and young women ages 15 to 19 years: 24 percent; ages 19 to 24 years: 26 percent.’
Obviously, women in low-income countries, such as Nigeria, reported higher lifetime and higher past-year prevalence versus those in high-income countries.
Their submissions are quite gloomy and disheartening.
‘Governments are not on track to meet the 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development Goal(SDGs) on the elimination of violence against women and girls. This is despite, robust evidence that intimate partner violence can be prevented.’
‘There is an urgent need to invest in effective multisectoral interventions, strengthen the public health response to intimate partner violence, and ensure it is addressed in post-COVID-19 reconstruction efforts.’
‘Intimate partner violence against women is a grave human rights violation and serious global public health concern.’
Generally, DV refers to ‘physically, sexually, and psychologically harmful behaviours in the context of marriage, cohabitation, or any other form of union, as well as emotional and economic abuse and controlling behaviours.’
Sadly it ‘can have major short-term and long-term physical and mental health effects, including injuries, depression, anxiety, unwanted pregnancies, and sexually transmitted infections among others, and can also lead to death.’
‘It is estimated that 38–50 percent of the murders of women are committed by intimate partners globally.
‘Intimate partner violence also leads to substantial social and economic costs for governments, communities, and individuals.
‘The COVID-19 pandemic and its associated control measures including lockdowns, mobility restrictions, and curfews, are further exacerbating the already heavy burden of intimate partner violence.’
However another study revealed that one in 10 men, 18 years of age or older has experience DV.
The prevalence of DV against men is pegged at 3.4 percent to 20.3 percent. A study reported that out of every three (3) deaths due to DV, two are women.
Sadly, the rates seem to be escalating, even in the Western world.
In Germany, for instance, ‘100,766 women were victims of DV in 2013, but in 2018, about 114,000 women were affected.’
The prevalence in Nigeria is quite high, particularly in South East, where wife beating, acid baths and life threatening conditions in homes, are gaining notoriety, due to patriarchal norms, religion, economic loss, stigma, ego, power fear, society pressure, family pressure and other unjustifiable factors.
The urgency to tackle this pandemic, through a national multi-sectoral initiatives involving parents, government, agencies, NGOs, religious, traditional and political leaders across the country can no longer be ignored.
Gender-based violence (GBV) is, undoubtedly, a human rights violation and must be expunged from society.
•Ojukwu, is a journalist and Fellow of USA sponsored Hubert H Humphrey Fellowship, a programme under the Fulbright Scholarship.
She wrote this treatise in honour of late Osinachi Nwachukwu and all victims of domestic violence, as part of her contributions to the global campaign against Gender-Based Violence, which disproportionately affects females across countries and cultures. Please kindly send feedback to [email protected]