Prior to the enactment of the provisions of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, 2015-herein after referred to as VAPA, applicable in Abuja, there were several reports of violence against women by men either as parents or husband or brother or in-law. So, those criminal laws that were in existence as at that time were majorly favourable to the women in respect of domestic violence. As time goes on, the reverse started becoming the case. Perhaps, those developments might have given rise to the enactment of the VAPA which generalizes persons who can be criminally liable for their suspected criminal action(s) under the Act to the effect that both male and female can now be charged with any contravention with any of the provisions of VAPA.
This paper considers the rising women’s domestic violence against men vis-à-vis the provisions of VAPA.
Under VAPA, ‘Domestic relationship’ means a relationship between any person and a perpetrator of violence constituted in any of the following ways— (a) they are or were married to each other, including marriages according to any law, custom or religion; (b) they live or have lived together in a relationship in the nature of marriage, although they are not or were not married to each other; (c) they are the parents of a child or children or are the persons who have or had a parental responsibility for that child or children: (d) they are family members related by consanguinity, affinity or adoption; (e) they are or were in an engagement, dating or customary relationship, including actual or perceived romantic, intimate or sexual relationship of any duration; or (f) they share or recently shared the same residence. And ‘domestic violence’ means any act perpetrated on any person in a domestic relationship where such act causes harm or may cause imminent harm to the safety, health or well being of any person;’. Also, ‘violence’ means any act or attempted act, which causes or may cause any person physical, sexual, psychological, verbal, emotional or economic harm whether this occurs in private or public life, in peace time and in conflict situations:’. See: section 46 of VAPA generally.
As observed above, there are several disturbing cases of women’s domestic violence against men in this present generation, such as: a woman beating her husband; a woman pouring some chemical substances on her husband’s body or her husband’s genitals; a woman hitting her husband with hard objects making the husband to sustain several physical injuries or leading to his death sometimes; a woman slaughtering her husband with sharp objects; a woman stabbing her husband with broken bottles; a woman pouring hot liquid on her husband; a woman arranging with some gangs to beat up her husband; a woman destroying her husband’s property or burning same; a woman poisoning her husband either by food poisoning etc.; a woman sending her husband away from the home; a woman causing emotional, psychological and verbal abuse against her husband; a woman doing any of those other acts that could result and or amount to act of violence; among others, either alone or with the help of her friends or family members. These acts of violence might have been committed by the woman for whatever reasons(s), may be as a form of revenge, or as a result of uncontrollable jealousy or anger or uncontrollable emotional and psychological disturbances or as a result of bad counsel or influence, either deliberately or mistakenly. These cases are becoming very rising on the high side that men generally, need to be very careful with relationship having any indication or suspicion of violence. For instance, the writer of this paper read a story of a woman on social media who discovered that her husband impregnated one of her friends one day. After her husband returned from place of work, she already prepared his meal-which they ate together-prepared the bed and they both had conjugal relationship that night. After the man slept off and unknown to him that the woman had previously bought some battery acid from a man which she intended to pour on him to seek revenge, the woman seized the opportunity and pour the battery acid on his manhood and according to the report, which is still in circulation on the social media, the man died five (5) days after the incidence! There are other cases of alleged homicide punishable with death, where a woman kills her husband. What is sometimes pitiable is that the spouses might have even given birth to children for themselves! In other words, what happens today is a reversal of what happened in the past!
Nevertheless, the writer of this paper admonishes women generally to try their best to control their emotions and anger. They should always avoid temptation of anger. They should always give room to God Almighty to take over of their lives. How will a child report such situation that, for instance ‘I do not have any parent anymore! My mother was sentenced to death because she killed my father! Or ‘My mother is serving a life imprisonment jail term for killing my father or for causing injurious harm that could lead to death to my father! All these are another trauma psychologically for such a child to bear!
The VAPA, by its preamble, is ‘An Act to eliminate violence in private and public life, prohibit all forms of violence against persons and to provide maximum protection and effective remedies for victims and punishment of offenders; and for related matters.’. Section 2 of the VAPA prohibits Inflicting physical injury on another thus (1) A person who willfully causes or inflicts physical injury on another person by means of any weapon, substance or object, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 5years or a fine not exceeding N100,000.00 or both. (2) A person who attempts to commit the act of violence provided for in subsection (1) of this section commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or to a fine not exceeding N200,000.00 or both. (3) A person who incites, aids, abets, or counsels another person to commit the act of violence provided for in subsection (1) of this section commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or to a fine not exceeding N200,000.00 or both. (4) A person who receives or assists another who, to his knowledge commits an offence under subsection (1) of this section, is an accessory after the fact and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or to a fine not exceeding N200,000.00 or both. (5) The Court may also award appropriate compensation to the victim as it may deem fit in the circumstance.’ Also, see: section 19 of VAPA where Spousal Battery is prohibited.
Furthermore, section 21 of VAPA prohibits Attack with Harmful Substance thus ‘21.(1) A person who uses chemical, biological or any other harmful liquid on another commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of life imprisonment without an option of fine. (2) A person who attempts to commit the act of violence described in subsection (1) of this section commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 25 years without an option of fine. (3) A person who incites aids, abets, or counsels another person to commit the act of violence, as provided for in subsection (1) of this section, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 25 years without an option of fine. (4) A person who receives or assists another who, to his or her knowledge, committed the offence provided for in subsection (1) of this section is an accessory after the fact and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 25 years without the option of fine.’.
It is noteworthy that a man also has the right to seek protection order from the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory-Abuja pursuant to sections 28 to 38 of the VAPA against his violent wife(ves) or woman(en) or in-laws.
Furthermore, it should be observed that any person who counsels, aids or abets or becomes accessory after the facts is also liable under VAPA!
Finally, it is hoped that Nigerian women either in Abuja or elsewhere in other States in Nigeria (according to those States’ Violence prohibition law(s)) will take a strict observance of the provisions of VAPA and desist and or refuse to subject to any act or counsel of violence against their husbands and will be a patient, loving, peaceful and God fearing women and mothers in their husband’s matrimony.