Olumide Omosebi, a lawyer, is certainly unhappy about the persistent rise in domestic violence in Nigeria
Having lost 42 persons that include family members and close friends to intimate partner violence, the founder of The Gnosis Help Initiative, said he wished there was something he could do to turn back the hands of time, to save some of the victims from the needless deaths.
He said the insatiable hunger to prevent more deaths from domestic violence led to the emergence of the organisation.
“The group was created due to the increase in death resulting from spousal-based violence. I have lost friends and families to it over the years. There was one that happened last year. The wife ran to the balcony and the husband ran there and pushed her down. She survived the ordeal but became paralysed. The man responsible for her condition relocated abroad and remarried. It was a sad thing because she could have avoided it,” he said.
The lawyer explained that his organisation counsels couples and also helps facilitate divorce for domestic violence victims that want to leave but can’t afford the legal fees. He noted that another initiative called ‘Just Before You Say I Do’, was recently launched to basically give advice to singles who want to make decisions concerning marriage.
“We have been going to tertiary institutions to educate them about the mistakes people make while choosing life partners. I usually advise them by drawing from my 20 years experience in marriage,” he said.
Recalling the number of people he had buried so far, Omotebi said 2018 was a sad year for members of the organisation as there was no month that at least two people were not buried. “Each partner kept thinking the other would change until their death.” he stated.
He explained that there are no new issues affecting marriages other than the ones already in existence and lamented that the statistics of people that have succumbed to domestic violence keeps rising yearly.
“The issue is that couples don’t know these problems and have not been taught how to handle them, so they keep making the same mistakes and end up same way.
“The statistics we have showed that two out of five marriages end up being violent. Also from the Ikoyi registry, it was gathered that out of about 2.5 million marriages held in the last 10 years, over 600, 000 did not survive the second year. Ten per cent of the rest suffered violence that led to death or injury. We found out that two out of five marriages suffer domestic violence and abuse in the first year, meaning that there is high level of failure in marriages.
“In Badagry Registry, between January and September 2016, there were 30,000 reported cases of failed marriages. These are just the reported cases. You can imagine the unreported cases. I am tired of separating and settling issues in marriages. There was a time we had to pass through a window to rescue a woman locked in the toilet by her husband. The man went out to buy petrol to burn the house. After whisking her out of the house, the husband followed her until we were able to take her to a place where he could not reach her again. He went ahead to burn all her things.
“There was a time we had to provide security for a woman in the hospital because the husband was not satisfied with the beating he already gave her. We have buried so many people that we just have to start teaching the younger generation. We need to do this so that they will not have to declare war on themselves,” he stated.
Omosebi advised singles to push aside spirituality when it comes to choosing a life partner, stressing that it remains the biggest cause of broken homes across the country.
“Last year alone, the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team, recorded over 3,000 domestic violence cases and about 100 violence related deaths. When we put all the figures together, we discovered that more marriages are failing. It was discovered that Christian marriages are more affected. Now, we are saying that God is the biggest reason for failed marriages in Nigeria. Nigerians spiritualise relationship and it is the biggest problem. They close their eyes to a bad character and depend on prayers. There is nowhere it is stated in the scripture that God told anybody who to marry. It is the person’s responsibility to look for a good woman. Character is the essence and building block of a lasting marriage not religion.”
Speaking on how he counsels singles about marriage and why he focuses on tertiary institutions, Omosebi said he preaches while counselling the students.
“We chose tertiary institutions because they are organised settings and probably the best place to meet learned or naive youth. It is a setting that has the highest number of youth. We will keep doing this until there is adequate orientation about domestic violence, even if it takes 20 years,” he stated.
The lawyer maintained that there is little anyone can do to prevent domestic violence.
“There is a limit to what the government can do to prevent increase in divorce and domestic violence because they can’t choose a spouse for anyone. We on our part can only orientate. Some men travel abroad and marry a white woman. Even though the government knows the motive behind the marriage, as long as their citizens agree to the union, they would allow the marriage to be consummated. If the government stops the marriage, the woman has been denied her fundamental human right. There is also a limit to what parents can do to determine the person their children want to marry, as long as the person involved is not underage.”