Need to reconsider rising domestic violence in West Africa
Rising domestic violence in West Africa necessitates a broad strategy of intervention and prevention that addresses structural poverty and cultural practices.
Idoko says that intense advocacy and research is bringing wider public attention to the problem of partner abuse, and many African governments appear to be listening. Initial pressure focused on protection laws and the provision of support services. But publicity has not automatically solved the problem. In fact, domestic violence in the region is on the rise – and this is closely linked to the preference among larger groups in traditional societies for enforcement of conformity to traditional roles for women in the family and dominance of husbands.
Idoko emphasizes that much more research is needed to underline the relationships between poverty and violence in the family; it is essential to show the impact of poverty on the rise of domestic abuse in West Africa. Indeed, poverty explains why most women in abusive relations feel trapped, because they are unable to support themselves independently. Wife battering also has a multiplier effect: children witnessing such violence can internalize violence as a form of conflict resolution.”
In addition, solutions must address deeply entrenched attitudes and centuries of tradition which in many countries ‘allow’ a husband to ‘educate’ his wife and children through physical violence.
Reducing violence may require successful economic development fundamental changes to local cultures and traditions. As other examples show, either of these can be immensely disruptive, and the last in particular can intense backlash. Idoko recommends a recommends a multilayered strategy that addresses causes and meets the needs of victim-survivors, and local, national, and international coordination among a range of actors is needed to tackle the problem. Such a recommendation shows how deeply domestic violence is enmeshed in society, and it could prove a far more recalcitrant human rights issue than others that need to be addressed.
Sources:Searchlight Centre for Democracy and Development, Oct 2010, pg 7
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