The protection against domestic violence is a very crucial issue and is indispensable in the achievement of a safe and serene family and environmental life.
It is in recognition of the need to protect against violence and abuses that states have taken the laudable step of enacting Laws to curb the seemingly increasing trend of domestic violence cases in Nigeria.
Hence, the fulcrum of this article is to educate the readers on the statutory definition of Domestic Violence and appraise the provisions of Laws in Nigeria on domestic violence.
WHAT IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Domestic violence is defined by the World Health Organization as behaviour directed towards a family or household member that would cause a reasonable person to feel traumatized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or assaulted.
Section 18(g) of Protection Against Domestic Violence Law of Lagos State, 2007, defines domestic violence to mean physical abuse, sexual abuse exploitation including but not limited to rape, incest and sexual assault; starvation; emotional, verbal and psychological abuse; economic abuse and exploitation; denial of basic education; intimidation; harassment; stalking; hazardous attack including acid both with offensive and poisonous substance; damage to property among others.
LAWS ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
- Constitution Of The Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended)
Section 34 provides that every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his/her person and accordingly no person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment.
- Violence Against Person's Prohibition Act, 2015
The Act was enacted to prohibit all forms of violence in private and public life and provides the maximum protection and effective remedies for victims and punishment of offenders and for other matters thereto.
This Act is only applicable in FCT Abuja, however, some States which includes Anambra, Bauchi, Enugu, Kaduna and Oyo states have also passed it into their law.
Section 19 (1) of the Act provides that
“ a person who batters his or her spouse commits offence and is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or to a fine not exceeding #200,000.00 or both”
Also, subsection 2 provides that
“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 1 year or to a fine not exceeding #100,000.00 or both”
Furthermore, 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 1 year or to a fine not exceeding #200,000.00 or both.
The law empowers the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and other related matters (NAPTIP) as regulatory body mandated to administer the provision of the law and collaborate with the appropriate stakeholders. Section 44
- Protection against Domestic Violence Law of Lagos State (PADVL):
Section 1 provides that no person shall commit domestic violence against any person under the Law.
This law is only applicable in Lagos State. By virtue of this Law, the Magistrate Court or High Court have jurisdiction to hear and determine criminal matters arising from this Law.
The Court is also statutorily empowered to grant interim protective order in favour of a person who is being abused.
- Ekiti State Gender-Based Violence (Prohibition) Law
Gender-based violence was defined as violence that affects a person or group of persons disproportionately because of their sex; any act that inflicts physical, mental and sexual harm or suffering; threats of such acts, coercion and other deprivation of liberty; all acts of violence with impair or nullify the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms under general international law or under human rights convection as discrimination. Section 2.
Section 3(1) of the law provides that a person who willfully causes or inflict physical injury on another person by means of any weapon, substance or object, commit an offence and is liable on conviction to a minimum of two years imprisonment or a fine not less than N200,000( Two Hundred thousand Naira) or both.
Any person who attempts to commit an act of violence commits an offence and he is liable on conviction to a minimum of one-year imprisonment and to a fine not less than N100,000 (One Hundred thousand Naira) or both. Section 3 (2)
Also, any person who incite, aides, abates or counsel another person to commit the act of violence provided in section 1(1) commit an offence and liable to a conviction to minimum of one year imprison or to a fine not less than N100,000 (One Hundred Thousand Naira) or both. Section 3(3)
Section 10 prohibits any person from forcefully ejecting their spouse from their matrimonial home.
A person who forcefully evict his or her spouse from his or her own or refuse him or her access commit an offence and he is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment for three month or to a fine N100,000 in the first instance or to a term of six months imprisonment or a fine of N200,000 or both in other instance.
The law provide for establishment of specialized court known as the Gender court in at least 3 Senatorial Districts of the state for the purpose of hearing cases of Gender-Based violence.
- The Cross River Domestic Violence and Maltreatment of Widows' Prohibition Law, 2014.
The law limits its operation to women and it criminalizes domestic violence by providing that:
‘Any person who subjects any woman to any form of unwholesome treatment or domestic violence commits an offence punishable by imprisonment and fine'.
It is pertinent to note that this Law makes no provision for men suffering from Domestic Violence.
The provisions of the law are laudable and commendable. However, it is suggested that the government updates the law in line with emerging trends and occurrence, embark upon a more aggressive implementation of the provisions of the law and engage wider publicity and education of all stakeholders on their rights and the need to guard against domestic violence.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.