Wild, Wild Amazons

*Yewande (R), serving a seven-year jail term after killing husband, Lowo

Many male victims of spousal abuse have become masters of dumbness to protect their ego

Ime Akpan

Intimate partner violence (IPV), which is synonymous with wife beating, wife battering, man beating, husband battering, relationship violence, domestic abuse, spousal abuse, and family violence, has been mostly focused on violence against women, with less attention given to women perpetrators of violence against men.

But recent events in Nigeria point to the fact that women have undoubtedly become the aggressors, taking it out fatally on their husbands, boyfriends, or lovers.

Case Studies

The recent murder of Bilyamin Bello, by his wife, Maryam Sanda on suspicion of infidelity, is a case in point. Prior to Bello’s brutal murder, one Yewande Oyediran a staff of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) in the Oyo State Ministry of Justice, had hacked her husband, Oyelowo popularly called Lowo, to death in Akobo area of Ibadan on February 2, 2016 after a domestic fight.

Yewande was recently handed a slap-on-the-wrist sentence of seven years imprisonment for manslaughter. The learned trial judge, Justice Muntar Abimbola, said the convict was charged on a murder count by the prosecution but ruled that although evidence pointed to her as the killer of her husband, witnesses presented by the defence counsel failed to establish the intent behind the killing.

The sentencing has attracted scathing criticisms from Nigerians who believe that violence against men though more of an abnormality, does not reduce the gravity of the offence.

There was also the brutal murder of Mr. Lawrence Idoko by his wife, Folashade on August 20, 2017 in Aiyetoro in the Ijanikin area of Lagos State after the wife discovered a text message alleged to have been sent by the deceased’s girlfriend.

*Maryam, currently in VIP cell of FCT Police Command after stabbing husband, Bilyamin to death

Before his death, Lawrence was said to have been physically abused and threatened by his wife who often displayed violent tendencies.

Oyelowo’s and Billyamin’s killings had similar trademarks. In Oyelowo’s case, the aggressor stabbed him on the shoulder missing his heart by just few inches. He was treated in a hospital and later discharged. But in the night, trouble started again during which Yewande stabbed him fatally on the neck.

In Billyamin’s, the killer-wife first chopped off his ear-lobe in the afternoon. Like Oyelowo, he was treated in a hospital and later discharged. In the night, a scuffle ensued during which Maryam delivered the “most unkindest cut” that sent the husband to be in the bosom of his ancestors permanently.

In 2013, there was the story of one Israel Obi who was given a hot vegetable oil bath by his wife, Vitoria.

“I got married to Victoria May 2005 and settled in Odorasanya in, Ijebu Igbo of Ogun State. It all started when my wife influenced me about our relocation to Lagos and I did not know it was the beginning of my trauma. Victoria, influenced by our new environment (hustle and bustle in Lagos), started coming late from her shop. And anytime I cautioned my wife, she turned the situation into an argument. She changed from my loving wife to the abusive spouse calling me different names.

One night, Israel and his wife had an intense argument and around 1.00am when the man was asleep, Victoria poured hot vegetable oil on him.

“It was our neighbours from the other flats that took me to a hospital and I was there for a whole month,” he said.

After his discharge from the hospital, Victoria pleaded for forgiveness and they were together again. But barely two weeks after, while Israel was receiving a phone call from a distant aunt, Victoria thought it was a conversation with an unknown mistress.

“Before I knew what was happening, she smashed my phone to the ground and started destroying all the gadgets at home. When I tried to stop her, she became more aggressive and stabbed me with a knife,” Israel narrated.

Elsewhere in the U. K., the case involving a brain-damaged former James Bond motorbike stuntman, Mr. Eddie Kidd, 58 and his wife, Samantha, is pathetic.

Kidd was one of the world’s most famous stunt riders until he suffered serious head and pelvic injuries following a failed stunt jump in 1996 in Warwickshire which left him unable to walk. He revealed in 2013 how he suffered humiliating beatings from his jailed wife, Samantha, 44.

Kidd said: “She had started drinking heavily and would just change. She would slap me in the face and punch me in the chest and arms, strangle me and say horrible things.

“As a man, any man, to be beaten by your wife is desperately humiliating and, in a way, shameful.  I ended up blaming myself – thinking she had taken too much – or, that it was my fault.

“I took on so much when I was riding. Then after all the stunts, all the fanfare, I am sat in a chair being beaten by my wife and there is nothing I can do.’

Mrs. Kidd was arrested for domestic violence on December 2012 after her husband’s family reported her to police days after the couple split up. She was jailed for five months for four assaults in August 2013.

Masters of dumbness

Seen a man with swollen eye or lips, bandaged forehead, or bruised arm and he tells you he had a domestic accident? Or you notice he is being treated of burns and he says he had thermal accident while preparing tea for his little boy? He may be a victim of intimate lover aggression but prefers to ‘suffer and smile’ to avoid being seen as unmanly. Whereas women who experience domestic violence are openly encouraged to report it to the authorities, men who experience such spousal abuse often encounter pressure against reporting, with those that do facing social stigma regarding their perceived lack of machismo and other denigrations of their masculinity. Additionally, IPV against men is generally less recognized by society than IPV against women, which can act as a further block to men reporting their situation.

Folashade Idoko (R), currently in prison custody awaiting trial after hacking the husband, Lawrence, to death

Experts say the relative prevalence of IPV against men to that of women is highly disputed between different studies, with some countries having no data at all. Some researchers believe the actual number of male victims is likely to be greater than law enforcement statistics suggest due to the high number of men who do not report their abuse. For both men and women, domestic violence is among the most under-reported crimes worldwide.

IPV against men is a controversial area of research, with terms such as gender symmetry, battered husband syndrome and bi-directional IPV provoking a great deal of debate. The lines of the debate tend to fall between two basic polemics. The first of these argues that scholars who focus on female-perpetrated IPV are part of an anti-feminist backlash, and are attempting to undermine the problem of male-perpetrated IPV by championing the cause of the abused man over the much more serious cause of the abused woman.

The second polemic argues that IPV against men is a significant but under-reported problem, which domestic violence researchers and radical feminists have ignored and sought to obscure in order to protect fundamental tenants of feminist theories about domestic violence – specifically, the idea that IPV is an extension of patriarchal dominance.

One of the main tools used to generate statistics concerning victims of IPV, the conflict tactics scale, has been particularly contentious.

Determining the rate of IPV against males can be difficult, as men are often more reluctant than women to report their abuse or seek help. One of the reasons for this is that IPV against men is generally less recognized by society than IPV against women.

Additionally, heterosexual male victims of IPV are often judged harshly for “allowing” themselves to be beaten by a woman. This view is based upon the general rule that men are physically stronger than women, and, therefore, should be able to prevent any kind of female violence; a view which disregards that violent women tend to use objects during IPV at a higher rate than violent men.

*Former stripper, Samantha (R), jailed five months for physically assaulting her husband, Eddie Kidd

Another reason men are often reluctant to report victimization concerns socio-cultural stereotypes of masculinity; male victims of IPV often hide their suffering due to fear of being judged negatively by others, and/or having their masculinity questioned. For some men, this evasive behaviour is based upon the fear of being ridiculed by friends or co-workers, by shyness in dealing with peers and/or with (non-violent) women, and by fear of people saying that the woman is the real victim, and must have been acting in self-defense. For a man to admit he is the victim of female perpetrated IPV necessitates the abandonment of the veneer of machismo which society expects from men, and to admit being submissive to a female partner.

Most cases of domestic violence take on the narrative of the man doing the battering, or in extreme cases, taking the life of his wife or girlfriend.

For some men, this is an admission they are unwilling, or unable, to make. Some researchers have also demonstrated a degree of socio-cultural acceptance of aggression by women against men, whereas there is a general condemnation of aggression by men against women. This can lead to men not considering themselves victims, and/or not realizing the IPV they are experiencing is a crime.

Different strokes

Some studies have shown that women who assault their male partners are more likely to avoid arrest than men who attack their female partners, and that female perpetrators of IPV are often viewed by law enforcement agencies and the courts as victims rather than offenders. As such, men fear that if they do report to the police, they will be assumed to be the aggressor, and placed under arrest.

The 1985 U.S. National Family Violence Survey, carried out by Murray A. Straus and Richard J. Gelles on a nationally representative sample of 41 houses where 1 to 10 calls to the police had been made (24 female callers and 17 male callers), found that when a woman called the police to report IPV, the man was ordered out of the house in 41.4% of cases. However, when a man called, the woman was ordered out of the house in 0% of cases. When a woman called, the man was threatened with immediate arrest in 28.2% of cases; when a man called, the woman was threatened with arrest in 0% of cases. When a woman called, the man was threatened with arrest at a later date in 10.7% of cases; when a man called, the woman was threatened with arrest at a later date in 0% of cases. When a woman called, the man was arrested in 15.2% of cases; when a man called, the woman was arrested in 0% of cases. In fact, in 12.1% of cases when the man called, the man himself was arrested.

In other lands

According to a 2004 survey in Canada, the percentages of males being physically or sexually victimized by their partners was 6% versus 7% for women. However, females reported higher levels of repeated violence and were more likely than men to experience serious injuries; 23% of females versus 15% of males were faced with the most serious forms of violence including being beaten, choked, or threatened with or having a gun or knife used against them. Also, 21% of women versus 11% of men were likely to report experiencing more than 10 violent incidents. According to a report by the United States Department of Justice, a survey of 16,000 Americans showed 22.1% of women and 7.4% of men reported being physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, boyfriend or girlfriend, or date in their lifetime. A 2010 survey of over 21,000 residents of England and Wales by the UK Home Office showed that 7% of women and 4% of men were victims of domestic abuse in 2013.

Domestic violence against men has been on steady increase in Kenya and its assuming a worrisome dimension. It was reported in 2011 that almost five hundred thousand men were beaten by their wives in Kenya. The rising cases of husband battery are blamed on increasing “female superiority complex”.

BBC reported that a men’s group in Kenya named Maendeleo Ya Wanaume (“Progress for Men”) announced an initiative to protest what is becoming a growing problem of female perpetrated domestic abuse in that country.

The protest will entail a nationwide boycott of meals made by their wives and partners and is supposed to encourage men to eat away from home together and share their experiences with domestic abuse whether physical or emotional. In Kenyan culture, eating your wife’s meal is said to be a very important part of a man’s expression of appreciation for his wife.

In 2013, the group conducted its own survey of Central and Nairobi provinces and found that up to 460,000 men said they had been subjected to some sort of domestic abuse. The two provinces have a combined population of more than seven million people. This figure represents an increase from 160,000 cases in 2009. Many women responded defensively to the news and statistics. They say the rash of domestic violence reflects deep-seated frustration with husbands and fathers they often describe as dead-beat. The chairman of Maendeleo ya Wanawake — “Progress for Women” — in Kiswahili, publicly stated that men who don’t provide for their families should be beaten, the result of which are deformed faces, broken legs, burnt bodies and chopped private parts.

And in Nigeria

The Nigeria society is a highly patriarchal one, in which men have bloated egos. Though there is a prevalence of domestic violence against women in Nigeria as many women have died, brutalised or maimed for life by their violent male counterparts, however, there is also a prevalence of domestic violence against men, which has largely remained under-reported.

Husband punching, slapping, kicking, nail scratching, sex deprivation and killing are realities that occur in Nigeria.

The tragedy is that men who find themselves in this situation hide and do not talk openly about their experience, as talking about it will bruise their ego and expose them to ridicule in a patriarchal society. I was beaten by my wife is a misnomer! It is unheard of in a male egoistic society. Hence such men prefer to suffer in silence until it becomes critical to the point of likely death.

A study conducted by Dienye, P.O. and Gbeneol, P.K. (2009) on ‘Domestic Violence Against Men in Primary Care in Nigeria’ (published in American Journal of Men’s Health) at the General Outpatient Department of the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, and cited by Anthony Abayomi Adebayo in ‘Domestic Violence against Men: Balancing the Gender Issues in Nigeria’ 9published in American Journal of Sociological Research 2013, revealed that out of a total of 48 victims of domestic violence, five (10.4 per cent) were males.

Speaking against domestic violence, Mrs. Joe Okei-Odumakin of Women Arise urged anybody experiencing marital violence to always speak up to avoid dangerous and fatal situation.

She noted that marital violence against men is rising and must be stopped before it further deteriorates.

“For men experiencing domestic violence, silence is no longer golden. Speak up before it is too late. Violence against men in matrimonial setups is on the increase and we must end this menace,” she said.

Ms. Betty Abah of CEE-Hope called on the judiciary to mete out justice according to the constitution of the country as this would help in further curbing domestic violence.

“We believe that injustice to one is injustice to all. We believe that just like women, men can also be victims of domestic violence. We stand for justice and we have no doubt that justice will be served. We believe that it will serve as a deterrent to persons who perpetuate gender-based violence, be they men or women,” she said.




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