By Florence Onuegbu
The Lagos State Government, through its Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency, has charged religious leaders to prevent domestic violence especially among couples.
It gave the charge during the ”Engagement of Religious Leaders on Preventing Domestic Violence in Lagos State”, on Thursday, in Ikeja.
The Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Home Affairs, Mrs Lolade Aina, said that religious leaders had strategic role to play in pre-marital counselling.
Aina, who was represented by Mr Olawale Adams, an official of the ministry, said that it was high time people grew beyond stereotypes that the society was a ”man’s world”, that manliness was best proclaimed when the women folk were marched on or stepped on.
She said that it was time voices were raised in support of the well-being of the women folk.
According to her, the fragility of women is meant to be protected and not to be taken undue advantage of.
”Let no one make the mistake that we, in any way, approve of such women who are themselves violence-seeking and are violence inflictors on men through all kinds of means.
”Our approach to solving this problem therefore, must be holistic and we should frown at all the agents of violence.
”We are very positive that religion has all that it takes to mould the human mind positively and imbue hearts with virtues, and turn the violent to the most peaceful and supporters of all that is good and progressive,” she said.
The Permanent Secretary said that promoting the ideals of peace, love, self-respect and civility would help to overcome the challenge of domestic violence to a reasonable degree.
In her opening remarks, the Executive Secretary, Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency (DSVA), Mrs Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi said that the alarming rate of domestic violence among civil-married couples in Lagos State was worrisome.
Vivour-Adeniyi said that the state government had taken a firm stance against Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) crimes in the state.
She said it had done so by providing a strong culture, policy and procedures for prevention, education, training and support to victims and survivors of such heinous crimes.
The executive secretary said that according to DSVA 2022 findings, at least 60 per cent of survivors of domestic violence who had contracted their marriages under the Matrimonial Causes Act knew about the abusive tendency of their intending spouses.
She said that they, however, still proceeded with the union, with little or no knowledge of available supports or coping mechanisms of these red flags.
Vivour-Adeniyi said that the data also revealed some triggers contributing to domestic violence and intimate partner violence.
She identified these as financial dependency, third-party interference, lack of communication, lack of sexual satisfaction, unrealistic expectation, and infidelity.
According to her, about 70 per cent of survivors that reported at DSVA disclosed that they have previously reported to their pastor or their Imam before coming to report to the agency.
”Given the above growing concern, the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency recognised the pivotal roles religious institutions play in the establishment of marriages and the sustainability of families.
”DSVA finds it expedient to engage religious leaders to discuss the strategic position of religious institutions in pre-marital counselling for intending couples from a preventive perspective before saying ”I Do”,” she said.
In her presentation, Mrs Folashade Ajayi, Executive Director, Life skills Empowerment Initiative, said that premarital counselling was a preventive tool to reduce drastically or eradicate domestic violence.
Ajayi said that the truth of the matter was that a lot of people did not understand what marriage was all about before going into it, and didn’t even understand what violence was all about.
She said that there were technological abuse, emotional abuse, psychological abuse, among other abuses or violence.
”Sometimes, taking your husband’s phone without consent or your spouse’s phone, demanding for their password is technological abuse.
“So, premarital counselling will guide us and will help us understand all these and be able to prevent them,” Ajayi said.
Also in her presentation, Mrs Atinuke Odukoya, the Executive Director, Centre for Women’s Health and Information, described SGBV as a social disruptor that affected the equilibrium of the society and created challenges that had ripple effects on other areas.
Odukoya said that the effects of SGBV include traumas, suicide, violence, infertility, dysfunctional homes and children, various health issues, among others.
She said that all of these could lead to insecurity, crime and subsequently to death in a number of cases.
”There is the tendency for survivors to become perpetrators and abusers themselves, thereby bringing about an unending vicious cycle of violence and crime which, in turn, collapses the balance and coherence that should, otherwise, exist within the social space,” she said. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Oluwole Sogunle