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ANALYSIS: Strangled for refusing hubby sex, rising violence against Plateau women

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A man returned to his house at 1 a.m., insisted on having sex with his wife that had spent the whole day at the farm while he caroused about the town. The woman complained she was tired and begged for more time to rest, so as to be better ready to fulfill her filial duty.

Late Simi Dusu: before she died
Late Simi Dusu: before she died

Her protest was in vain as she got strangled by her spouse.

A Plateau High Court in Barkin-Ladi, where this incident was narrated, has sentenced the culprit, 37-year-old Benjamin Toma, to death by hanging for killing Vicky, the mother of his two children.

Justice Samson Gang, in a 68-page judgement, condemned Mr. Toma after he pleaded guilty to the one-count charge of culpable homicide, punishable with death, under section 221 of the penal code.

The incident is only one of the many cases of rising violence against women in Plateau State.

“We have recorded 430 cases of violence against women and girls in Plateau in the last few months. The situation keeps getting worse,” said Comfort Zawaya, Senior Project Officer of the Christian Women for Excellence and Empowerment in Nigerian Society (CWEENS).

The story of a lady, Charity Thomas, killed by her male friend, a married soldier is also illustrative of the worrisome trend.

The lady had visited the man. While in the kitchen, her phone rang in the living room. The man picked the call and the caller turned out to be another man. He rushed to the kitchen to demand the identity of the caller.

Just as the flustered Ms. Thomas wondered why a married man should worry about her caller, the jealous lover, in a fit of anger, used the kitchen knife to stab the girl to death.

The army has promptly court-martialled Sunday Umaru, dismissed him after he was found guilty of killing Ms. Thomas, and handed him over to the police for prosecution.

The dismissed soldier, who was attached to the Special Task Force (STF) and on posting in Barkin-Ladi at the time of the incident, is currently facing a one-count charge of culpable homicide before a Barkin-Ladi High Court.

In another incident, Simi Dusu, a Jos-based business woman, noticed her little sister, Justina’s bulging physique and voiced out her fears.

The sister confirmed her suspicion. She was two months pregnant for one Stephen Luka, an unemployed resident of Tudun Wada, Jos.

Justina told her sister that Mr. Luka had owned up to the pregnancy, but wanted an abortion. Ms. Dusu was opposed to that and insisted on meeting Mr. Luka.

At the meeting, Mr. Luka again claimed responsibility for the pregnancy. But he restated his desire for an abortion, which the two women promptly rejected.

To demonstrate her understanding of Mr. Luka’s situation, Ms. Dusu told him that he would be relieved of the financial responsibility for the coming child.

“I merely wanted to be sure of the man responsible for the pregnancy. If she delivers safely, we shall take the child to our mother and be responsible for the upkeep,” she reportedly told him.

Angered by the rejection of his abortion request, Mr. Luka grabbed a machete and attacked the two women, killing Ms. Dusu instantly. Justina was also gravely injured, but she survived to deliver the unwanted baby a few weeks ago.

In an even more abominable and bizarre incident, a 24-year-old man, Godwin Banchir, has confessed to killing his 65-year-old mother, Saratu Banchir, for refusing to respond to his greetings!

Mr. Banchir, who confessed to committing the crime at their Fuskar-Mata village in Bassa Local Government, is also facing trial at a Jos High Court.

He has told the court that he used a stick to beat his mother till she collapsed.

“I used a stick to beat her, but I did not know that it will lead to her death,” he said.

Violence against women is on the rise in Plateau State, especially in the last year, according to the NGO, Christian Women for Excellence and Empowerment in Nigerian Society, CWEENS, which is keeping track of the attacks.

Comfort Zawaya, Senior Project Officer of the NGO, said in 2016, an observatory platform was set up by the National Stability and Reconciliation Programme, facilitated by CWEENS, to collate reports, make referrals and respond to gender issues in Plateau.

“The Observatory Steering Committee, made up of more than 23 stakeholders of state and non-state actors, recorded a number of 430 cases.

“The committee also recorded 123 rape cases out of which 80 per cent involved minors,” she said.

Mrs. Zawaya attributed the violence to the lack of tough laws to prosecute perpetrators of such acts, saying that the NGO had established a home for women and girls battered, raped or bedevilled by harmful widowhood practices.

The Secretary-General of WRAPA, Saudatu Mahdi, has spoken in the same vein and declared that government must take drastic measures to address the growing incidence of violence against women.

Worried by the rising violence against women in Plateau, the state’s chapter of the International Federation of Female Lawyers, FIDA, recently organised a rally to enlighten women on measures to eliminate violence.

Hashimu Nshi, FIDA chairperson in Plateau, told journalists that the rally, which was held inside Terminus Market, Jos, was to offer stakeholders the opportunity to examine the best legal options to curb the violence and secure the Plateau woman.

“Some women keep suffering in their husbands’ houses; Plateau’s situation is particularly bad. As I speak, we have lots of cases of violence against women at the courts,” she said.

The FIDA official said that the group was always willing to handle cases of violence against women and children, and called on those affected to come forward.

“Our focus is to ensure justice for every woman; whoever feels victimised should not hesitate to complain,” she said.

Tongnaan Bawa, Secretary, National Association of Women Journalist, NAWOJ, North-Central Zone, has also expressed concern over the rising cases of violence, and declared NAWOJ’s resolve to enlighten women to fight for their rights and report abuses to FIDA.

“Wife battering is on the rise in our society; women are human beings that need love and care.

“The beatings cause psychological and health effects on the woman and the children. Ultimately, the society is the loser because we raise children who witnessed such violence and grow up feeling that nothing is wrong with it,” she said.

For Garba Mancha, Social Welfare Officer of Jos South Local Government, the only solution to the problem is for women to promptly report “the slightest” abuse to the authorities, so as to avoid something worse.

“Not long ago, we arrested a 43-year-old evangelist, Christopher Sule, accused of torturing his two children, including his wife.

“The children’s teachers reported the matter to us. We checked the children, aged eight and six, and discovered that the father had persistently used cable wires to beat them. We found deep wounds on their bodies, but the mother kept defending her husband,” he said.

He expressed shock at the mother’s attitude, saying that curbing domestic violence would be difficult with such denials.

Peter Azi, Speaker, Plateau House of Assembly, said that the legislature is equally saddened by the rising violence against women, and was working towards enacting laws to tackle the menace.

“Currently, we are working on an executive bill for the establishment of a Plateau Penal Code. We have always used the Northern Nigeria penal code and most of the laws are not only archaic and obsolete, but do not address modern crimes.

“The provisions of the bill, if passed into law, will adequately protect women and children against any form of abuse. It contains very severe sanctions against any form of abuse,” he said

But Sarah Sani, a university lecturer, does not believe in the instrumentality of law alone.

She suggested the strengthening of women economically.

“We must strengthen the individual and collective abilities of women for positive action. Women empowerment will lead to a balanced partnership of both sexes, eliminate fallacies and check gender stereotypes,” the sociology lecturer said.

She said that raising the consciousness of women must be done through all the agents of socialisation starting from the family to the community, schools, churches and government.

Ambang James, Vice President, National Association of Plateau State Students, believes the number of women killed by aggressive men would be reduced if women were more careful when in love, noting that such emotional attachment makes them vulnerable.

“Women have a great capacity to love and men take advantage of that. Women do everything to please their loved ones, but instead of being loved in return, they get cheated and even killed,” she fumed.

Ms. James advised women to avoid aggressive men, and confide in friends or colleagues for possible advice, anytime they found themselves in abusive relationships.

But a psychologist, Azumi Sylvestre, said that the only remedy to abuse is for women to flee from violent lovers and avoid relationships that seem to hurt them.

“Women must open their eyes very wide and try to study the warning signs. They must avoid hot-tempered and very jealous men. Women should also avoid cruel and possessive men.

“They should also be very careful with men that are frustrated because they can vent that anger on anyone around at the slightest excuse,” she said.

However, violence against women is not peculiar to Plateau. It is a trend shared with some other northern states.

The Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi, has expressed deep concern over this.

Mr. Sanusi, who spoke at an interactive session organised by Women Rights Advancement and Protection Agency, WRAPA, declared that any society desirous of growth must be fair and just to its women.

“Islam abhors any form of maltreatment, injustice and discrimination against women; it is to protect women against such abuses that I have been canvassing for the promulgation of laws that will restrict violence against women via severe sanctions for culprits.

“Husbands must treat wives with respect and dignity in accordance with religious and traditional injunctions,” he said.

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