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This study focused on investigating the Perceptions of the Forms and Effects of spousal violence on women’s health in Zaria Communities of Kaduna State, Nigeria. The study was conducted in four communities within Zaria. The objectives were to identify and describe the forms of spousal violence on women’s health; explore the nature and prevalence of spousal violence on women’s health; examine factors that enhances spousal violence on women’s health; identify the effects of spousal violence on women’s health; strategies adopted by victims to cope with spousal violence and recommending ways of mitigating the incidence of spousal violence on women’s health. Liberal Feminist Theory served as the theoretical framework for this study with its basic assumptions that: as the dominant class, men have differential access to material and symbolic resources thus women are devalued as secondary and inferior; intimate partner abuse is a predictable and common dimension of normal family life; women’s experiences are often defined as inferior because male dominance influences all aspects of life. Information was derived from a sample of 186 respondents of age 10- 30 years and above, four in-depth interviews and three focus group discussions were conducted. The findings revealed that, spousal violence exist in the community with the most common forms as Sexual Assault 30 %( 55) and Spouse Battering 22 %( 41). As a consequence, its victims suffer effects like bruises/injuries 54 %( 100), swollen body parts and stress related injuries 52 %( 96). Findings also show that, factors that enhance spousal violence include age of marriage, how marriages are concluded and socioeconomic status. In addition, findings showed that reasons for the existence of spousal violence leading to poor health status of women were attributed to poverty, non-challant attitudes of spouse, and disobedience among couple. As a coping mechanism, the findings revealed some respondents tend to have very interactive relationships with their children, isolate themselves, become depressed, others accepted their situations and turn to God in prayers. The respondents recommended that: perpetrators must face the law; prayers should be implored; counseling and dialogue should be implemented; cases of spousal violence should be reported on time to parents and community leaders.



1.1   Background to the Study

The welfare and status of women reflect the conditions of their countries. The objective of this study is to provide information about ways and means available to improve the social well-being and health status of women and the girl-child.

Spousal violence is a term that covers a range of violent or abusive behaviors perpetrated within the context of the family or intimate relationship which could be physical or verbal. For example, marital abuse is a form of spousal violence perpetrated within the context of an intimate relationship by one’s partner over one, at the detriment of one’s happiness and good health. It has synonyms like wife beating and intimate partner abuse. Although, this is a serious issue plaguing the health status of women, there is paucity of data on spousal violence, principally because it is underreported. As a matter of fact, most popular and academic literature have focused extensively on issues connected with the women's liberation movement; the fight for equality and freedom of speech, and neglected spousal violence, sexual violence perpetrated against women and their health status. In Nigeria, marital abuse has become a scourge and there is a report that 50% of Nigerian women have been battered by their husbands at one time or the other (NaijaGist.com, 2012)

From a sociological point of view, domestic violence could be defined as a pattern of abusive behaviors used by one individual intended to exert power and control over another individual in the context of an intimate relationship such as marriage, dating, family, friends or co-habitation. Spousal violence is maintained by societal and cultural attitudes, institution, and laws that are not consistent in regarding this violence as wrong. Moreover, awareness, perception and documentation of forms of spousal violence differ from country to country, and from era to era, since spousal violence may or may not constitute a crime, depending on local status, severity, and duration of specific acts. Other variables such as alcohol consumption" substance intake and mental illness are also frequently associated with abuse (Abama and Kwaja, 2009).

The Inter-African Committee on traditional practices affecting the health of women and children (1995) stated that most women accept violence against themselves because of social prejudice and their low self-esteem. The perpetuation of Spousal violence against Women has continued due to women’s economic dependence on men, patriarchy and the differential socialization process women pass through (Pallitio and Ocampo, 2004, Heise et al., 1999, Nhloyi, 1996; Kurta, 1989).

As a matter of fact, spousal violence against women by their male partners is widely accepted by many African societies because of their beliefs that men are superior, the women under them are regarded as their possessions, and can be treated as the men considered appropriate (Kerige, 1995, VAWA, 2011). In Nigeria where this study is been carried out, it has been observed that spousal violence against women is not only widespread; it is also socially acceptable as in the case of the whole Africa (Stawarth, 1995). In addition, in Nigeria as in the Filipino culture, the main perceived domain of women is the home, where women are viewed mainly as mothers, wives, care-givers or daughters and this has eaten deep into some cultures in Nigeria (Carths, 1994). And the fact that there is usually no-intervention of, or coming up of most witnesses and victims present when such violence is committed against women, to testify against such incidence, demonstrates a clear social permissibility of spousal violence against women.

Irrespective of the fact that, there has been explicit acknowledgement of the state’s responsibility for human rights’ violation by private actors in both public and private spheres in several international conventions, in particular the Vienna Accord of 1993 and the Beijing platform of 1995, spousal violence against women remains highly prevalent and is still a major cultural blind sport (Aderinto, 2003). This study, therefore aims at investigating the prevalence, forms and effects of spousal violence on women’s health in Zaria communities of Kaduna State, Nigeria.

1.2   Statement of the Research Problem

In Zaria, what is commonly observed as far as domstic violence is concerned is spousal battering. Among the Hausas, who form the majority of the ethnic groups, the girls are married at very tender ages. These girls are not free to talk about their marriage lives and experiences. They are not allowed to go to the hospital without their husbands' permission. Even when they are not being well treated at home, their culture and tradition does not encourage them to speak about it. Women here are more or less treated as domestic servants especially those who have never gone to school. Interestingly, in a conversation between two men and the researcher, these men shared similar opinions by saying that, their wives are meant to do just whatever they ordered them to do, and these women do not have any rights whatsoever to dispute. Also, some house helps suffer violence at home either from their masters and madams or from their children.

In the typical indigenous Zaria Communities, many husbands do not seek their wives' opinions in decision making even in matters pertaining to home affairs or the wives themselves. In the Zaria Communities, there is a lot of silence as far as spousal violence against women is concerned. Spousal violence is yet to be properly addressed in developing countries. Violence at home is regarded as nothing. Those in polygamous families have no rights to refuse having sexual intercourse with their husbands. The standard for this is that, the husband is expected to understand either when she says she is sick or she is in her menstrual period. Yet some husbands will not want to understand even when she happens not to be in the right physical state for sex. Sexual intercourse is a routine, where every woman has a week to perform her sexual duties. Even when the man could be ill, the woman is expected to mate with him because she could be punished according to tradition if she refuses. A woman who violates the rules, is regarded disrespectful and will be punished accordingly (Naseehah-An, 2008).
Apart from the physical dangers, the psychosocial consequences of violence are also grave. Victims are more likely to adopt other mechanisms in order to cope. They cannot leave or complain because if they do, their community will see them as failures and they will not be respected. Secondly, victims lack the courage and support from very close relatives to better address the issue. For women within the Zaria Communities, they turn to adopt strategies for dealing with violence they face, ranging from leaving the aggressor, accepting the violence or resorting to self-defense or staying quiet about it. Within the Zaria Communities, it was observed by the researcher that, some women did not acquired formal education; are tired from repeated childbearing and economical dependency (Fawole et al, 2005).

Research suggests that, physical violence in intimate relationships like the case we are investigating is often accompanied by other types of violence. Zimmerman and Watts (2002) reported that, perpetrators or the beneficiaries of spousal violence against women were largely 30-40 years old men whom have been married for over 5 years. Other researchers observed that, some men use violence against their wives, especially when such men want their wives to leave or divorce the marriage. This is a frequent occurrence especially when such men are seeing other women outside their matrimonial homes. And this is very true in our contemporary African society where the women in tend to protect their homes condone and accept all forms of maltreatments from their partners to the detriment of their health status and self­esteem.

Spousal violence against women’s health causes human suffering, impediments to personal development and reduction in the contribution women can make to the lives of others if they were free of such ill treatments and health hazards. There is no way a victim of spousal violence will properly take care of her home, children, work and all that concerns her. Some victims of spousal violence face varying degree of trauma and psychological torture that goes a long way to destroy her health physically and mentally. And as a result spousal violence against women hinders them to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Spousal violence against women’s health has negative effect on women as a whole because it is somewhat related to their reproductive health since it occurs in connection with transmission of deadly diseases including HIV/AIDS, syphilis (that prohibits fertility), pregnancy and delivery or with fertility and sexuality. And as the researcher earlier observed, Heise (1993) added that, the fear of violence keeps women submissive to male decision-making. He continued that, quite a lot of women in their efforts to avoid violence accepts insults and misery or flee from the marriage, relationship, affair or intimacy.

The concept of the perceptions of the forms and effects of spousal violence on women’s health refers to a phenomenon related to biological reproduction and processes, inducing not only health problem related to reproduction itself, but also those related to the exercise of sexuality, physical assaults, prevention of undesired pregnancy and others (Stem, 1993). No doubt violence against women has been generally accepted as “understandable behavior” with patriarchy leading credence to it through the continuous perpetuation of male dominance (Dickstein, 1988)

Beside the determinants, forms and effects of spousal violence against women in Nigeria, Zaria, and women in particular, its consequences on health, are yet to be established. There is much that remains to be understood about the total set of possible health outcomes associated with spousal violence against women especially in developing countries.

Though studies have been conducted in developed countries on violence against women to highlight its implications for development in these developed countries, it has become a major tropical issue in modern development for developing countries (Oyediran and Isiugo-Abanihe, 2005).
Spousal violence against women is a universal issue and differs only in scope from one society to another. Available statistics from around the globe indicate that one out of every three women have experienced violence in an intimate relationship at some point in her life (Che and Cleland, 2004).
On the same note, spousal violence against women and all forms of violence against women is recognized as a violation against human rights. As early as 1984, the universal declaration of human rights adopted by the United Nation General Assembly identified spousal violence against women as an abuse that threatens the security of women and their fundamental rights to life and liberty, as well as freedom from fear and want (Che and Cleland, 2004). The fact that, spousal violence against women and girls has long been considered a “private affair,” has contributed to the serious gap in public health policy making and the lack of appropriate programs. Women for fear of inability to refuse sex or negotiate for safe sexual practices, are thus, probably exposed to agents of infections including the Human Immune-Deficiency virus/Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, gonorrhea. It is now clear from literature that the nature and incidence of violence against women, as well as its forms and effects on women’s health is a global issue, but differing in scope. The present study focused on this, using the Zaria women of Kaduna State, Nigeria as a case study.

Though, violence against women is a major threat to social and economic development and it is the most pervasive violations of human rights existing in all societies on a continuum from violence perpetrated by an intimate partner to violence as a weapon of war. The Millennium Declaration of September 2000, in which the General Assembly of the United Nations resolved to combat all forms of violence against women and to implement the convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against women, has pledged recognition (United Nations, 2005: 12). This violence is intimately associated with complex social condition such as poverty, lack of education, gender inequality, child mortality, and maternal ill-health.

However, violence against women is not highlighted in either the targets or the indicators in the goals set up to guide the implementation of the Millennium Declaration. And violence against women takes many forms, from the overt to the subtle.

1.3     Research Questions

The observed problem of spousal violence on women's health makes us ask the following questions, which the researcher is investigating:

1.    Are there cases of spousal violence within the Zaria Communities?

2.    What are the reasons for the occurrences of spousal violence within the Zaria Communities?

3.    What impact does spousal violence have on women's health?

4.      What are the manifestations of victims of spousal violence?

5.    Will appropriate sanctions on men, husbands by the state, stop them from wife beating and maltreating women?

6.    What measures should be put in place to educate, husbands who mistreat their wives?

1.4      Objectives of the Study

The aim of this study is to improve on the understanding of the nature and prevalence of spousal violence against women, identifying the acts, forms and effects on their health, while the Specific Objectives are:

1.     To Identify and describe the forms of spousal violence found within the Zaria Communities.

2.     To explore the nature and prevalence of spousal violence on women’s health.

3.     To examine causal factors of spousal violence on women’s health.

4.     To examine the effects of spousal violence on victims’ physical health.

5.     To find out the strategies adopted by victims to avoid or cope with spousal violence on women’s health.

6.     To make recommendations on ways of mitigating, the incidence of spousal violence on women’s health.

1.5    Significance of the Study

The issue of spousal violence is rooted in the socio-cultural complexes of various societies in the world. As a result, it is not limited to only the women in Zaria and Nigeria. And base on the nurture-nature debate, women are somewhat regarded as the weaker sex while men the most powerful sex having total control over the women. Though there are exceptions based on biological features in both genders. On the same note, while religion encourages both sexes to see themselves as equals with guidelines of women being a support to the men, ethnicity defines specific roles for each sex. For example while the women are regarded as care-givers, the men are seen as resource providers. Thus, this study is worth conducting, as the effects of spousal violence on women's health based on the relationship that exists within the family- may reveal greater knowledge as regards patterns of spousal violence as against some past studies on spousal violence.

This study is significant, as it goes beyond just the existence of spousal violence to investigate how it affects women's health. This study differs from previous studies in that, in contrast to previous studies like the work by Kantor. P. 1996, "The Impact of Spousal violence against Women", it would rely on primary data got from the respondents themselves. This is in line with one of the basic tenets of the uses and gratification theory which states that "secondary analysis of survey data does not usually permit the researcher to understand the motives of respondents directly unless specific open-ended probes or checklists of motivations (in form of questions) are included in the questionnaire".

The issue of spousal violence and its forms and effects on women's health is one that has occupied the front burner in both circles of academic and the health care professionals in the public health sector. Thus, the findings from this study have provided more information on tackling spousal violence and improving on the health status of women. In the same light, contribute to scientific literature and will assist those working in other government sectors such as education, child welfare, social care, criminal justice, department of gender equality; advocates for the prevention of spousal violence on women’s health, for example nongovernmental organizations;clocal authorities; environmental and urban planners and researchers.

1.6   Scope of the Study

This study was limited to identifying the forms and effects of spousal violence on women's health, circumstances around violent episodes and how it impact negatively on the women's health, and coping mechanisms used by victims. The study was conducted among the women in Zaria communities. For fast, correct and easy data collection, housewives, petite-traders, career women, female children, within the Zaria communities were targeted. It is important to keep in mind that, this study has reported data of perceived abuse by the respondents only. No information was obtained from other sources except from husbands, neighbors, family members and community members who confirmed being aware of the discord and were opened to help the research team identified victims for the research.

Worthy of note is the fact that, Zaria Community is a patriarchal community, where the men are in position of decision making both at home and at the work places. There is the paramount need for the women to be effectively and efficiently consulted, before enacting or drawing conclusions on issues that will affect them.

A researcher observed that, men and women alike are creatures with equal rights and obligations as well as same brain size. Most women in developing countries go tired after few deliveries, some even at forty still bear children when they can hardly care for them adequately (Giddens, 2005). All these impact negatively on the physical well-being of the woman; many have been warned by doctors not to go in again for children because of one complication or the other. But due to the polygamous nature of men, they turn to go for as many women as possible, thus an unhealthy woman is not really an issue to some men since they can always go for as many women as possible provided they can afford them (Ngeve, 2007).

1.7   Definition of Terms

Abusive behavior: These behaviors may include: verbal assaults, threats, intimidation, physical assaults, the use of weapons, destruction of property, abuse of pets and violence toward significant people like children.

Community: A community is made up of a group of people living within a well defined geographical region, sharing a great feeling of social solidarity, equality, and togetherness within a given period of time and space. For example, the community we studied is the Zaria community.

Domestic violence: It describes the violence that takes place in the home between family members, especially adults. It could be very interactive, passive, jovial, relaxed or quarrelsome.

Family: A group of individuals related to one another by blood ties, marriage, or adoption, which forms an economic unit, of which the adult members are responsible for the upbringing of children. All known societies involve some form of family system, although the nature of family relationships varies widely. While in modern societies the main family forms are the nuclear family, and the extended family.

Family abuse: This means any act of violence, including any forceful detention, which results in physical injury or places one in reasonable apprehension of serious bodily injury and which is committed by a person against such person’s family or household member; or any act which causes a family or household member to engage involuntarily in sexual activity by force, threat of force or duress.

Intimate relationship: This means a relationship between two adults intended to provide emotional and/or physical intimacy. Spousal violence does not discriminate; men and women can be the abuser or the abused though in this study our focus is on men as the perpetrators and women the victims of spousal violence. Abuse can and does occur in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships, yet our objective in this study is to investigate how, why, what forms and effects of abuse on women’s health occur in heterosexual relationships.

Pattern: In spousal violence, patterns are referred to more than one isolated incident of violence. These incidents can include a wide variety of abusive behaviors that often increase in frequency and intensity.

Physical health/Health: This is relative to physical fitness. Physically healthy or healthy refers to the ability of the human body to function with vigor and alertness, without undue fatigue, and with ample energy to engage in leisure activities, and to meet physical stresses. This is usually measured in relation to functional expectations - that is, endurance, strength, agility, coordination, and flexibility and how the individual can accommodate stressors. The physical health of an individual can be influenced resulting to either positive results or negative consequences as we shall study in this research.

Physical violence: According to World Health Organization(2010), “Physical violence means a woman has been: slapped, or had something thrown at her; pushed, and had her hair pulled; bit with a fist or something else that could hurt; choked or burnt; threatened with or had a weapon used against her.” Sexual violence means a woman has been: physically forced to have sexual intercourse; had sexual intercourse because she was afraid of what her partner might do; or forced to do something sexual she found degrading or humiliating.

Emotional violence: Though recognized as a serious and pervasive problem “emotional violence” does not yet have a widely accepted definition, but includes, for example, being humiliated, or belittled; scared or intimidated purposefully. Finally “intimate partner violence (also called “domestic” violence which is the area of concern for this study) means a woman has encountered any of the above types of violence, at the hands of an intimate partner or ex-partner; this is one of the most common and universal forms of violence experienced by women.

Women: In this study, woman or women referred to female adult (an adult female human being); women as groups (women collectively or in general); femininity (feminine qualities or feelings); domestic employee (a woman who is a domestic

employee, though this term sometimes sounds very offensive); wife or girl-friend (a wife, female lover, or girl-friend (informal term). The women under study are married, widows, into relationships or have been betrothed, and should fall under ages of twenty and above except otherwise with respect to age range.

1.8. Synopsis of Later Chapters

This document once again, aims to provide sufficient information for researchers, social workers, community project managers, policy-makers and planners to develop data-driven and evidence-based programmes for preventing the forms and effects of spousal violence on women’s health. It is divided into the following chapters:

        Chapter 1 outlines the nature, magnitude and consequences of the forms and effects of spousal violence on women’s health in Zaria communities within the broader typology of violence.

        Chapter 2 identifies the risk and protective factors for such violence, the importance of addressing both the risk and protective factors in prevention efforts and the theoretical framework adopted for the study.

        Chapter 3 summarizes the scientific evidence base on which the research was conducted dealing with methodology employed during the study.

        Chapter 4 presents the findings on the perceptions and views of respondents on the forms and effects of spousal violence on women’s health, framework for taking action, generating evidence and sharing result based on findings from the objectives of the study.

In the closing section, several future research priorities are outlined and a number of key conclusions drawn.

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