- Federal Minister Aisha Alhassan
"Nothing is an offence which does not amount to the infliction of... grievous hurt upon a person and which is done (d) by a husband for the purpose of correcting his wife."
-Section 55 (1) (d) of the Penal Code Act, Nigeria
At minimum, every fourth woman in Nigeria has experienced domestic violence.
Nigeria’s Penal Code allows this violence to be legal.
In Nigeria, domestic violence statistics are buried under layers of other data. Attempts to create and enforce laws to assist women suffering from domestic violence tend to be pushed away until they fade into the background. Rapes, acid attacks and fatal wife beatings still do not seem to be enough for people to recognize abuse and suppression of women and take action.
In a country where domestic violence towards women is still legal, full gender equality is a myth. Not only is physical violence socially acceptable towards women, but sexual, emotional and mental abuse are considered acceptable to ‘discipline’ a woman. Common forms of violence are rape, acid attacks, wife beating, and corporal punishment. When a woman is treated without respect like this, she begins to truly believe that she deserves to be treated like she is worthless.
We need to take action immediately to stop this abuse from being legally committed. In fact, this law is a violation of Nigeria’s own constitution. It is essential that we stand up to change these cruel views and actions towards women. By making domestic violence illegal, many citizens will realize how wrong domestic violence actually is. Women will be able to receive help and keep themselves safe from abusive spouses. Lives will be positively impacted, even saved. Help women stand up for themselves, and help stop domestic violence in Nigeria.
*Additionally, we found that these abusive problems were blamed on the country’s religion (ex. “Muslim-majority countries”, “Sikh population”, etc.) while in truth, religion is no excuse for these crimes and most of these religions are known for being very peaceful. The criminals are hiding behind their religion in a way, and religion is no excuse for beating your spouse.
The Honourable Aisha Alhassan, Federal Minister of Women Affairs,
(Number of signatures) activists from around the world bring to your attention today the law found in Section 55 (1) (d) of Nigeria’s Penal Code Act authorizing domestic violence towards women. On March 8th, 2017, a petition was initiated on ‘gopetition.com’ to have this law removed from Nigeria’s Penal Code, and we received (number of signatures) signatures from activists around the globe. We strongly believe that gender equality is essential in order for women to reach their full potential, and we feel that a law such as this which enables men to degrade and disempower women is a violation of women’s fundamental human rights.
As you know, in Section 55 (1) (d) of Nigeria’s Penal Code Act, you can find the following law: “Nothing is an offence which does not amount to the infliction of... grievous hurt upon a person and which is done (d) by a husband for the purpose of correcting his wife, such husband and wife being subject to any customary law in which the correction is recognized as lawful.” However, the United Nations defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.” As Nigeria is an active member of the United Nations, we request that Nigeria follow the United Nations’ no-tolerance principles on domestic violence. Furthermore, the Constitution of Nigeria, Article 17, states that “(1) The State social order is founded on ideals of Freedom, Equality, and Justice,” and “(2) (a) Every citizen shall have equality of rights, obligations and opportunities before the law.” Additionally, the Constitution states in Article 34 “(1) Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person and accordingly - (a) No person shall be subject to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment.” We feel that Section 55 (1) (d) violates these sections of the Constitution, as this law is unequal and degrading towards women. Many countries have recognized domestic abuse as violence towards women and have outlawed it as a result, and we request for Nigeria to do the same.
We ask you to eliminate Section 55 (1) (d) of Nigeria’s Penal Code Act and classify domestic violence under the same definition as all other kinds of physical assault. We look to protect women of Nigeria who are victims of domestic abuse, and we believe that by removing this law, women will be safer from abusive spouses and can receive the help needed to recover from domestic abuse. Nigerian women deserve to be treated equally to men, and an individual's human rights do not deserve to be ignored by anyone, including by their spouses.
Thank you for taking the time to consider our proposal, and we appreciate all that you do to protect and empower the women of Nigeria. We look forward to hearing from you soon.
(Number of signatures) activists of ‘gopetition.com’
The ILLEGALIZE ALL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN NIGERIA! petition to Federal Minister Aisha Alhassan was written by Brynne Takhar and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.