Breaking Silence on Spousal Battery during Covid-19 Pandemic Era: A Case Study of Lagos State, Nigeria
Spousal battery is generally considered the commonest form of domestic violence. It is a form of physical assault involving the use of force, violence or threat of violence against one’s spouse. The study attempts to provide an analysis on the prevalence and impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on spousal battery during the lockdown, and the challenges confronting mediation and administration of criminal justice of spousal battery in Lagos State. The study examines the record of reported cases made through the telephone helpline during the lockdown. The study also adopted the purposive sampling method to capture respondents for the key informant interview (KII) conducted. Results show prevalence and steady increase of spousal battery during the lockdown. While men were also victims of spousal battery, women were however potentially more victims. Among the major challenges confronting mediation and administration of criminal justice in cases of spousal battery are underreporting and under prosecution associated with a myriad of problems accounting for adjournment and withdrawal of cases in court. Following this, the study recommends that society should exhibit zero tolerance to spousal battery. Law enforcement agencies like the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), the Court, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the media should champion the promotion of public sensitization and awareness of the laws prohibiting the crime, encourage victims to speak out, report the crime to appropriate authorities and assist victims to press for legal charges in court. Government should also show more commitment in decongesting the Domestic Violent Court and Citizen’s Mediation Centre of civil cases like spousal battery and the provision of free treatment, as well as counseling and rehabilitation, to victims.
Keywords: Breaking Silence, Spousal Battery, Covid-19, Pandemic Era, Lagos State.