The Prevalence of violence against women in Nigeria Socio-cultural Context


Background to the study

Violence against women is a global problem which has recently attracted attention internationally; it affects women of various classes and ages. It is viewed as one of the most widespread and common ill against women with a number of causes and consequences for women at all levels and categories who are being subjected to it. Violence against women is regarded more as a human right issue which affects the socio-cultural and economic fabric of a society. On the international scene, the problem of violence against women has been noted to be a complex phenomenon which might not be easily defined. It is assumed to cover such areas as violence within the family, sexual abuse, physical assault, verbal abuse, emotion and psychological torment, forced prostitution and a host of others. (United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), 2001)


Violation against the integrity of women such as various harmful practices like female genital mutilation is also regarded as a form of violence against women. Since violence against women occurs in various forms and measures in various societies, it is therefore suggested that the phenomenon is better explained within a given context. Thus, in this study the term “violence against women” means any act of gender – based violence which is likely to have a negative physical, biological or psychological impact on women whether young or adult. It is also conceptualized as a multifaceted scourge and its impact on women of various age cohorts.

World Health Organization (WHO) (1998) stated that violence against women is worldwide and cuts across cultural, geographic, religious and socio-economic boundaries. Smith (2012) also stated that about half a million women worldwide die yearly from causes related to violence. The report illustrated that women who experience violence during pregnancy are at a risk of miscarriage and low – birth weight babies than women who does not. According to Harry (2008), the problem of violence against women remains endemic in all countries and regions and prevails despite series actions taken to prevent and eliminate it

Violence against women is “an extensive human rights abuse” across Europe. According to the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) (2014) in a survey on the extent of violence against women across the European Union, one in three women across the EU report having experienced some form of physical or sexual abuse since the age of 15. The EU-wide survey was based on 42,000 in-person interviews with a randomly selected sample of women across the 28 EU member states. Women were asked about their experiences of physical, sexual and psychological violence, including incidents of intimate partner violence (domestic violence), and also asked about stalking, sexual harassment, and the role played by new technologies in women’s experiences of abuse.


The report found that one in 10 women had experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 15, and one in 20 had been raped. One in five women have experienced some form of stalking since the age of 15, with 5% having experienced it in the 12 months preceding the survey. However, three out of four stalking cases reported in the survey never come to the attention of the police. One in 10 women has been stalked by a previous partner. Of women in the survey who indicate they have been raped by their current partner, about one third (31%) say they have experienced six or more incidents of rape by their partner. Just over one in 10 women experienced some form of sexual violence by an adult before they were 15. According to the survey most violence is carried out by a current or former partner, with 22% of women in relationships reporting partner abuse.


A study was conducted by Yusuf (2000/2001) on the incidence and dimension of violence against women in the Nigeria Society: A case study of Ilorin Township. The subject for the study consisted of 136 women selected from various parts of the metropolis, through a combination of clustering and random sampling methods. A questionnaire was administered to the selected sample to find out factors responsible for the incidence of violence against women and the general attitude of women towards the act as well as the implications to the victims, the family and the larger society. Findings from the study revealed that a large proportion of the respondents reported that they experienced wide-range of violence and that in general men are held responsible for most of the violent acts committed against women.


Oyediran and Isiugo-Abanihe (2005) examined women’s perceptions of wife beating. The data were derived from the 2003 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS). Both descriptive and analytical methods were used to assess the net effects of socio-demographic factors on women’s perceptions of domestic violence. The study demonstrated that a large percentage of Nigerian women agreed that a man is justified in beating or hitting his wife; 66.4% and 50.4% of ever-married and unmarried women respectively expressed consent for wife beating. Respondents’ approval of wife beating or abuse varied by personal attributes such as ethnic affiliation, level of education, place of residence, wealth index and frequency of listening to radio. It is against this background that the study tends to investigate Prevalence violence against women in Nigeria




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