Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Avoiding Domestic Violence

It is yet the season of the year many see as one of love, caring and sharing. I am sure many of my readers have received greeting cards (printed and soft copies), hampers, salary bonuses, and other gifts from family, friends, employers and well-wishers. It is also the season of carols as various music cantatas are organised to celebrate God for His mercies and blessings over our lives and situations. Father Christmas grottos have also sprung up as children tax their parents to sponsor their visits to see Santa Claus for their own seasonal gifts. In this season also, homes and houses wear new look as they are decorated in preparation for the Christmas Day in celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.
Incidentally, it also a season of violence: both domestic and external. Externally, because it is a festive period, a lot of crimes and criminality also get committed. Bandits, rightly or wrongly, believe that a lot of people have money this season and make themselves unwanted guests at many homes where they forcefully demanded their share of the goodies. Those who do not want to take the trouble breaking into people’s homes waylay them on the roads, shopping malls, market places, relaxation spots, etc. Thus, as it is a season of celebration, it is also a time to be extra careful of night marauders and agents of terror whose sole aim is to wreak havoc.
My major concern is about the growing domestic violence which also peaks at this season of celebration. By domestic violence, I mean violence within the homes between spouses and among families. The manifestation of this comes in diverse ways. According to Wikipedia, “Domestic violence can take a number of forms including physical, emotional, verbal, economic and sexual abuse, which can range from subtle, coercive forms to marital rape and to violent physical abuse that result in disfigurement or death.”
Herein, I am not focusing on gender-based violence or violence against women. I’ve decided to concentrate on the entire family. Husband, wife, children and even the extended families. My simple reason being that much as it is good and noble to stop gender-based violence, it will not be comprehensive or holistic enough. Let’s stop domestic violence altogether whether against women, men, or children. I said earlier that domestic violence peaks during this season; how do I mean?
Families undergo a lot of financial pressures during this period. Many social events are fixed for the months leading to December as that is the time many workers take their annual leave and go on vacation to see friends and families. It also coincides with the harvest season for farmers so there is plenty of food and cash after sales of farm produce.
Furthermore, because the rains would have receded or totally gone then people can have their marriages, burials, chieftaincy coronations, harvest bazaars, house warming and other celebrations without disturbance from the weather.
What am I driving at with all these analogies? Invitations to the aforementioned events are not without strings attached. Open or subtle demands for financial and material supports often accompany these invitations. By our tradition and customs, we are usually our brothers’ keepers. So, we contribute monies to support the celebrants, buy “Aso ebi” (identification apparels with the celebrants) and also travel to attend. Many a time, the entire family compulsorily has to buy the “Aso ebi”. These cost a lot and place financial stress on many families. If these social functions take place close to Christmas, for Christians, this becomes additional financial burden as family members will demand clothes, shoes, special menu, outing to relaxation and recreational spots, visit to friends, colleagues and extended family members, all these have financial implications, even if you’re the one to host visitors.
Ironically, Christmas is one week apart from the New Year celebration. Thus, while we have yet to recover from the heavy expenses incurred attending the several social functions of the past few weeks, demands are made for preparations for the New Year merriment.
This season of celebrations is not pocket-friendly as it leaves a deep hole in many pouches. As if that is not bad enough, schools resume barely a week after the celebrations and fees and tuitions have to be paid.
Take it or leave it, this is the vicious circle many of us have been living through. How does this then translate to domestic violence? Economists say human needs are infinite but the means of meeting them are finite. Thus, a family with very limited financial and material resources will experience tension and violence in the homes when they fail to meet up to intra and interfamily demands as well as societal standards of being good, responsible and supportive. For instance, if a man cannot meet his family’s physiological needs of providing food, clothing, shelter, education, health care, such a family head will be ridiculed not only by the society but by even members of his immediate family. Such a man cannot earn or command the respect of his wife and children.
This will brew hatred, loss of self-esteem, assault, battery, psychological violence and all what not.
So what is the way out? How do we avoid domestic violence? Men as the head of the family need to apply wisdom in managing their homes. They need to communicate effectively with their wives, children and extended families.
They should shorn themselves of pretenses and make their families sincerely realise why they could not meet their demands. They need to plan with their wives on how best to apply their limited resources. Many women are good managers of resources and know how to make the best of little. Spouses also need to understand and learn how to cope with each other’s weaknesses and strengths. Both spouses and indeed children are duty bearers.
Therefore, spouses and their children need to seek and find amicable ways of resolving their issues. Domestic violence is avoidable and should be greatly desired. All it needs are mutual understanding, patience, prudence, tolerance, prayer and effective communication.
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