In Africa, Wife-Beatings an Entrenched Epidemic


Women suffer from domestic violence in every society. In few places, however, is the abuse more entrenched and accepted than in sub-Saharan Africa, reports the New York Times. In Zambia, nearly half of women surveyed said a male partner had beaten them, according to a 2004 study financed by the United States. In South Africa, researchers for the Medical Research Council estimated last year that a male partner kills a girlfriend or spouse every six hours. In Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, domestic violence accounts for more than 6 in 10 murder cases in court, a United Nations report concluded last year. One in three Nigerian women reported having been physically abused by a male partner, according to the latest study.

The wife of the deputy governor of a northern Nigerian province told reporters last year that her husband beat her incessantly, in part because she watched television movies. One of President Olusegun Obasanjo’s appointees to a national anticorruption commission was allegedly killed by her husband in 2000, two days after she asked the state police commissioner to protect her. “It is like it is a normal thing for women to be treated by their husbands as punching bags,” Obong Rita Akpan, until last month Nigeria’s minister for women’s affairs, said. “The Nigerian man thinks that a woman is his inferior. Right from childhood, right from infancy, the boy is preferred to the girl. Even when they marry out of love, they still think the woman is below them and they do whatever they want.”


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