Governor Ortom and his shameful normalization of domestic violence [Pulse Editor’s Opinion]

Governor Ortom approached a sensitive issue like intimate partner violence with a demeanour of normalization.

Dear Governor Ortom, you should be ashamed of your attitude to domestic violence. [PM News]

She said, “Hello people, my name is Ifeanyi Angbo. I’m a doctor and I’ve been married to Pius Angbo of Channels Television for six years. And for six years, I’ve not known peace. It’s been from one girl to a different one. I simply had a child from a caesarean part nearly 4 weeks in the past.

“I advise him to spend wisely and not spend on women so recklessly since we have four children and they have to be trained. I’m calling him out. He works with Channels TV. He is from Benue State.

“I thought I got married to a fellow human being. Though I saw a paper where he wrote a prayer request… Even before getting married, I stumbled on the paper where he wrote that “thank God for saving him from hatred and abuse of women.” Obviously, he’s still on.

Mrs. Angbo went ahead to narrate an episode of where her husband sat on her pregnant stomach and beat her.

After the video went viral on social media, Channels Television responded on Twitter that, “Channels Television does not condone violence against women or anyone in general. The domestic violence matter reported against one of our reporters is being investigated and appropriate action will be taken.”

On Monday, December 7, news broke that Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom had invited the couple for a tete-a-tete, during which he supposedly ‘settled’ a case of domestic violence.

Apparently, he feels saving a marriage is more important than the life of a Medical Doctor with four children in a country that constantly experiences brain drain in its medical sector. He also seemed to assume that a promise of ‘I’ll never beat my wife again’ is sufficient to prevent further abuse from Angbo.

Ortom said, “We have resolved all issues. This family is barely six years with four kids. Angbo himself has distinguished himself in journalism and the wife is a medical doctor with Benue State government at the teaching hospital. We felt for a young couple of six years, they must be encouraged instead of trying to separate them.

“Some of us are not also innocent. As young couple, we underwent some of these challenges in our marriage life and that is why when I had the unfortunate incident, I have to call the two of them with some of my cabinet members to assist me so that we can mediate and thank God we have done the mediation as older personalities who are more experienced in marriage like myself.

“I’m over 40 years of marriage life so I have the capacity and I have children, I have grandchildren. I would like these younger ones too to grow. As far as I am concerned, I will not live forever and it is important to mentor younger people to also grow. The work I am doing today as a father, tomorrow they will follow my footsteps to do for other younger generation.

Governor Ortom suffers from the ‘Nigerian parent syndrome.’

Nigerian parents would happily watch their daughters trapped in a worthless, loveless marriage instead of encouraging a divorce. Society is hard enough for women and for years, a lot of women have bought into the idea of staying in abusive marriages.

What Governor Ortom has successfully sent out is a tacit message to abusive men that it’s okay to abuse your partner, if you can apologize before an ‘older Nigerian’ after the fact. Governor Ortom is not only ignorant, he is insensitive. He is a dire representation of the patriarchal decay in the Nigerian society.

He is a microcosm of the chasm in the Nigerian thought pattern that relates to the predicament of women. It also looks like Governor Ortom is more concerned with preserving the interests of a journalist than protect a woman.

While Natural Law principles might obtain in other areas of the law as regards offences, the John Austin-led principle of Positivism must always obtain in cases of domestic violence. Anybody who is ‘man enough’ to abuse his partner must be man enough to take the punishment attached to it.

No abuser of women should ever be freed after consistent or even simple instances of domestic violence because abuse is habitual for abusive men. Science has proven that abusive men are built that way either unresolved issues as regards women or because they feel a need to overcompensate for their masculinity.

As revealed by his wife, Angbo previously confessed to hating and abusing women, yet he is still here. There is an established pattern to his behaviour. If a man can beat a new mother who gave birth via caesarean section to that extent, then he should be jailed.

Some instances of science have also linked instances of consistent domestic violence to subtle hints of mental illness because the average human being isn’t naturally disposed to dishing out deadly blows on women.

Let’s forget science for a minute, abuse of women is intrinsically linked to age-old principles of patriarchy that see women as subservient to men.

For years, this idea has put women in severely disadvantaged positions. The fact is, people like Angbo don’t stop their cases of consistent abuse because they say they will. Abuse is part of them and it’s how they exert their masculinity. What Governor Ortom has done is potentially put a woman back into a marriage that could kill her.

He has also guilt-tripped and virtue-signaled Mrs. Ortom back into the trappings of a marriage that could end at the cost of her life. It’s also quite amazing that Ortom said, “...Some of us are not also innocent. As young couple, we underwent some of these challenges in our marriage life…”

It looks like Governor Ortom thinks that abuse is something people outgrow.

On popular forum, Quora, Kate Bekei responded to a question as regards domestic abuse in 2018 thus: "Having been married to an abuser, I can tell you that their actions are deliberate and thought out, and that they will never change, ever."

In 2018, BMC Women’s Health reported that, “Previous studies from Nigeria have shown the prevalence of intimate partner violence range from 31 to 61% for psychological/emotional violence, 20 to 31% for sexual violence, and 7 to 31% for physical violence.

Intimate partner violence is not something to be chalked up to youthful exuberance. It is willful violence on a fellow human being of another gender, who is not as physically strong. Governor Ortom approached a sensitive issue like intimate partner violence with a demeanour of normalization.

Everyday, Nigerian families sit down on stools of elderliness while drinking non-premium liquor and eating kolanut to settle instances of domestic violence.

Still, Nigerian women die at the hands of abusive partners and husbands everyday. You only have to visit the Metro news sections on Pulse Nigeria and Punch Nigeria to see that.

When women are not dead, they go through life with the subconscious effects of decades of psychological and physical abuse from their so-called partners and even random men on the street.

The effect of this is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder which makes women normalize the abuse and pass it down to younger women, creating a cycle of generational problems.

An April 2018 research paper by Ruth Abiola Adimula and Ignatius Nnamdi Ijere projects that, “Women in a patriarchal society like Nigeria, are treated with gender subordination which subjects them to experiencing indelible traumas. Trauma, however, is today regarded as one of the leading causes of death.

“As such, its theorist put to light its various sources as: intimate partner violence, natural disasters, loss of loved one, sexual assault or any physical or mental wound, rape, female genital mutilation and witness of violence.

“All in all, women in Nigeria are exposed to the risk of getting traumatized through situations like; domestic violence, limited social or religious sanctions, lack of social support and most importantly, cultural norms.”

In a research article on patterns of stress, social support and mental health among Nigerian women, David A. Oluwole venerated on the issue of trauma faced by Nigerian women as, "The effort to have and maintain a balanced mental health by the Nigerian women is thwarted by the presence of stress resulting from traumatic and rapid changes of life events.

You cannot gloss over domestic violence and you simply can’t guilt-trip a woman into staying in an abusive environment. Governor Ortom used marriage as a reason to pressure a woman into staying in an abusive relationship. If she dies, her blood is on his hands.

In that Quora response, Kate Bekei also wrote that, "To believe that [an abuser] will [change], will only set you up to be their physical and emotional punching bag for life, and you will lose any semblance of self esteem, confidence, joy and happiness from your life."

Some people might argue that the woman is an adult who can make her own decisions, but women have been adults for years. When you have been trained to protect your children with marriage, it’s very hard to detach from that mindset. Society also shames women divorcees with terribly coined cultural tags.

Society should encourage women to leave abusive relationships, not stay in them on any ground. What Pius Angbo needs is help and punishment, not the comfort of marriage to an innocent woman as his punching bag.

*Pulse Editor's Opinion is the viewpoint of an Editor at Pulse. It does not represent the opinion of the Organisation Pulse

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