Domestic Violence: Nigerian Igbo Men Beat Their Wives All the Time

In the kitchen where she had gone to scoop out some fried rice to feed their five children, the husband-turned monster ambushed her with a single punch to the back of the head.

‘Don’t hit me, please,’ pleaded the wife, ‘and what did I do to you that you hit me so hard, and so many times?’

Angered both by her asking for an explanation and her plea for mercy, the monster hit the woman again in her left eye, and across her nose. He aimed at her teeth and knocked her on the top of her lip.

Red blood ran down from the woman’s nose and mouth and spattered all over the cement floor, next to the edge of the kitchen cupboard.Two teeth behind her upper lip were missing

Besides shielding her face with her elbows and arms she was defenseless against the cruelty of the monster.

With the back of her right hand the woman began to wipe blood dripping from her nose. Doing so exposed her cheek, and ‘the monster,’ the woman later said, ‘slapped me with the speed of the devil, seven times on the right cheek and three times on the left.’

The last blow had such force in it that it threw her off balance and she fell. She quickly got up from the floor and leaned her back against the closed kitchen door. For the sake of her children she remained tough until the very end, when suddenly she broke down and began to scream. Her cries attracted the attention of the children.

‘Lock the door quickly,’ said the three-year-old, the youngest of the children.

‘What’s the matter?’ asked the seven-year-old.

‘Papa is punching and beating Mama again,’ answered the oldest of the five.

Silence fell upon the children, an indicator to the mother that they had become aware of the commotion. ‘Oh! My children! Oh, my five hungry children,’ she wept.

On top of the kerosene stove, resting on the low kitchen cupboard, was a razor-thin kitchen knife. The woman thought about snatching it up and applying it across the throat of the monster, but she couldn’t bring herself to do it.

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Sensing his vulnerability should his wife summon enough courage to grab hold of the knife, the monster decided to finish her off. He kicked her with his shoed feet across the abdomen and the chest, forcing her to fold up, crouching down by the kitchen door.

Satisfied that the woman was beaten to the degree that she had no mind and no physical strength, the monster wobbled out of the kitchen, his voice threatening as he walked away, ‘Tell anybody, tell your family, tell your mother, tell your friends or your sisters, and I shall not only ridicule them but beat you some more and drive you out of my house.’

Despite the warning from the monster, this time the woman was brave enough to report the repeated abuse. She had had enough. Once the abuse was out in the open, the fiend went on the run; pursued, not by authorities since none exist, but by his inner demons.

The police have been called in the past to handcuff an Igbo man who had knocked out his wife with the brutality of his left fist, only for them to chuckle and leave, saying, ‘This not a police matter.’

A parish priest has been called to rebuke and sentence to hell an Igbo man who gave his wife two black eyes, only for him to tell her, ‘You know, when you married, you married for better or worse, death included.’

You would be mistaken for thinking that the court of law would differ from the police and the priest. A judge would, in all instances, laugh out loud, stroke his beard and declare, ‘That’s a family matter, my young friend; go back home and settle with your husband.’

Families of abused women, who ought to be the last resort of protection, often raise their hands in defeat, and demand that women go back and cook better food for their monsters.

This current culture of ‘looking the other way,’ has allowed wife assault to skyrocket among Nigerian Igbos. Back in the days when Igbo men had guts, however, my Uncle Karl had to send my cousin C.K.G. to mangle an in-law who had assaulted my niece.

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If an Igbo man beats his wife in any civilized country he goes to jail, where he gets thrashed around by real men; so why would a fat-bellied scumbag in Nigeria who hits his wife not be thrown in jail, where at least he would learn the true meaning of life?

One could forever postulate why a man, an Igbo man, could punch any woman twenty-two times in the face, on the lips and nose, and not even stop to think over his actions when he draws the first drop of blood, or when two teeth fall from her mouth.

Frustration, some say, is the real reason Nigerian Igbos beat their wives on a daily basis: Frustrations emanating from poverty, frustration emanating from personal failures, frustrations from unrealized expectations, frustrations from a ballooned belly, stinking breath, wicked teeth, and impotence.

Others think that the Igbo wife beatings would not exist if young Igbo men had a little more education. Wife beaters are half-educated, they say.

As such, it never struck them that life is not a bed of roses. No surprise, then, that any time they step on the thorny patch of married life they go crazy. Had they been educated they would comprehend that Igbo women have strong opinions, and trying to suppress them is like trying to suppress a growing pregnancy.

For clarity, let me point out that not all Igbo men assault their wives. There are Igbo men, poor and wealthy, schooled and unschooled, who are of impeccable character. They would never lay a hand on their wives nor tolerate any man who hurt their darling daughters, their beautiful sisters and their awesome mothers.

But, you know, just like the Igbo proverb says, ‘When oil soils one finger, the rest of the fingers are soiled.’

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by Anselm Anyoha