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‘Cultural beliefs fuel domestic violence’

What is your take on domestic violence? Domestic violence is quite common among Nigerians especially in the United Kingdom where I live. Domestic violence in…

What is your take on domestic violence?

Domestic violence is quite common among Nigerians especially in the United Kingdom where I live. Domestic violence in Nigerian homes is a fall out of our culture in which the man is the absolute ruler in the home. For centuries people have felt it was acceptable for a man to hit his wife, but in England it is against the law to do so. I believe that if you love something or somebody you don’t go about hitting the person. Many of our men have been convicted for domestic violence abroad.
Can you describe domestic violence amongst Nigerian couples in the United Kingdom?
Most times Nigerian women for fear of being found out to be illegal immigrants hardly inform the police when their husbands beat them up. It is their neighbours who often alert the police. These are the issues that I have been working on. I have faced domestic violence myself. I divorced my first husband after years of suffering in silence, and accepting to stay in an abusive relationship for the sake of the children.
How does this affect children in the marriage?
In the UK, we Nigerians face challenges of the clash of culture when it comes to raising children. In England you cannot correct your child the way we do in Nigeria. Over there, we have people from the social services going into homes over a complaint from a teacher or a neighbor and if care is not taken, children are taken away from their Nigerian parents and put into foster care.
Sometimes, Nigerian children are given to white foster parents who don’t have the same culture with the kids to raise them. More worrisome is the fact  that in some cases, over time, the names of Nigerian kids are changed and they are completely separated from their parents. I have seven children, I brought them up to be disciplined and I am happy to say that the disciplined manner my mother brought me up made me who I am today.
I am not saying that people shouldn’t obey the laws of the country they live in, but those given the duty to protect Nigerians in the UK should wake up to their responsibility. It is unfortunate that when you report to those who should spearhead the protection of the rights of Nigerians in the UK, they simply say that people should stop beating their children in order to prevent them from being taken away.
But some people have argued that it is Nigerian women who treat the men badly abroad so they can inherit their spouse’s properties?
I have heard these kinds of comment many times. But we need to ask ourselves if a woman with children would leave the house for one man. Where do you expect a woman to go to after years of marriage? Who will shelter a woman with children? These are the questions the British people asked before they designed their laws to act as support for the woman to protect her.
A man can pick his bag and manage with his friends, but nobody will accommodate a woman with children. So the idea is that a man can start afresh much easily than the woman. I have to tell you that it is our men that have hardened Nigerian women. I sit before you today a survivor of domestic violence. I was beaten until my former husband beat some sense into me and I realized that I had to save myself.
I didn’t throw my husband out of the house but I ended our marriage to stay alive. Yes, a man may have brought a girl from the village to London, but he has to accept that she gets exposed and knows what her rights are and he has to know that bringing a woman to London doesn’t make her a slave. You can imagine a Nigerian man expecting that his wife who just returned from a twelve hour shift to cook food when she can do so much with a little rest.
What exactly do you do abroad?
Well as it relates to the Nigerian community, am the President of the Nigerian community in Liverpool, am also the women development officer and general secretary of Nigerian Association of Nigerian Communities in the United Kingdom.
Presently we are in Nigeria with our NGO called the African Rural Community Development Initiative to sensitise  rural dwellers on the menace and dangers of fake and counterfeit drugs. We will be collaborating with NAFDAC to ensure that those in the rural communities are safe.
I am here in  Nigeria to work with NAFDAC. We got interested in working with NAFDAC after we listened to the presentation of the Director -General of the agency speak at a forum organized by the NTA in London earlier in the year.
 As Nigerians in the Diaspora, we feel that an agency such as NAFDAC should not only be commended for the much it is doing, but any one with useful ideas of how the agency can further achieve its mandate should partner with it.
We are willing to share our experience as well as offer the expertise coming from our members in order to help NAFDAC rid the rural areas of fake and sub-standard drugs.
We are committed to doing this because, it is saddening that some evil people who have come under the heat from NAFDAC in the cities, have now turned to the vulnerable masses in the rural areas. We were all impressed by the use of modern equipments and devices to detect fake drugs, more impressive was how people can get instant replies on enquiries about drugs using these devices. So the area which we want to partner with NAFDAC is the aspect of taking the fight against counterfeit drugs message to rural dwellers.
NAFDAC is in Abuja and there is a limit to where they can be at the same time and since we have people versed in community mobilization, they will be deployed to the rural areas, starting with a pilot project in selected states.
These communicators will organise workshops and conduct house to house enlightenment campaigns. Our goal is for the real people in the villages to know that with a simple text message, they can confirm the authenticity of a drug. I was in my village Ohe in Irua, Edo state and I spoke to them about how simple it is for them to confirm the authenticity of a drug and they hadn’t heard of the Truscan or the use of text messages which has long be deployed by NAFDAC.
And this confirmed the fears I had that rural dwellers, despite being the most vulnerable are unaware of the simple techniques through which they can protect themselves by finding out how safe the drugs they use are. I am particularly happy that antibiotics and anti-malaria drugs are some of the drugs that can be authenticated through a text because they are commonly used.
What is your advice to those who want to travel overseas by all means to make a living?
Living as an illegal immigrant in any country isn’t worth it at all. I will not advise anyone to come to London illegally. Even those that have the right documentation work so hard to survive, you can now imagine how hard it will be for an illegal immigrant. Go through the streets of Peckam, you will see Nigerians begging for alms. Europe and America aren’t where you go to without a tangible plan. Staying in Nigeria is a better option for the youths. Some people might think that I don’t want them to live in England but there are people who have returned to Nigeria on their own after they saw how difficult it is to live in the UK. Some people would love to return but they cannot even repay the money they borrowed to travel abroad. Some are too ashamed to come and face their relations. So I don’t think anyone should get herself into the mess in the first place.