Domestic Violence Heightened by the Economic Hardship in Nigeria; Women At The Receiving End

Abuja, Nigeria. August 2nd, 2016 –A recent Public Opinion poll conducted by NOIPolls Limited in partnership with Project Alert on domestic violence has revealed an increasing prevalence of domestic violence across Nigeria in recent times as reported by about 8 in 10 (78 percent) respondents. This prevalence is highest in the South-West geo-political zone (86 percent) and lowest in the South-South zone (70 percent). More findings revealed that 54 percent of Nigerians have suffered a form of domestic violence or know someone that has experienced domestic violence in their homes with majority of the victims being women as stated by 75 percent of respondents; although  ‘men’ (16 percent) and ‘children’ (9 percent) are also known to be victims of domestic violence. Moreover findings from a similar poll conducted by NOIPolls in 2012 which revealed that 4 percent of the respondents were victims and 29 percent indicated they know victims of domestic violence, potrays an increase in the occurrence of domestic violence in Nigeria when these figures are compared to recent figures.

An evaluation of the causes of domestic violence in Nigeria revealed that Nigerians perceive ‘economic hardship’ (42 percent), ‘misunderstanding between couples’ (21 percent) and ‘impatience’ (9 percent) as the main causes of domestic violence in Nigerian homes. Furthermore, the poll revealed that victims of domestic violence do not take any action about their cases, implying that most domestic violence cases go unreported. These victims do not take any action mainly ‘to avoid stigmatization’ (34 percent), while in other cases it could be as a result of Ignorance and Illiteracy of victims (21 percent), emotional attachment to their spouses and partners (18 percent) and fear of threat or insecurity (17 percent).

Finally, while several individuals, civil society organisations and other relevant stakeholders have risen to fight against the prevalance of this evil in the Nigerian society, Nigerians have suggested that the fostering of mutual understanding in marriages and relationships as well as proper enlightenment on marriage amongst other suggestions will play critical roles in reducing the prevalence of domestic violence in Nigeria.

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Brief Background

Domestic violence is an issue affecting individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, or nationality. It is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behaviour that is only a fraction of a systematic pattern of dominance and control. Domestic violence can result in physical injury, psychological trauma, and in severe cases, even death.

By definition, domestic violence is the wilful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and other abusive behaviour as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse.[1] Domestic violence in Nigeria is said to be on the increase. About 50% of women are said to have been battered by their husbands. Sadly, more educated women (65%) are in this horrible situation compared to their less educated counterparts (55%). Shockingly, a staggering 97.2% of them do not report the crime to the Nigeria Police. They endure and sometimes die in silence, believing that the law will not protect them.[2]

There is also a prevalence of domestic violence against men, which has largely remained under-reported owing to its sensitive nature. In a study conducted by Dienye and Gbeneol, (2009) at the General Outpatient Department of the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, out of a total of 48 victims of domestic violence identified 5 (10.4%) were males.[3] Children are also victims of domestic violence. UNICEF in May 2019 declared that about 60 per cent of children, that is, 6 in 10 children in Nigeria, suffer one or more types of violence before they reach the age of 18. Also, one in two suffers physical violence, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 10 boys suffer sexual violence, while 1 in 5 boys and 1 in 6 girls suffer emotional violence.[4]

Experts link domestic violence to increasing poverty, drug abuse, and use of alcohol, traditional and religious laws which permit men to physically discipline their wife(s), personal dispositions and a raft of other reasons. Only four states of the Federation, including Lagos, have passed laws against the insidious crime, whilst several bills gather dust at the National Assembly.[5] In the states where the law has been passed, it remains to be tested. There is however an urgent need for all the 36 states in Nigeria to put up some laws regarding domestic violence. A lot of victims suffer in silence owing to some factors like fear of divorce, death, shame etc. In view of this, NOIPolls in partnership with Project Alert on Violence against women, conducted a poll to ascertain the perceptions of Nigerians, regarding domestic violence in Nigeria.

Key Findings

The poll measured the opinion of Nigerians on the increasing prevalence of domestic violence in Nigeria and the results showed that 78 percent of Nigerians nationwide stated that there is an increasing prevalence of domestic violence in Nigeria, and this view was evenly shared across gender, geo-political zones and age-groups.

Further results from the poll revealed that despite its prohibition by Section 34 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, which guarantees the rights of all against torture and other cold-hearted or degrading treatment; the largest proportion of the respondents (97 percent) who believe there is an increasing prevalence of domestic violence in Nigeria stated that domestic violence of men against women is highly / somewhat prevalent in the Nigerian society and this is the same across all geo-political zones.

Other segments of the respondents believe that men are also at the receiving end of domestic violence in Nigerian homes as 47 percent stated that domestic violence of women against men is highly / somewhat prevalent. The North-East geopolitical zone (79 percent) make up the highest proportion of respondents with this perception, although, 53 percent have a contrary opinion stating that domestic violence of women against men is non prevalent or non-existent in the Nigerian society. 79 percent also mentioned domestic violence against children is highly / somewhat prevalent, and this is the same across all geopolitical zones.

The survey also sought to ascertain the major causes of domestic violence in Nigeria. Economic hardship (42 percent), Misunderstanding between couples (21 percent) and impatience (9 percent) were the top factors respondents perceive as the major causes of domestic violence. Other mentions include; lack of trust (6 percent), women not submitting (5 percent), and lack of moral values (4 percent)

This is in line with a previous survey conducted by NOIPolls in 2012 which revealed that 40 percent of Nigerians believed that financial issues and lack of understanding (31 percent) were the major causes of conflicts in marriages.  

An evaluation of the proportion of Nigerians who have either suffered or are aware of someone who has suffered any form of domestic violence or abuse revealed that 54 percent of the respondents nationwide have either been victims or know a victim of domestic violence. Interestingly, this view was almost evenly shared by both gender groups; 53 percent and 54 percent for male and female respondents respectively. This finding is a further confirmation of the prevalence of the issue in Nigeria.

Furthermore, analysis of results across geo-political zones showed that the North-East region (64 percent) had the highest proportion of respondents who claimed to have suffered, or know someone who has suffered a form of domestic violence, while the South-East region (49 percent) had the lowest proportion of respondents in this category. 

Consequently, the poll sought to get insight on the victims of domestic violence in Nigeria, sequel to the above findings, and an analysis of results showed that a larger proportion of the respondents (75 percent) nationwide stated that most victims of domestic violence are women. This view decreased sequentially across the various age-groups, (78 percent) for the (18 -35) age-group, (73 percent) for (36-60) age-group and 62 percent for the (61+) age group. In addition, 16 percent indicated men, while 9 percent indicated children.

It is also interesting to note that more female (89 percent) than male (63 percent) respondents indicated they are aware of female victims, while more male (24 percent) than female (6 percent) respondents claimed they are aware of male victims.

The poll also, sought to find out the various actions taken by victims of domestic violence or how they responded after such occurrences, and the results revealed that 55 percent of the respondents reported that victims of domestic violence ‘took no action’. Clearly this finding shows that nationwide victims of domestic violence are suffering in silence, enduring whatever pain or humiliation that is inflicted on them.

Also, the analysis of results revealed that 12 percent of respondents indicated that the victims of domestic violence ‘reported to family and friends’ and theSouth-East region (23 percent) had the highest proportion of respondents in this category. 9 percent stated the victims had to be separated from their partners and the North-West region (11 percent) had the highest percentage of victims in this category, while the South-East region (6 percent) had the lowest portion of respondents in this category.

In addition, some respondents reported that victims sought divorce (6 Percent), reported to the police (5 percent) and relied on Elders to settle the issue (5 percent). In addition, only 2 percent of the respondents indicated that the respondents ‘reported to human rights agencies’.

Finally, the poll sought to get suggestions from Nigerians on how domestic violence can be curbed in Nigeria and an analysis of results nationwide revealed that 29 percent of respondents nationwide advocated mutual understanding between spouses. To put it simply, partners should be trained on how to develop mutual understanding on all issues and challenges that presents themselves in their daily lives. Furthermore, 24 percent said there should be a proper enlightenment on marriage, 13 percent indicated counselling for couples that are willing to be together after having experienced a form of domestic violence in their homes, and another 13 percent indicated  ‘job creation’, among others.

In conclusion, the poll having assessed the opinions of Nigerians on the issue of domestic violence in Nigeria, revealed that there is an alarming increase in the prevalence of domestic violence with most victims being women (75 percent).  This is of serious concern given that women play a great role in the nurturing of children and their psychological well-being is very important because it determines the quality of upbringing they provide to their children, and the society at large. The poll also revealed that the main cause of the increase in domestic violence in Nigeria is ‘economic hardship’ (42 percent), another striking revelation is that 55 percent of the respondents stated that victims do not take any action on domestic violence issues, and only 2 percent indicated that victims actually reported to civil society organizations and appropriate authorities.

Notwithstanding the on-going efforts to protect women and other vulnerable population against violence, the results of this poll is quite disturbing given an increased prevalence of domestic violence in Nigeria. Hence this is a wake-up call for civil society organisations and relevant stakeholders to increase their presence in communities carrying-out training and civic education on domestic violence; and to implement pro-people policies and programmes. Also, adequate legislation should be enacted by the government to curb the prevalence of domestic violence, especially one that would promote gender equality given that Nigeria ranked 125 out of 145 in the 2015 world economic forum gender gap index.[6]

Survey Methods

The opinion poll was conducted in the week of June 13th 2016. It involved telephone interviews of a random nationwide sample. 1,000 randomly selected phone-owning Nigerians aged 18 years and above, representing the six geopolitical zones in the country, were interviewed. With a sample of this size, we can say with 95% confidence that the results obtained are statistically precise – within a range of plus or minus 3%. NOIPolls Limited is the No1 for country specific polling services in West Africa. We conduct periodic opinion polls and studies on various socio-economic and political issues in Nigeria. More information is available at

Project Alert is a non-governmental women’s rights organisation set up in January 1999 to promote and protect the rights of women and young girls. Project Alert seeks to influence society by actively advocating for zero tolerance for all forms of violence against women / young girls.


This press release has been produced by NOIPolls Limited to provide information on all issues which form the subject matter of the document. Kindly note that while we are willing to share results from our polls with the general public, we only request that NOIPolls be acknowledged as author whenever and wherever our poll results are used, cited or published.

NOIPolls hereby certifies that all the views expressed in this document accurately reflect its views of respondents surveyed for the poll, and background information is based on information from various sources that it believes are reliable; however, no representation is made that it is accurate or complete. Whilst reasonable care has been taken in preparing this document, no responsibility or liability is accepted for errors or fact or for any views expressed herein by NOIPolls for actions taken as a result of information provided in this report. Any ratings, forecasts, estimates, opinions or views herein constitute a judgment as at the date of this document. If the date of this document is not current, the views and content may not reflect NOIPolls’ current findings and/or thinking.

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