Domestic Violence: DSVA Tasks Religious Leaders on Pre-Marital Counselling

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With the aim of driving systemic changes, normative and cultural shifts while promoting healthy relationships, the Lagos State Government, through the Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency (DSVA) has tasked religious leaders on the need to give proper pre-marital counseling to intending couples by providing them with relevant information before enforcing the marriage contract.

This is towards enhancing coordinated response to domestic and sexual violence in Lagos and Nigeria at large, as the Executive Secretary of DSVA, Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi, in a one-day meeting with religious leaders in the state, said she hoped the roundtable would result in deliverables critical for landing the introduction and adoption of a curriculum on domestic violence prevention, tagged “The Lagos State Mandatory Preparatory Pre-Marital Counselling in Religious Institutions.”

She bemoaned the rising prevalence of domestic violence among legally wed couples in Lagos State, highlighting how the unwholesome trend has grown concerns.

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She claimed that the DSVA 2022 report showed that at least 60 per cent of domestic violence survivors who had married under the Matrimonial Causes Act were aware of their intended spouses' propensity for abuse but still went through with the marriage despite having little to no knowledge of the resources or coping strategies that would have helped them deal with the obvious warning signs.

“The data also revealed that financial dependency, third-party interference, lack of communication, lack of sexual satisfaction, unrealistic expectation and infidelity, were identified as triggers contributing to domestic violence and intimate partner violence. Furthermore, about 70 per cent of survivors that reported to DSVA disclosed that they had previously reported to their pastors or imams before coming to report to the DSVA”, she added.

Vivour-Adeniyi emphasised that in light of the rising concern, the agency recognised the crucial roles that religious institutions play in the formation of marriages and the sustainability of families. As a result, the agency found it expedient to consult with religious leaders about the strategic position of religious institutions in premarital counseling for intending couples from a preventive perspective before taking the big step into marriage.

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The Executive Secretary stated that the involvement of religious leaders and stakeholders would enable an in-depth discussion on the obvious rise in domestic violence cases in the state. Statistics have shown that holy matrimony solemnisation is the preferred method of solemnisation, which the Executive Secretary drew on to emphasise the significance of faith-based organisations in this process.

She averred that, in order to introduce this project, it has been deemed expedient to organise this roundtable discussion with religious leaders and stakeholders drawn from religious institutions within the Ikeja Division of Lagos State.

Her words, “With training like this, there would be an improved capacity of religious leaders to provide relevant information to intending couples during pre-marriage counselling”.

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“An improved knowledge of religious leaders to be able to guide intending couples in effective communication skills, coping mechanisms, which is critical for marriage and an enhanced knowledge of faith-based organisations on referrals to responder agencies upon receipt of complaints”, Vivour-Adeniyi.

Also at the meeting, the Director of Religious Matters, Mr Olawale Adams, who represented the Permanent Secretary of Home Affairs, Mrs  Ololade Aina, informed the religious institutions' representatives in attendance that solving the menace of SGBV requires a holistic approach.

Therefore, he called for a change in engrained societal stereotypes, stressing the need to protect women's fragility while promoting peace, love, self-respect and civility.

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