Feature Article of Sunday, 25 November 2012

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Domestic Violence Is a National Security Matter

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

It is often written about and generally depicted in the trivial manner of newspaper gossip columns, but the recent spate of domestic violence in the country ought to be taken seriously before matters spiral out of control. Issues of domestic violence must be nationally policed in much the same way that drug trafficking and terrorism are envisaged and judicially confronted.

In the latest reportage of domestic violence, a 23-year-old woman nursing her newly-born baby in the Obuasi township of the Asante Region was viciously sprayed with a chemical compound of sand, water and washing power – whatever the latter may be – by a conjugal rival whose alleged barrenness had supposedly caused her husband to initiate an adulterous affair out of which the aforementioned baby was begotten.

This chemical assault case is further complicated by the fact that the assailant, Mrs. Faustina Appiadu, had also violently targeted the newly-born baby, whose gender was not indicated in the news report, in the alleged assault (See “Jealous Wife Gives Rival Unusual Bath” Ghanaweb.com 9/27/12).

The very caption of the news report seemed to flagrantly relegate the grievous criminality of this felony-assault incident into a sideshow, and at the worst a misdemeanor. Consequently, the report that at the time of this writing (10/7/12) the assailant had been “granted a police enquiry bail pending further investigation into the case,” came off to yours truly as all-too-predictable. Still, the fact that the decision to grant the assailant “a police enquiry bail” does not stand to reason, by even the most lenient measure, cannot be gainsaid.

If, indeed, Mrs. Faustina Appiadu, the assailant, felt so strongly about her husband’s alleged extramarital affair, especially once the latter had resulted in the birth of an illegitimate – or love – child, she ought to have promptly sued for divorce, since, at any rate, her husband clearly did not appear to have placed any remarkable premium on either the sacredness or integrity of the couple’s marital bond.

Furthermore, if Mrs. Appiadu had any such dastardly intention of hurting anybody, the primary target of such intended hurt or injury, ought to have been Mr. Yaw Appiadu, the man who voluntarily and unilaterally decided to breach the sacred bond of their marriage. The mere fact of Mrs. Appiadu’s apparent inability to conjugally reproduce ought not to have served as a justifiable pretext for Mr. Appiadu to breach his conjugal fealty unless, of course, if Mrs. Appiadu had earlier on refused to oblige to any proposal for divorce – or marital dissolution – put forward by her husband.

The preceding, of course, is neither meant to justify Ms. Mary Abadu’s rather selfish decision to strike a conjugal relationship with a married man, not even on the culturally condoned grounds of her rival’s alleged conjugal infertility. What is more, unless it has been medically certified by a legally licensed physician, we cannot facilely conclude that, indeed, Mrs. Faustina Appiadu, 24 years old, is barren. It simply could be that she and Mr. Appiadu are genetically and conjugally incompatible, which is why it probably would have been in the couple’s best interest to have parted ways, once it became apparent that the two were highly unlikely to be able to create an organic family unit, as it were, for as long as they remained bonded to one another.

And so, perhaps, as a salutary means of drastically reducing such potentially deadly incidents of domestic violence and abuse, the Ministry of Women’s and Children’s Affairs, with the full backing of the executive branch of government at large, may need to initiate a vigorous national education campaign vis-à-vis the forging of healthy and meaningful conjugal relationships, particularly regarding the healthy need for either conjugally or temperamentally incompatible couples to seek psychological counseling and call it quits before matters get potentially feral and fatal. For, it goes without saying that however seemingly natural conjugal/marital relationships may be, ultimately, a couple’s decision to bond with each other is inescapably a quality-of-life issue. And whichever way and manner it is handled has both positive and negative effects on the larger society.

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is Director of The Sintim-Aboagye Center for Politics and Culture and author of “Sounds of Sirens: Essays in African Politics and Culture” (iUniverse.com, 2004). E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net. ###