LEGAL IDEAS FORUM

WIVES ON THE ROLL: UNDERSTANDING THE EMERGING TREND OF HUSBAND KILLING

Last year, we all stood witness to the poetic divorce of Jeff Bezos, that bald-headed rich man once tagged ’cutthroat capitalist’ by a New Yorker writer. Poetic by the sweet official statement the defunct couple published, and the ease that characterized the dissolution process of the marriage. But in Nigeria these days, we watch on as gruesome activities unfold in their number by the day, as wives squander their husbands with hot oil, kitchen knives, and all other tools of devilish homicide—or murder—on the grounds of extramarital affair. 
It is very tempting to draw a non-linear relationship between the Bezos experience and our Nigerian happenstances: money. Wealth, it appears, educates the mind and rid it of all its brutish tendencies. This would have been a sufficient explanation except that, Maryam Sanda, the young mother of two recently sentenced to death by hanging is not party to poverty. She and her late husband were well off, living comfortably in a tush part of the country’s capital. So it is not wealth, but a thing of the psyche, or a matter of society. 
What followed Maryam’s sentencing was a sweltering commentary on the nature and obscurity of capital punishment, which like all Nigerian social media debate, lacked a logical conclusion. The consensus may, clearly, have tilted towards the idea that capital punishment is outdated and inefficient, given that death relieves one of the suffering intended by reparative justice, like life sentence, would have given. In its finality also, capital punishment erases the chances of correction if, peradventure, a previously sentenced person is suddenly found innocent. 
But the commentary, beyond dying young, is incomplete in its scope. We forgot to address the dilibitation of our society and now, we see that there is a more heinous malady in the fabric of our society. More killings or its attempt, more terrible tales of nasty exchange between couples who were once lovers, or so it seems. So the question is: what is happening? Why? And how can it be solved? Is this a cataclysmic response to years and years of suppression and maltreatment of women in matrimony? We may need psychologists, sociologists, and even neuroscientists, to approach these questions. 
Even as this task, in its broad scope, may be a herculean one, we must not shy away. And perhaps while we await professional studies, we can assist by pointing out the scary pattern forming in the reactions, comments, and responses of a large chunk of our society. To be specific, the response of women to this ugly trend is more worrisome, ground shattering, than the egregious occurrences itself. Worse, this sinister pattern points to one fact: more is coming – hotter and more terrible disaster is at hand. 
Littered on Facebook and Twitter, are threads with  large amount of women saying: ”but why was the man cheating”, ”serves him right”, ”you men have not seen anything sef”, ”2020 is the year of dealing with cheating husbands”, ”let me see how you will use that your poverty-stricken dick to cheat again.” 
It reeks of vendetta, a warped conception of ’uprising’, a vengeful push back that is determined in its ambition to meet madness with madness. With its frequency, it appears a frenzied dance is on, with a demonic beat at the background, and the repudiated of history—women, in this case—gladly entering the dance floor with knives, otumokpo, red-hot oil, and all other instruments of exorcism. They must deliver men from the spirit of cheating or they deliver them into the hands of death. 
It is at this juncture that we must note one dangerous factor: assumption. And that is what makes this husband-dealing epidemic scarier. Soon, at any slightest provocation or suspicion, the body of a man will fall or fry, becoming victim to untamed jealousy devoid of evidence or thorough investigation. Even good men will fall—those men who wave and smile to female colleagues even without salacious intentions; those friendly men who assist, without sexual motivations, the education of their female church member or towns’ lady. 
Like outbreak of deadly viruses across history, at stages where panacea has yet to be discovered, precaution becomes the creed. For the ones already married, it may be a little too late, leaving them constantly walking on eggshells. For the rest of male humanity, the unmarried who aim to one day do so, you have your job to do. The recent trend only makes imperative, the meticulous study and understanding of whom you plan to spend your life with. 
I have previously been of the view that the background of people influences their outcome in life. Clearly stated, in regards to the case at hand, the nature of a lady’s parents’ marriage, will dictate the way they forever see men, and most likely affect the way their marriage will become. However, recently, this view received a heavy bartering on Twitter after a badly-worded tweet improperly stated the opinion. Of course, people can grow to be better and bigger than their experiences, even vowing to lead a marriage better than that of their parents. But!
Yet there is no pretense to the fact that men, by their own acts, have heaped untold mental and physical torture on their wives. Although it may be vengefully sweet to invoke the same argument women make in protesting domestic violence: “whatever it is she did, never raise your hands on her.” It serves perfectly, this age-long, perfect sentence. So it could do if, mischievously, people begin to say that whomever it is that a man cheats on you with, never wield that knife nor spray that hot oil on him. But that is a petty approach. What should be the concern is our humanness, our reason, that ultimate character that distinguishes us from lower animals, making us superior beings. 
Ultimately, the bid to clear these cobwebs empowers two ongoing arguments. First, the need to appropriate our religiosity, hence relaxing our moral codes. Most people who remain in an abusive marriage, of which many eventually result in abuse, are scared or in blind obeisance to the religious creed that marriage, in whatever condition, is a ’till-death-do-us-apart’ affair. Same it is with our society’s response to divorce – an appalling reaction of disgust, ridicule, and shaming. Never mind it is always left for every human to express their agency, summoning the courage to damn society’s judgment and walk, still, we need to do better in order to assist the process. 
Secondly: the economic empowerment of the womenfolk, a ceaseless need to attain a certain level of financial independence before marriage. Having your own resources automatically bestow respect on any human being, man or woman. Resources, and the lessons learned in the means of acquiring it, awards knowledge and a level of enlightenment that will debar a human being from cascading to the bestial low levels of stabbing the husband or bathing him with hot oil in his sleep. 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Goodluck Chiemelie is a journalist with special interest in politics, development, and sports. He obtained his first degree, a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Anambra State University, and a Post Graduate Diploma in Broadcast Journalism at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism. He resides in Lagos.
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For knowledge and Justice

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