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1.1   Background to the Study

For sometimes in the Nigerian society now, there has been shocking news of domestic violence in every nook and crannies of the country. If the news is not about the report about cultism, prostitution, baby making factories trending the nooks and crannies of the country, it may be about a husband, killing the wife and vice versa. In many cases, it may be about a father having canal knowledge of his daughter by sexually abusing her. Nigerian women has been at the receiving end of barter rape and even murder by members of their own family most especially, their nuclear family for a supposed transgression which can range from not having meals ready on time to visiting family members without their husband’s permission. Many family, particularly women, experience chemical and acid attacks from their husbands or boyfriends which cause enormous pain or disfigurement and sometimes leading to the death of the victims (Simon, 2016). Domestic violence affects all social groups in the society and can consist of physical, sexual, emotional, economic and psychological abuse (America Psychiatric Association 2005, Oifig and Tánaiste, 1997).

We can say that domestic violence is the intentional and persistent abuse of anyone in the home in a way that causes pain, distress or injury (Aihie Ose, 2009). It is any abusive treatment (physically or psychologically) of a family member by another, therefore violating the law of basic human rights. It includes battering of intimate partners and others, sexual abuse of children, marital rape and traditional practices that are harmful to women. Domestic violence occurs universally (Dahlberg and Krug, 2002, UNICEF, 2005). Families from all walks of lives and as well from social, racial economic, educational and religious backgrounds experience domestic violence in one way or the other. In the United States of America, according to a report of Djaden and Thoennes (2002), each year, women experience about 4.8 million intimate partner-related physical assaults and rapes while men are victims of about 2.9 million intimate partner related physical assaults. In West Africa, domestic violence is prevalent and reportedly justified and to an extent allowed in some cultures.

Domestic violence is not a new trend in the Nigerian society. We have woken up to read of murder and violence. Domestic violence happens across all sectors of society. It is common among the educated and the illiterates, the religious and the freethinkers, classes of career women and stay-at-home wives, the married and the single as well as all ages. In local communities, domestic violence is mostly perceived as what is due to women who nag, disobey or want to take over the seat of authority from the man, who is always seen to be the head of the house. It is also known as a therapy through which a man can conveniently vent his anger or frustration on a ‘lesser being’ who is his wife or children. Many women now agree that physical abuse is sometimes justified depending on the circumstances that surround it. In this setting, most women bear the pain and grieve in silence believing that one day the man will have a change of heart and amend his ways. The stigma and the shame it will elicit also contributes to the silence.

Determining the extent of domestic violence in Nigeria is a difficult task and this is because the official statistics on violence in the home are not properly documented in the country. In addition, incidents of domestic violence tend to go unreported (ibid; AI 31 May 2005; Eze-Anaba 2006, 7; UK 25 May 2007, 96). Reasons cited for women not reporting violence in the home include: respect for tradition; lack of knowledge of rights (VOA 4 June 2007); pressure from family members to not disrupt the family peace, fear of reprisals from the abuser; the belief that their complaint will not be taken seriously by the police; and fear of financial insecurity (AI 31 May 2005, 7). Hence this study aims to critically look at the assessment of the role of social media in raising awareness about domestic violence in Nigeria.

1.2   Statement of the Problem

One of the implications of domestic violence is that it can cause psychological disorder to the victims. In some aspects, women are usually at the receiving end of this antisocial behaviour in Nigeria. Various human rights and civil society organizations and concerned individuals, have put up various measures in challenge to that social menace that has put mostly the female gender and children in danger. The social media is expected to play a significant role by amplifying the voices of antisexual violence crusaders and through its instrumental surveillance role, bring to public notice cases of sexual violence.

It has been observed that high rate of unemployment increases the incidence of domestic violence (Catalano, Lind, Rosenblatt and Novaco, 2003). They found that the unemployed hypothetically feel frustrated and angry. They labelled this the ‘provocative effect’ because it shows that unemployment introduces anger into personal relationship that would otherwise be supportive. Other risk factors include tradition and norms within African traditional culture that regards wife battering and harsh disciplining of children as normal. Obi and Ozumba (2007) found that domestic violence was significantly associated with financial disparity in favour of the female, influential in-laws, educated women and couple within the same age group.

In a bid to combat the menace of domestic violence situation in Nigeria, all stakeholders must be involved; the communities, news agencies, religious groups, institutions, bloggers, government at all levels. There must be organisation of seminars and workshops, where trained counsellors would help in propagating the anti-domestic violence campaign. There is the need to create awareness at these forums, to underscore the fact that violence in the home serves as a breeding ground for violence in the society. Therefore this study shall focus on the assessment of the role of social media in raising awareness about domestic violence in Nigeria.

1.3   Objectives of the Study

The objective of this study is to assess the role of social media in raising awareness about domestic violence in Nigeria. However, the specific objectives are:

i)             To study the various types of social media available in raising awareness on domestic violence in Nigeria

ii)           To determine how social media has helped in creating awareness on domestic violence in Nigeria

iii)         To identify the ethical principles that must be considered by social media in creating awareness on domestic violence

1.4   Research Questions

The following are some of the questions which this study intends to answer:

i)             What are the various types of social media available in raising awareness on domestic violence in Nigeria?

ii)           In what ways has social media helped in creating awareness on domestic violence in Nigeria?

iii)         What are ethical principles that must be considered by social media in creating awareness on domestic violence?

1.5   Research Hypotheses 

The following shall be the research hypotheses to be tested:

i)             Social media do not give prominence to domestic violence issues.

ii)           Social media give prominence to domestic violence issues.

iii)         Social media do not very often report domestic violence matters.

iv)         Social media very often report domestic violence matters.

1.6   Significance of the Study

This study investigates the role of social media in raising awareness about domestic violence in Nigeria. This study will focus on the report from various social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, Snapchat and the likes on domestic violence and it will therefore awaken the consciousness of social media users on the importance of the use of social media in the society. Moreover, by articulating figures and other issues related to domestic violence as reported by social media, the public can understand and appreciate the seriousness of that Anti social behaviour. In addition, the study will provide adequate information to the government by revealing different cases of domestic violence in the country and as well provide necessary solutions to the government on the various ways by which the victims of domestic violence can be helped, mot especially, by establishing rehabilitation homes that will help their social and psychological lives. Also, this study will be beneficial to students, teachers and researchers of mass communication as it is a material for academic exercise; it will as well serve as a foundation upon which further research can be conducted.

1.7   Scope of the Study

The study investigates the role of social media in raising awareness about domestic violence in Nigeria. Several, mass media in the country are articulating their coverage of issues on domestic violence against women and children will be too exacting to accomplish. Therefore, this study will be limited to social media of the subject matter. The study will be focusing on the coverage of domestic violence like rape, nagging of women by men, physical assault by couple. However, this study was particularly focused on cases physical assaults (couple bartering each other) as reported by various social media.

1.8   Limitation of the study

    The researcher was faced with only the challenge of time and was because the time for carrying out this study clashed with the school calendar of the researcher and this proved difficult as the researcher had to forgo lectures to carry out this study.

1.9   Operational Definitions of Terms

The following terms were used in the course of this study:

Coverage: the process of reporting various cases of domestic violence like physical assault, rape, nagging etc. through newspapers like The Punch and Vanguard.

Domestic violence: the intentional and persistent abuse of anyone in the home in a way that causes pain, distress or injury

Social media: It refers to a web based services that allow the individuals to construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection and view, and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system.

This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research

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