The immediate past chairperson of International Federation of Women Lawyers, (FIDAL) Ronke Adeyemi, speaks with KAYODE ADEOTI on the factors responsible for the growth of immoral deeds in our society and why law can no longer halt the menace, among other sundry issues. Excerpts:
Recently, some youths celebrated ‘Igbo day’ (India hemp) in the state, coupled with the prevailing cultism act and ritual dens, with all of these, what would you consider as befalling our society?
It has become obvious that law alone cannot halt the situation, we need community efforts. When we were growing up, it is not only the father and mother that have authority over the child at that time, any older adult can caution anyone seen doing what is wrong. But these days, it is only the parents who can discipline their children, even the teachers cannot, not to talk of an outsider like neighbour; the issue is how far parents can follow their children? We must have a sanitised society where older ones can caution or discipline the younger ones without inhibition. But, it has become habit now that the elders no longer caution those not blood relations in this present generation. They feel it is not their business, and that is why we have increase in vices within the society. There is no traditional or customary system in place that looks out for young ones to train anymore. Parents are so busy these days too, they wake up to go to the office and come back late at night, they ended up not having quality time with their children.
The issue of domestic violence is actually on the increase in our society and it seems to have defied all methods devised to address it, what is your take on this?
This started from home; from the upbringing, the greatest offence you can commit before my parent when I was growing up was to raise hand to beat anyone. It is forbidden, no matter what that person has done. No matter the level of the offence, you must wait till our father returns if he was away, to report. We were not brought up to be violent. And this is how it is supposed to be in every home. We have seen not few cases of husbands who killed wives, and vice versa. We don’t need to wait till things get out of hand before we report. The mindset of some men is that in order to make their wives subjected to them, they have to hit them on the slightest misdeed/provocation. This is what some children have embedded in their minds and that is why they later become violent too in the society. We need to allow the law to take full effect. We’ve seen cases of people who killed their wives and invariably sentenced to death. But we don’t need to wait till he or she kills. What are the penalties for causing grievous hurt? The fact that he is the husband doesn’t mean he has the authority to beat. There are several ways of showing disapproval to a wife, which is even more impactful. And once the man knows that he will get away with his misdeeds, he will continue in it, but if the fear of facing jail is instilled, he will be cautious. There are bad men all over the world, but there are countries in this world where husbands don’t raise hands against the wives, not because they are not provoked but because they know there is a penalty for it and that they will not escape the punishment. But reverse is the case in our country, some relatives will even come and still ask the wife to kneel down and beg when she was not the one that erred. That is why we have domestic violence on the increase. There are terms of imprisonment for beating somebody, either it’s your wife or you beat another person, there is no law that says you should beat your wife. Whoever beats his wife will be punished for beating. The penalty is from two years and above, depending on the degree of assault unleashed.
In recent times, we have been having issues with Christian Religious Knowledge in our educations curriculum, what do you consider as the impact on our students?
I don’t know why such decision was taken in the first place; this country is largely populated by Christians and Muslims. The decision was taken to make religious studies part of Civic Education, they should have made both CRK and IRK part of Civic Education, not removing one and leaving the other. That is the bad part of it; they now impose on those who are not part of the Islamic faith to study it. Those who promulgated this only want to cause problems in the country and they ought to be punished because the impact of it is yet to be completely erased in the minds of many people in the country. Some people need to be better educated that no matter how passionate you feel about your faith, you should think of the consequence of your actions on others. CRK has been in education syllabus for years and it is not a compulsory subject, I know many Muslims who studied CRK in school because it was related to their fields of study. I want to appreciate those who stood against it and I think it is time people are punished for causing chaos in the nation.
On the issue of President Muhammed Buhari’s health, would you want to join those calling for his resignation?
The issue of his health is both a legal and moral matter, nobody prays to be sick, the man has falling health in the cause of his job. Even in a small organisation, I have many people who have an accident while discharging their duties, yet their appointments were not terminated, this is because they felt it will be very inhuman to lay them off, somebody who is ill and hospitalised. No matter what the constitution says, we should apply wisdom, and I don’t even think the law says the man should resign, because if the President is not functioning, he has a vice who is working; then what is the problem? He should be allowed to function as much as he can. He can talk, work and perform all functions, we saw him on Television. He is not medically affected. It is very un-African to be speaking ill of such an old man.