Saturday, March 23, 2013

My HIV-positive husband wants to poison me and my children –Battered wife

Battered wife
Angela, 35, cannot say she has experienced happiness in her 10 years of marriage as she alleges that she became her husband’s punching bag barely three weeks after their union.
“I don’t love my husband anymore. I did before because when you are married, you are married. My marriage has been so bitter for me. I was staying there with the hope that he would change but he got worse,” she told our correspondent during the week.
She said her ordeal began when she asked for her mother to be present at their wedding. Her husband, David, did not see the need for that so he turned down her request. Angela felt the absence of her mother so much during her wedding that she cried. This angered her husband who later allegedly beat her thoroughly.
Angela said, “I met David through my cousin because she married his younger brother. Then, I did not want to marry him, but for my cousin I decided to marry him. I was about 21. That was how I got married to him. We got married and after two weeks of the marriage, everything began to go wrong. Before the marriage, I told him to bring my mother to witness the marriage, but he refused to bring her. He did not give me any reason.
“He said that if I did not see my mother, would I not do the wedding? I told him that as my mother is alive, I would love her to witness the wedding and I would not be happy if my mother is not aware of the wedding. During the wedding, when the parents of the bride were called, I began to cry because I did not see my mother. Something happened that I cannot remember but because I did not hide the feeling that my mother did not come to my wedding, my husband beat me.
“By then I was pregnant. I did not do anything to warrant his beating me. But because I cried that my mother did not come to my wedding, he began to beat me. I was inside the kitchen then. He beat me to the extent that my lips were swollen and there was blood all over. His younger brother that stayed with us had to stop him and tell him that he shouldn’t beat me, especially as I was pregnant.”
She explained that her husband did not just beat her at the slightest provocation, he also did not care about the family. She recalled an instance when she wanted to take their first child for dedication in church. She said David refused to go with her and do the necessary things as a father.
The mother of three said, “Even when I gave birth and I went to meet him for his support for us to dedicate our child to God, he did not answer me. He said that it would be better if I wore my clothes and went for my child dedication.
“He said that I was wasting my time if I thought he would buy clothes for me or gifts to take to church for the dedication. With what I went through with the baby, I went on my own for the child dedication.”
She told Saturday PUNCH that when the rent of the shop where her husband sells generator parts was almost due, she stepped in and paid. Angela began to sell bags in the shop but the nasty situation continued.
She said she was lucky not to have been injured when she confronted her husband for cheating her in business.
“When I got home, I was in the bathroom doing some laundry; I did not hear him walk up to me. Suddenly, he pushed me violently. I was lucky I used my hand as support, every other thing in the bathroom got broken. I ran out and called a Non-Governmental Organisation, Esther Foundation, a friend introduced me to.
“They came and spoke to my husband. They came in on several occasions to talk to him but he did not listen. The suffering was too much,” she stated.
The lady told Saturday PUNCH that she was not the only one that had felt the wrath of her husband. She narrated an incident where her husband chased her sister with a machete and in the process almost cut off the finger of their first child.
Angela said, “We were low on foodstuff and kerosene to cook. I went to tell him that we needed money for food and kerosene but he told me to walk out. He insulted me, called me an idiot. I told him it was night time and the children hadn’t eaten. He dipped his hand in his pocket and brought out some N1,000 notes. He told me to look at the money, that he was not going to give me anything. He said that I and my children should eat our mouths.
“I later told my son to go and get kerosene on credit. Before the food was ready, my children came to me that they were hungry, but I directed them to their father. He chased the children away and went to buy a bottle of big stout. When he came back inside, he told me to take a look at the bottle.
“I told him what he was doing was not good, that I travel to Cotonou at least three times in a week just for the sake of the family. Instead of him to repay me with kindness, he should see what he is doing. My sister was playing with her phone and she told me to leave him alone; that since the father of the children had said they should not eat, then the children should go to sleep like that.
“He stood up and pushed my sister. I and my first child held him, we did not know there was a machete nearby. God helped my sister that our net door was not locked so she ran outside. The machete tore the net and as we were holding him, it cut my son’s hand. Our saving grace was that the machete was not too sharp, if not, it would have chopped off my son’s finger.
“There was blood everywhere so I took my son outside to help him, neighbours helped too and I took him to a pharmacy. My husband continued to pursue my sister with the machete.”
She further said that on several occasions, her husband had called her a prostitute and a witch in the presence of her children. Angela said that her husband often locked her out of the house at night and she had to sleep in the homes of their neighbours.
On one occasion, when he locked her out of the house, he promised to open the door only if she promised to move out of the house for him.
Angela told Saturday PUNCH that the next day, her daughter came and told her that her father said he would poison all of them.
That introduced a new dimension to the family crisis as she also stumbled on a shocking discovery.
“She (her daughter) said she pretended to be asleep when she heard her father say that he would put poison in our food. I was shocked and I told my daughter that nobody would die. I called a lawyer and I was advised to leave the house.
“He falls sick often; he started having signs like boil, so we went to the hospital and did a test. It turned out that he was HIV-positive. I went for mine and as God would have it, I was negative. As at then, I was pregnant with my last child,” she said.
Mrs. Esther Ogwu of Esther Foundation said she met Angela through a friend of hers who drew the group’s attention to her plight.
She stated that on her first meeting with David, he kept saying that he had an ailment until he finally said it was HIV.
Ogwu said, “The first day I was called concerning her case, there was blood all over her. She said her husband just came in that day, saw her eating and kicked the plate of food. It seemed as if mere seeing her does not make the man happy.
“From there, he started beating her. We have done a lot. We made her have her own shop because they were together in one shop and the violence was everywhere; he beats her on the street. It was getting out of hand. The first day, we had to go and meet him at home. We did not know then that the husband was HIV-positive.”
She added that the case was referred to the Lagos State Public Advice Centre because the man said he was going to poison his family. Ogwu stated that the violence was getting out of hand and the best thing was to refer them to LAGPAC.
“When he made the statement that he would poison everybody, probably it might be that his plan was to infect everybody because he does not want to die alone,” she said.
However, David contradicted his wife’s account of their marital problems in an interview with Saturday PUNCH. He said Angela was fond of fomenting trouble whenever he did not have money to provide for food.
He admitted that he was HIV-positive but denied planning to poison his family. David said that he had beaten his wife once and that was because he saw her in a pub with another man.
“I and my wife had problems some while ago when some human right activists intervened. She locked me up in Moshalashi Police Station at Iyana Ipaja for days. Ever since then, she has had power over me. I cannot talk as a man in my house. Every time she gives me problems and causes trouble because sometimes I don’t give her money for food.
“I was in the hospital for about six months and she never cared to come and see me, not to talk of her knowing where the hospital is,” he said.
He explained that his wife had a wrong set of friends who had succeeded in corrupting her.
David said, “She is friends with divorcees and they are the ones teaching her bad things. I did not send her packing from the house. She gets home late, especially on Sundays, and I’m the one that baths the children.
“There was a Sunday I could not take it any longer so I asked her to go back to where she was coming from. I said she should go and sleep there.
“I did not chase her with a machete. It was her sister that was fighting me and chased me with a knife. It was during the incident that my son got injured. How can I poison my family? I love my daughter so much and I am very fond of her. Yes, I’m HIV-positive, probably that is why she is misbehaving.”
An official of the office of the Lagos State Public Advice Centre told Saturday PUNCH that a letter was sent to the state Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation on February 1, 2013, which was received and acknowledged that same day.
“Prior to that, we initially sent a letter to the husband but he could not be reached. Then we received another complaint from the wife that he almost strangled her the previous day, which was a week after we sent the letter to WAPA.
“We decided to do a follow-up and went to WAPA. We called their attention to the letter we sent concerning Angela and informed them of her present complaint and that the husband is an HIV patient.
“They assured us that they would get on the matter immediately they are through with the case at hand. The director has instructed us to refer the case to OPD if her case is not handled by the end of this month,” they said.

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