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THE MANAGEMENT OF DOMESTIC CONFLICTS; A CASE STUDY OF FIDA IN RIVERS STATE. By Juliet Nnadozie. M.sc. Peace Conflict, and Security Studies. Faculty of Social Science. Rivers State University of Arts and Science. Port Harcourt

ABSRACT

The purpose of the
study was to find out the cases of domestic conflicts in Rivers State and how
FIDA has been able to manage these conflicts between 2008 and 2018. It was an analytical
research with emphasis on data collected. Data collected was analyzed. Findings
revealed that domestic conflicts did exist in Rivers State and that FIDA has
been able to resolve some of these conflicts. However, there are some cases
that they could not resolve. Cases of failure to supply necessaries and
domestic violence which could not be resolved through mediation, where being
petitioned to Police.

. To prevent or manage crisis therefore will depend
largely on the mutual understanding of Couples involved. Based on this
conclusion, it is recommended that FIDA should from time to time organize
forums, workshops and seminars for couples in Rivers State so as to sensitize

the married and prospective couples to enhance marital
stability in our societies.

KEYWORDS.

Conflict, domestic conflict, Causes, management strategies, FIDA, Rivers State, conflict resolution, conflict management.

INTRODUCTION;

Conflict is a universal phenomenon which occurs
between individuals, group and Nation worldwide. Allan (2018). Married couples
experience some level of conflicts in their relationship. This is expected as
couples come from different cultural background, have different ideology, belief
and family background, opinions, values, needs, desires and habits. Different
Socio-cultural and economic and religious factors not well managed have affect the
marriage institutions thus causing many problems which both young and old
married couples must contend with.

Domestic conflicts can be defined as the state of tension
or stress between marital partners as the couple try to carry out their marital
roles.
(Tolorunleke, 2008)  The fact that
two people agree or plan to live together as husband and wife calls for
different expectations and hopes, some of which might be fulfilled while others
remain unfulfilled. Bearing in mind the fact that no human relationship is
devoid of conflict and misunderstanding, once in a while, many families within
our society’s experiences difficulties as a result of Domestic conflicts. This
constitutes a major threat to sustainability of marital peace and stability in
our societies both small and large. (Tolorunleke, 2008) 

In every marriage, little things can slip into the
relationship, and as Okafor (2002) puts it, when these little things are not
properly handled, they can cause friction and eventual separation between the
marriage partners that may widen over the years. Marital instability abounds in
our society today and this is largely due to domestic conflicts that couples
experience in the process of trying to perform their marital roles as demanded
by their society. Most often than none, most domestic conflict escalates to the
point of mediation and negotiation by an external and neutral body.

The focus of this paper is on “FIDAL management of
domestic conflict in Rivers State from 2008 to 2018”

In Rivers State today, the rate at which marital
couples experience separation and divorce is quite alarming. Many families have
been and some are still seriously at war with themselves simply because of
their failure to arrest, manage or resolve conflicting issues between couples
or families. (Tolorunleke (2008)

Many families in Rivers State are going through a lot
of stress and hardships as a result of marital conflicts. The resultant effects
on the children, couples themselves and Rivers State in general are devastating, as had been
observed by the researcher and which has consequently put a burden on the
researcher to carry out this study.

Purpose of
the study

The purpose
of this research work was to carry out a study on how FIDA had been able to
manage and resolve cases of domestic conflicts which had been brought to them
to mediate upon, from the year 2008 to 2018.

In order to
understand how FIDA has helped in the management of domestic conflicts, let’s
attempt a definition of FIDA and what it stands for.

WHAT DOES FIDA STAND FOR?

FIDA which is the
acronym for the Spanish name Federacion International de Abogadas which
translates to “International Federation of Woman Lawyers”, is a
non-Governmental, and Non-profit Organisation made of women lawyers called to
the practise of law in Nigeria. FIDA was formed in 1964 by Mrs. (Lady) Aduke
Alakija in Nigeria. FIDA Nigeria is a member of FIDA international founded in
1944 in Mexico by a group of women lawyers from Cuba, El Salvador, Mexico,
Puerto Rico and United States of America.

FIDA Nigeria had been
in existence for the past fifty years and has branches in thirty-three states
of the nation of which Rivers State is one of them. Their mission includes
promoting, protecting and preserving the rights, interest and well-being of
women and children through the use of legal framework to ensure that they live
free from all forms of discrimination, violence and abuse in the society. One
of the objectives of FIDA Nigeria is to enhance and promote the welfare of
women and children, realising that the happiness of the home and the strength
of the society depends on women and children’s well-being.

On this premise, the
management and resolution of domestic conflicts by FIDA is very imperative, as
well as necessary so as to bring sanctity in the home as well as in Rivers
state.

UNDERSTANDING CONFLICTS

According to Allan, (2018),
conflict is a universal phenomenon and is not limited to our own local
environment. Explaining further, he
says thatwhenever one hears of
conflicts, what comes to mind is war, misunderstanding, fighting, quarrels,
arguments, crises and what have you.

To him conflicts is
neither positive, nor negative. It is the response given to it by the
individual that determines how it turns out. In essence he says that he agrees
with the Chinese who sees conflict as an opportunity or chance for change, as
well as risk or danger.

When couple have a
negative connotation of conflicts, they tend to handle conflicts in a
destructive way with negative effects. However, having a positive approach to
conflict helps one to manage it constructively. This will yield positive result
like dialogue, development, change, understanding, friendship, improved
communication, progress, peace, love and relationship building. (Allan, 2018)

It is advisable therefore
that people should develop open minds towards conflict, knowing that it might
be an opportunity for positive change and development, if properly managed and
not avoided or ignored to result into violence and anarchy.

CONFLICT MANAGEMENT AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION.

In settling domestic
conflicts, two methods could be applied. This is dependent on the gravity or
the enormity of the conflict. Conflicts could be resolved or managed to prevent
it from escalating further.

CONFLICT RESOLUTION.

Harvard Law School
Daily Blog, defines Conflict resolution as the informal or formal process that
two or more parties use to find a peaceful solution to their dispute. It is a
way two or more parties, find a peaceful solution to a disagreement among them.
This disagreement may be personal, financial, political or emotional. There are
wide range of methods of addressing conflicts. They include, negotiation,
mediation, diplomacy and creative peace building. It also involves the process
of litigation, arbitration, and formal complaint process through an ombudsman.
The concept of conflict resolution can also encompass the use of non-violent
methods such as civil resistance also called non-violent resistance) by a party
to a conflict as a means of pursuing its goal, on the grounds that such means
are likely than armed struggle to lead to effective resolution of the conflict.(Allan,
2018).

Conflict
resolution as conceived by Allan(2018) is sensitive to culture. He said that in
some western cultural context, such as Canada and the United States, successful
conflict resolution usually involves fostering communication among disputants,
problem solving and drafting agreements that meet their underlying needs, in
these situation, he said that conflict resolvers often talk about finding a
win-win solution or mutually, satisfying scenario, for everyone involved.

Swami (1992) sees a
different approach to conflict resolution which may also result to a win-win
solution, especially in the non-western cultural context. This he says employs
direct communication between disputants that explicitly addresses the issues at
stake in the conflict. However, he said this method can be perceived as being
very rude and therefore makes the conflict worse and may as well delay the
resolution. He rather suggest the involvement of a religious, tribal or
community leaders who can communicate difficult truth indirectly through a
third party, and make suggestions through stories.

CONFLICT MANAGEMENT.

Conflict management as defined by Harvard law school
daily blog, is
the process of limiting the negative aspects of conflict while
increasing the positive aspects of conflict. The aim of conflict
management
is to enhance learning and group outcomes, including
effectiveness or performance in an organizational setting.

Study.com defines Conflict management as
the practice of being able to identify and handle conflicts sensibly, fairly,
and efficiently.

Allan (2018) sees
conflict management as a long-term management of intractable conflicts. It is
as he says, the label for the variety of ways by which people handle
grievances-standing up for what they consider to be right against what they
consider to be wrong.

There are a number of responses one can have
in Conflict Management. As musala.org and Allan (2018) put it, some people
react to conflict violently, with war, terrorism, genocide, etc. There are also
non-violent methods of dealing with conflict, which are more common in our
daily lives. They identified five main approaches to conflict management, which
are Competing, Avoiding, Accommodating, Compromising, and Collaborating. They
said that we are all able to use any of the five approaches, and we all employ
a variety of ways to deal with conflict. However, they opined that different
people tend to use some of the approaches much more than they use others.
Sometimes this is a result of a person’s character, or simply a person’s habit.

Competing

The competing approach can be summed up in
the statement: “Do it my way or not at all.” Some strategies adopted in this
approach are to compete, control, outwit, coerce and fight the other person to
achieve your goals. They are impatient with dialogue and information gathering.
The qualities of competitors are authoritarian, and threatened by disagreement;
they attempt to maintain the status quo, and react in times of crisis. The
competitor has a high concern for his/her personal goals and a very low concern
for the relationship with the other person.

The competing approach is often appropriate
when an emergency looms, when you are sure you are right and being right is
more important than preserving relationships, or the issue is trivial and
others do not really care what happens. This approach is inappropriate when
collaboration has not yet been attempted, cooperation with others is important,
it is used routinely for most issues, or when the self-respect of others is
needlessly diminished

Avoiding

The avoider employs strategies of fleeing,
denying, ignoring, withdrawing, delaying, and wishing only to hope and pray.
Avoiders prefer to be with other people who will avoid issues as well. They
refuse to dialogue or gather information to help deal with conflict. Some characteristics
of avoiders include passiveness, timidity, the inclination to moralize, and an
aim to weather the storm; they find discussions and group life intrusive, and
they are a bit chaotic and unfocused. People who avoid conflict and Conflict
Management have a lose-lose outcome, as the avoider has both a low concern for
his or her relationship with the other person, and low personal goals as well.
People who engage in this behavior do not know how to resolve conflict or
continue in meaningful relationships after conflict occurs   

The avoiding approach is often appropriate
when the issue is trivial, the relationship is insignificant, time is short and
a decision is not necessary, and you have little power but still wish to block
the other person. The avoiding approach is inappropriate when you care about
the relationship and the issues involved, when avoidance is used habitually for
most issues, when negative feelings may linger, and when others would benefit
from caring confrontation.

Accommodating

The accommodator uses strategies to agree,
appease, or flatter the other person, and prefers to be in conflict with others
who force their opinions so the accommodator only has to yield in order to
manage the conflict. Like the avoider, the accommodator refuses to dialogue or
gather information. The characteristics of an accommodator can be summed up by
their ineffectiveness in groups, and their indecisive behavior/attitude; they
are easily swayed, need to please everyone, and allow discussions to drift. Accommodators
tend to have low personal goals and a high concern for their relationship with
the person they are in conflict with.

The accommodating approach is best to use
when you encounter an issue you do not really care about, you are powerless but
have no wish to prevent the other person from achieving their goals, or you
realize you are wrong. This approach is inappropriate when you are likely to
harbor resentment as a result, and you use this habitually in order to gain
acceptance (which will result in depression or a lack of self-respect).

Compromising

The compromiser uses strategies such as
bargaining, reducing expectations, dividing desired achievements so everyone
gets something, and splitting the difference. Compromisers prefer to work with
people who compromise or accommodate. The compromiser tolerates the exchange of
views, although he or she finds this uncomfortable. Some characteristics of the
compromiser are cautious but open, and he or she urges others not to be too
open or outspoken. The compromiser has found a mid-way balance between concern
for the relationship and meeting personal goals. The

Compromiser expects to win some arguments and
lose others.

 This
approach is best used when cooperation is important but the time or resources
are limited, when faced with a stalemate and the only way to overcome it is to
settle for a less than ideal solution, and when efforts to collaborate will be
misunderstood as forcing. This approach is least appropriate when finding the
most creative solutions possible is essential, or when you cannot live with the
consequences.

Collaborating

The final approach is the collaborating
approach. The collaborator uses strategies such as gathering information,
looking for alternatives, dialoguing openly, and also welcoming disagreements.
Collaborators prefer to work with people who collaborate or compromise. They
tend to focus on information gathering, and their characteristics.

Collaborating works best when the issues and
relationship are both significant, cooperation is important, a creative end is
important, and reasonable hope exists to address all the concerns. This
approach is often inappropriate when time is short, the issues are important,
you are overloaded, and the goals of the other person are wrong.

There is distinction
between conflict management and conflict resolution. The later as Allan (2018)
puts it refers to resolving the dispute to the approval of one or both parties,
whereas the former concerns an ongoing process that may never have a
resolution.  

 Research questions

The study
was designed to answer the following questions:-

What is the
underlining causes of marital conflicts that are prevalent among couples in Rivers
State?

What are the
types or form, of domestic conflict cases brought before FIDA for mediation and
resolution between the year 2008 to 2018?

What are the
conflict management style adopted by FIDA in the resolution of these conflicts?

Did FIDA
make use of conflict resolution style or conflict management style in handling
the reported cases of domestic conflicts that were brought to them during the
year under review and why?

Was there
any kind of follow up to the cases of domestic conflict already managed or
resolved?

CAUSES OF DOMESTIC CONFLICTS IN RIVERS STATE.

According to Barr
Esther Achor, a legal practitioner and Public Relation Officer of FIDA, Port
Harcourt, Rivers State, there are several reasons for the manifestation of
conflicts between couples in Rivers State. This she summarised thus;

  1. Failure
    to supply necessaries.
  2. Domestic
    violence.
  3. Emotional
    abuse.
  4. Verbal
    abuse.
  5. Family
    interference.
  6. Infidelity.
  7. Childlessness.
  8. Lack
    of respect and values.
  9. Lack
    of communication.

10. Lack of trust and
failure to consummate.

11. Alcohol and
drugs.

FAILURE TO SUPPLY NECESSARIES;
This has to do with the inability of the man as the head of the family to take
care of the needs of the family such as food, clothing, shelter and health.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: Cases
of battering in the home are on the increase in Rivers State. This to a greater
extent is a major cause of domestic conflicts in the home leading to breakup or
divorce.

EMOTIONAL
ABUSE; Cases of abandonment or neglect by one of the couples, and of couples
not performing their conjugal responsibility to each other had equally led to
domestic conflicts.

VERBAL
ABUSE; The use of abusive words by either one or both couples on each other has
as also exacerbated the issue of domestic conflicts in Rivers State.

FAMILY
INTERFERENCE: There are cases whereby the parents of one of the couples tries
to impose things on married couple which does not go well on one of the couples
involved and this has led severally to domestic conflict.

INFIDELITY;
This is another major cause of domestic conflict which has  most times led to divorce, or even  death in extreme case. Some reasons for
infidelity or unfaithfulness in marriage, especially by the women in Rivers
State ranges from, inability of the man to carter for the family, lack of love
care and affection by the man, etcetera. Infidelity is a gender issue, as most
men who cheat on their wives are generally accepted while the women are
condemned for the act and rapidly divorced.

CHILDLESSNESS:
Children are most cherished as blessings from God. Therefore the inability of a
woman to conceive and bear children is considered as a curse. This attracts
pressures from other family members and this interference leads to conflicts.

LACK
OF RESPECT AND VALUE: The inability of couples to respect each other brings
about conflict. Some married couples have lost their family values and as such
has taken to drinking, excessive smoking and womanising, incessant fighting and
quarrelling. This had in effect, had a bad toll on the children who may take
this as a way of life.

LACK OF
COMMUNICATION: Communication gap also brings about domestic conflict. This is
the inability of couples to relate their feelings and concerns to each other.
This leads to lack of understanding between them thereby generating conflicts.

LACK OF TRUST AND
FAILURE TO CONSUMMATE:  a lot of
marriages had hit the rocks due to the inability of couples to trust each other
and also not been able to consummate their marriage. Some couples (either the
husband or the wife) deny each other their conjugal right and this leads to
conflict in the home.

11. Alcohol and
drugs. Due to depression, frustration and habits, some couples take to
excessive intake of alcohol. This makes the indulger, lose focus, character and
good moral, thereby leading to arguments, quarrels and fights between couples.

HOW FIDAL
RIVERS STATE HAS BEEN ABLE TO MANAGE CASES OF DOMESTIC CONFLICT THAT HAVE BEN
BROUGHT BEFORE IT BETWEEN 2008-2019.

Barr
Esther Achor, who has provided most of the information her-in said that FIDA
employed the use of both conflict resolution and conflict management in their
approach to ending or managing domestic conflict cases brought before them.

The
methods she enumerated that were used include:

  1. mediation
    between the husband and the wife
  2. Caucusing.
    This means speaking and advising the parties involved separately.
  3. Visiting
    the couples house if need be.
  4. Inviting
    family members in case of Interference.
  5. Enter
    an agreement to be signed by both parties to maintain peace and harmony.
  6. Petition
    to Police in case of domestic violence.
  7. File
    a complaint for failure to supply necessaries to court if mediation fails.

Barr
Esther Achor also said that a follow-up is usually done every six months and
couples are also advised to call their official lines in case of emergency or
when the matter rises up again.

  1. TABLE
    OF CASES RECORDED AT THE CENTRE                     BETWEEN 2008-2108

RAPE DEFILEMENT/
INCEST
FAILURE TO SUPPLY
 NECESSARIES /
ABANDONEMENT
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE/
CHILD LABOUR
COSTODY/
ACCESS
WIDOWHOOD PRACTICE
/INHERITANCE
RIGHTS
ASSULT/
BATTERY
MARIMONIAL
CASES
TOTAL
150 2700/7 4700/ 2100 40 1650/1930 36 2300 1930 17,043

OUTLINE OF CASES RESOLVED

S/N Type
of cases.
Number
of cases.
 
1 RAPE 15  
2 Domestic
Violence (assault & battery)
104
– (44 & 60) respectively
 
3 Access/Custody 120
– 70 & 50(respectively.
 
4 Defilement 75  
5 Matrimonial/
inheritance/Abandonment
76  
6 Failure
to provide necessaries.
171  
  TOTAL 561  

The
above tables shows that FIDA has handled several cases of

domestic
conflicts during the year under review. They have also employed the use of
conflict resolution and conflict management style in handling the cases brought
before it. However, it was discovered that some cases which were hard for them
to mediate upon where referred to the Police

Conclusion

From the study,
it was crystal clear that conflicts in marriage are inevitable. However,
marital conflicts can be managed when they occur or prevented in resulting to
divorces and partial or total collapse of homes. This will depend largely on
the couple’s mutual understanding and the eagerness on the part of the couples
in handling the conflict. For any marriage to success, couples should put in a high
level of endurance, tolerance, patience, love and effective management of
individual differences. Successful marriages as opined by Nadir (2003), are not
those

in which
there has never been conflict but those in which conflicts have served useful
purposes.

Therefore,
in order to foster marital stability and satisfaction, couple should learn to
be fair, objective and realistic when dealing with their problems and
differences. FIDA on her on part should be able to devise means and effective
strategies of helping married couples in Rivers State understand the need to
love, care, understand and tolerate each other in order to maintain stability
in the home and Rivers State in general.

References.

Allan B.D (2018), “Peace and Conflict Studies” TCL
publishers, Lagos & Abuja.

Augsburger
D(1992), Conflict Mediation Across Cultures, Lousiille, Kentucky; Westminister /John
Knox Press.

Havard Law school Daily Blog.www.pon.havard .edu/daily/conflict
Resolution.

http//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/conflict management

htpp// study.com/academy.

Ovieniyi  A
(2011), “Conflicts and violence in Africa; Causes, Sources and Type. Transcend
Media Service.

Tolorunleke C. A (2008). Causes Of Marital Conflicts Amongst
Couples in Nigeria: Implication for Counselling Psychologists.
Elsevier Ltd. This is
an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license.
www.musala.org/artile/2012/2/10/conflictmanageent.conflcitresolution.

julietsc Administrator
Juliet Nnadozie is a peace advocate, a character moulder, and a home builder. She is also a script writer, a movie director, producer, editor and an actress. She is the CEO Passions Global Media; an outfit that is into talent hunt and childrens drama productions.
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julietsc Administrator
Juliet Nnadozie is a peace advocate, a character moulder, and a home builder. She is also a script writer, a movie director, producer, editor and an actress. She is the CEO Passions Global Media; an outfit that is into talent hunt and childrens drama productions.

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