Grace Ogiehor-Enoma is the Executive Director of the National Association of Nigerian Nurses in North America, an initiative created to tackle the high rate of domestic violence against nurses in the Nigerian diaspora.
After 10 Nigerian women with eight of them, being nurses were killed in the US by their partners between 2006 and 2008, Grace decided to act.
She started giving out her phone number at community gatherings and events and it became an unofficial, actual hotline for Nigerian men abusing or contemplating killing their partners, couples seeking help, and for abused women.
The unofficial hotline was part of her organisation’s efforts to understand and tackle domestic violence among Nigerians in the US.
In 2011, NANNA carried out an investigation with the intent of knowing the exact reason for violence in the Nigerian diaspora.
Findings revealed that these women earned more than their partners, which often leads to suspicions of infidelity.
It also revealed a clash between the culture of an African man, who is used to power and an educated African woman living in a country that is women-friendly.
NANNNA is currently collaborating with two psychiatrists at Yale University, to formally research domestic violence against nurses in the US and Nigeria.
The abuse is said to be so extreme sometimes but the women refuse to leverage on the different sources of aid available to them in the US because of the belief that they have to be married to gain the respect of the community.
The investigation carried out by NANNA revealed that, while Nigerian nurses marry Nigerian-American men as tickets to a higher income and better quality of life, some Nigerian-American men go to Nigeria to marry nurses or women they later convince to adopt the profession.
After bringing their partners to the US and funded their nursing education, some of the men feel entitled to their partners’ salaries and insist on controlling their income
However, the men find it difficult to control their partners, hence, they resort to violence.
The calls to Ogiehor-Enoma’s hotline are decreasing, and she doesn’t know why but she attributes it partly to a lack of awareness and people’s unwillingness to discuss domestic violence.
Ogiehor-Enoma believes abuse remains normalised below the surface and the Nigerian diaspora is trying to save face and tackle its issues internally.
Grace explained that external assistance and resources are needed for programmes targeting men.
Read her full interview with ALJAZEERA here