Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution Project Topics

Polygamy and Violence Among Rural Dwellers: Its Prevalence and Implications on Family Development in South West Nigeria

Polygamy and Violence Among Rural Dwellers Its Prevalence and Implications on Family Development in South West Nigeria

Polygamy and Violence Among Rural Dwellers: Its Prevalence and Implications on Family Development in South West Nigeria


Objectives of the Study

The specific objectives of this study are as follows:

  1. To determine the prevalence of polygamy among rural dwellers in South West Nigeria.
  2. To explore the potential relationship between polygamy and the occurrence of violence within polygamous households.
  3. To analyze the implications of polygamy and violence on family development in the context of rural South West Nigeria.




The opening of Chapter Two serves as a navigational guide, introducing the reader to the significance and arrangement of the literature review. Here, the purpose and structure of the review are succinctly outlined. This section establishes the framework for a thorough investigation into the extant literature pertinent to the study’s objectives, creating a foundation for deeper insights into the intricate dynamics of polygamy, violence, and family development within the context of rural South West Nigeria.

Conceptual Review

Polygamy as a Cultural Practice

Polygamy, a prevalent cultural practice across various societies, holds profound historical and social significance. In the South West Nigeria region, polygamy has deep roots within traditional norms and religious beliefs (Bove & Valeggia, 2019). This practice involves a man having multiple wives simultaneously, often influenced by economic, social, and gender dynamics (Fenske, 2021).

Studies by Behrman (2019) emphasize that polygamy is deeply embedded in the fabric of African societies, shaping family structures and gender roles. The cultural acceptance of polygamy is often tied to notions of prestige and honour, impacting individuals’ perceptions of familial identity (Jewkes et al., 2017). Moreover, polygamy plays a role in the distribution of resources within families, leading to complex intra-household dynamics (Baland & Ziparo, 2017).

However, as highlighted by Dim (2020), the practice of polygamy is not uniform; variations exist between rural and urban settings, with rural areas often adhering more closely to traditional norms. In these settings, polygamy can be seen as a reflection of cultural continuity and social cohesion (Heath et al., 2020). Additionally, polygamy intersects with family structures, influencing parenting practices, inheritance, and kinship ties (Smith-Greenaway & Trinitapoli, 2020).

In summary, polygamy serves as a prominent cultural practice in the South West Nigeria region, shaping family structures, gender roles, and resource distribution. Despite evolving societal dynamics, polygamy remains deeply intertwined with traditional values, impacting various aspects of familial life and community cohesion. Understanding the cultural nuances of polygamy is essential for comprehending its potential implications for intimate partner violence and family development within this context.

Intimate Partner Violence

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) encompasses a range of harmful behaviours within intimate relationships. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines IPV as physical, sexual, psychological, or economic abuse directed towards a current or former partner (García-Moreno & Amin, 2016). Research indicates that IPV is a global concern affecting both genders, with varying degrees of severity and manifestations (McCloskey et al., 2016).

IPV has been extensively studied in the context of sub-Saharan Africa, including Nigeria. Studies by Ebrahim and Atteraya (2020) emphasize the need for comprehensive understanding, as cultural norms can shape perceptions of violence acceptance. Demographic and health surveys (DHS) have become vital tools for assessing IPV prevalence and patterns across multiple countries (Corsi et al., 2022).

Muluneh et al. (2020) conducted a systematic review highlighting the complex dimensions of IPV. These include physical, emotional, and economic abuse, as well as coercive control. Such violence often emerges from power imbalances, impacting victims’ mental and physical health (Straus, 2019). It’s important to note that IPV within polygamous households might be influenced by factors specific to these arrangements (Jansen & Agadjanian, 2020).





In this chapter, the research methodology that was employed to investigate the relationship between polygamy, violence, and family development in the South West Nigeria region is outlined. The methodology chosen for the study was grounded in established research philosophies and approaches to theory development. This chapter explained the research design, population, sampling technique, data collection methods, data analysis techniques, and ethical considerations. The choices made in the methodology were well-justified based on relevant.

Research Design

The research design was fundamental to the study as it set the foundation for data collection and analysis. In this study, a quantitative survey research design was adopted. This design was appropriate for investigating the prevalence of polygamy, the incidence of violence within polygamous households, and their potential implications for family development (Anderson et al., 2020). A survey allowed for the collection of structured data from a large number of respondents, providing a broad understanding of the research phenomenon (Saunders et al., 2019). It was suitable for quantifying relationships and patterns within the study’s variables.

The use of a quantitative survey design was justified by the need to gather data from a relatively large sample size efficiently. Given the scope of the research and the complexity of the variables under investigation, a survey provided a systematic approach to collecting data that could be analyzed using statistical methods (Creswell & Creswell, 2018). This design enabled the researcher to draw generalizable conclusions about the relationship between polygamy, violence, and family development in the South West Nigeria region.

Population of the Study

The target population for this study comprised individuals residing in the South West Nigeria region. Specifically, the study focused on adults aged 18 and above who were currently or had previously been in polygamous households. The justification for this population was based on the research’s objectives, which sought to understand the experiences and perceptions of individuals within polygamous families about violence and family development.

Considering the cultural prevalence of polygamy in the South West Nigeria region, the target population was substantial, making it feasible to gather a diverse range of perspectives and experiences. While it may have been challenging to capture the entire population, the study aimed to select a representative sample that could provide valuable insights into the research questions (Anderson et al., 2020).



Table 4.1 presents the distribution of questionnaires administered for the study. Out of the total 120 questionnaires distributed, 104 were returned and completed, accounting for 86.7% of the total sample. Meanwhile, 16 questionnaires were not returned or remained incomplete, representing 13.3% of the total sample. This distribution suggests a fairly high response rate, with a substantial portion of the respondents actively engaging with the questionnaire. The 86.7% completion rate indicates a strong willingness among participants to contribute valuable data to the study, highlighting their interest in the research topic.

The high response rate is encouraging as it enhances the representativeness and reliability of the data collected. However, it’s essential to consider potential biases introduced by the 13.3% of unreturned or incomplete questionnaires. A thorough analysis of both completed and incomplete responses will be crucial to ensure the validity and generalizability of the study findings. It’s also worth exploring the reasons behind non-responses to further refine the research approach and improve data collection strategies in future studies. Overall, the distribution of questionnaires showcases a promising start to the research, with a majority of participants actively engaging in the study, but careful attention must be given to address any potential biases introduced by the non-responses.



Summary of Findings

The summary of findings from Tables 4.2 to 4.9 provides a comprehensive insight into the demographic and socio-economic characteristics of the respondents in rural South West Nigeria.

Table 4.2, which represents the gender distribution of respondents, reveals a nearly equal split between male and female respondents, with 52.9% being male and 47.1% female. This distribution suggests that the study’s sample is relatively balanced in terms of gender, allowing for a diverse range of perspectives.

Table 4.3 delves into the age distribution of respondents. The results show a varied age group representation, with a significant proportion falling within the 35-44 age range (40.4%). This distribution indicates that the study includes respondents from different age brackets, contributing to a holistic understanding of the research topic.

Table 4.4 provides insights into the marital status of the respondents. The majority of respondents (84.6%) are married, which aligns with the study’s focus on family dynamics within polygamous households. This high percentage of married individuals underscores the relevance of the research to the marital context.

Moving to Table 4.5, which explores the educational level of respondents, it is evident that a significant proportion (62.5%) have attained a college or university education. This higher educational attainment among the respondents suggests that they may have a relatively good level of literacy and awareness, potentially influencing their perceptions of polygamy, violence, and family development.

Table 4.6 inquires about the number of dependents in respondents’ households. The majority (85.6%) reported having no dependents, while 14.4% had 1-2 dependents. This finding could influence the study’s results, as the presence of dependents might affect individuals’ views on family dynamics.

Table 4.7 focuses on the occupation of respondents, with 73.1% being employed and 26.9% self-employed. This distribution highlights the study’s engagement with individuals from diverse occupational backgrounds, adding richness to the data.

Overall, these findings highlight the diversity of viewpoints among respondents regarding the complex relationship between polygamy, violence, and family development. While some perceive polygamy as hurting family life, others hold more positive or uncertain views. These varied perspectives underscore the importance of considering local contexts, cultural norms, and individual experiences when addressing issues related to polygamy, violence, and family well-being in this region.


In conclusion, the findings from the hypotheses testing shed light on the perceptions of rural South West Nigeria residents regarding polygamy, violence, and family development. The results reveal a diverse range of perspectives among respondents. While a significant portion believes that violence is not common within polygamous households and that family development remains unaffected by polygamy and violence, there are also substantial proportions of respondents who express uncertainty about these relationships. Moreover, the hypothesis that polygamy is prevalent among rural dwellers in the South West Nigeria was rejected based on the computed t-statistic exceeding the critical table value.

These findings underscore the complexity of the interplay between polygamy, violence, and family dynamics within this cultural context. It is evident that perceptions and experiences vary widely among respondents, emphasizing the need for more nuanced and context-specific research and interventions. Addressing the multifaceted nature of these issues requires a comprehensive approach that considers local customs, individual experiences, and the broader socio-cultural context. Further research and community engagement are essential to gain a deeper understanding of the dynamics at play and to develop targeted strategies to promote family well-being and address issues related to polygamy and violence in rural South West Nigeria.


Based on the findings and conclusions of this study, the following recommendations are offered:

  1. Community-Based Education: Implement community-based educational programs to raise awareness about the potential risks associated with polygamy and violence within polygamous households. These programs should be culturally sensitive and involve local leaders to ensure maximum reach and impact.
  2. Counseling and Support Services: Establish counseling and support services within rural South West Nigeria communities to assist individuals and families dealing with issues related to violence and polygamy. These services should offer a safe and confidential space for individuals to seek guidance and assistance.
  3. Legislative Reforms: Advocate for legislative reforms that address issues related to polygamy and violence, ensuring the protection of the rights and well-being of all family members. Collaborate with local lawmakers and organizations to draft and enact policies that promote gender equality and family welfare.
  4. Gender Sensitization Programs: Develop and implement gender sensitization programs aimed at challenging and changing traditional gender roles and norms. These programs should encourage equitable decision-making within households and promote respect and dignity for all family members.
  5. Community Dialogues: Organize community dialogues and forums where community members, leaders, and stakeholders can openly discuss issues related to polygamy, violence, and family development. These dialogues can help bridge the gap between traditional customs and modern challenges, fostering collaborative solutions.

Contribution to Knowledge

This study makes valuable contributions to our understanding of the intricate dynamics surrounding polygamy, violence, and family development in rural South West Nigeria. Firstly, it unveils the prevalence of polygamy in the region, providing empirical evidence of its continued existence despite evolving societal norms. This finding is significant as it contributes to the ongoing discourse on cultural practices and their persistence in specific geographical and cultural contexts.

Moreover, the study delves into the complex relationship between polygamy and violence within polygamous households. The results suggest a positive association between polygamy and violence, challenging conventional beliefs and providing a nuanced understanding of the dynamics within these families. This finding offers valuable insights into the multifaceted nature of domestic violence and its potential triggers.

Lastly, by focusing on a specific cultural and regional context, this research enriches our understanding of how cultural practices intersect with contemporary issues. It highlights the need for culturally sensitive interventions and acknowledges the role of tradition in shaping family dynamics. Overall, this study contributes significantly to the ongoing discourse on polygamy, violence, and family development, providing valuable insights for future research and policy initiatives.


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