By Jasminee Sahoye
Retired Toronto Police constable Ojo Tewogbade is urging men within the Black community to treat their wives and spouses with respect and dignity and not to abuse them because “God created women to complement men.”
His comments were made as a guest speaker at a fundraising dinner organized by Women of Excellence Support and Relief Organization (WESRO), which supports abused women and women survivors of domestic violence.
Tewogbade, married for 46 years, says the first time he heard the term “she’s my baby mother” is when he came to Canada some 40 years ago. “According to African culture, we don’t have to have the certificate,” he said, referring to his marriage to his wife.
However, a few days before leaving Nigeria for Canada in 1972, he was told by immigration officials that he was not married and it was then that he signed documents to make his marriage legal.
He said that, as a police officer, he has been called to domestic violence disputes and has tried to resolve them but due to the law regarding domestic violence, these disputes can have a negative impact, especially on the husband or spouse.
“The husband will be locked up for about two days to prevent the continuation of the offence – that’s what they call it in the Criminal Code – and when we release him, we tell him don’t go back home, don’t phone your wife, don’t go near her, but you must continue to pay the rent. So if you think about it, men, stay with your wife because I believe it’s cheaper …”
His advice? “Please, stop punching your wife, stop making her life difficult. Besides, you know the law.”
The father of three told WESRO’s Changing Lives Fundraising Dinner at the Jamaican Canadian Association about his marriage.
“When a man, for 46 years, stands before you and the dear almighty God – yes we have disputes, yes we have disagreement, if you don’t disagree, we never agree – but 46 years, this women has put up with me. I have never, ever once, never even call her a name, let alone put my hand on my wife.
“We have to understand each other that I am not any more perfect than she is. For every day that goes through, we are learning,” he said.
“It’s not really necessarily you the husband or wife who suffers, it’s the kids; because they withdraw from one home to another. How do you take a kid from his or her own home and put him in a shelter or a group home and expect them to do better?
“And then you know what really gets me angry? Now that kid now is angry because his parents are not there for him but the school now takes him to a medical doctor and they said he suffers from one of these things, ADT, or whatever it is.
“If my dad is not there for me or my mom is not there for me, why wouldn’t I have attention deficit?”