A women’s right activist and National Director of the Women Empowerment and Legal Aid (WELA), Funmi Falana, has expressed displeasure over a statement credited to the Lagos State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Mrs. Lola Akande, at a public event in Lagos last week where she partly blamed women for domestic violence.
She noted that the commissioner was reported to have said: “It is no longer news that many women have lost their lives through domestic violence. The more we try to put the blame on the menfolk, the more we will continue to turn blind eyes to the fact that many women are the cause of the domestic violence that we see today … Some women also cause violence by using abusive words and misguided utterances that can provoke the men.”
Falana said as such statement flies in the face of reality, it was a gross embarrassment to womenfolk especially coming from a person appointed to protect and defend the rights of women against domestic violence in Lagos State.
“By this statement, the commissioner has portrayed herself as an ally and defender of men who perpetrate domestic violence in the society. Certainly, the commissioner did not assort her mind to the fact that domestic violence includes rape, abandonment of spouses and children, denial of care and provision for pregnant women, denial of children’s rights to education and other socio-economic rights. Are we to believe that the many under age girls sexually abused by step fathers, co-tenants and neighbours or even girls taken out of school provoke the perpetrators of such acts of domestic violence?
“It was recently reported in one of the states in the North Central zone that not less than one thousand women have been raped by criminally-minded men in the last one year. Many more have been victims of kidnapping, slavery and ritual killings. Since the commissioner cannot defend her position in the light of the increasing wave of abuse of women in the society, WELA is compelled to demand a retraction of the statement as it is capable of encouraging men who may want to engage in domestic violence,” she added.