By Emma Njoku
A non-governmental organisation (NGO), Women Empowerment and Legal Aid (WELA) has expressed disappointment over recent comments credited to the Lagos State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Mrs Lola Akande, wherein she allegedly blamed women for domestic violence.
A statement signed by Mrs Funmi Falana described the commissioner’s remarks as “gross embarrassment to womenfolk.” The statement quoted the commissioner as saying: “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.”
WEMA said while the commissioners comment flied 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.”
Mrs Falana said demanded apology from the commissioner, for allegedly portraying herself “as an ally and defender of men who perpetrate domestic violence in the society.”
She said: “Certainly the commissioner did not advert 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?”
She recalled recent report that in one of the states in the North central zone, not less than 1,000 women had been raped by criminally minded men in the last one year.
“Many had been victims of kidnapping, slavery and ritual killings. Since the honourable 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.”