Stakeholders blame cultural, religious institutions for promoting domestic violence
The role of cultural and religious institutions in promotion of sexual and domestic violence came under public scrutiny yesterday with stakeholders calling for conceited efforts to stop the malaise.
Stakeholders, who spoke at a symposium in Lagos to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and 16 days of activism against gender violence, lamented what they called conspiracy of silence promoted by the two institutions, leading to upsurge of the crime.
Speaking at the event, titled, ‘It’s on us to end violence against women and children,’ organised by Access Bank’s Financial Control and Strategy Group, in collaboration with Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT), human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), stressed that the two institutions have become the greatest promoters of violence against women.
Falana, who expressed surprise that practices, such as the Oro festival tradition, which limits women’s mobility through acts of violence in some other parts of the Southwest are allowed to thrived, vowed to challenge it in court.
Some religious leaders, he added, trivialise sexual and domestic offences, adding that when they are implicated in such acts, their followers gang up against the victims for daring to make a complaint.
“If you report a case of rape, sometimes the community will gang up against you and you are stigmatised for ensuring that the law protects the victim.
“If we are going to talk about the law against domestic violence, we must look at our Bible and Quran, religious institutions, which are the greatest promoters of domestic violence.
“There’s no way you can run a modern society with what happened in the Old Testament. We have the New Testament because the Old was found to be not adequately relevant.”
“The Quran did not support discrimination against women and urged people in authority not to condone such acts,” he asserted.
Falana also lamented that female Police recruits were still not allowed to marry for the first three years without approval from their commissioners, despite a court declaration banning the practice.
Also, Lagos Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, said the state government was in the process of establishing more shelter and transit homes for victims and would be-survivors of domestic violence, so as to ensure that all the support services are available for survivors who have the courage to stand up, speak out and say, ‘Enough is Enough, I need help.’
Kazeem, represented by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Mrs. Idowu Alakija, said the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team has embarked on various innovative projects, enlightenment and sensitisation campaigns geared at increasing victims’ safety and offenders’ responsibility by providing a cross-jurisdictional response.
In his opening remarks, Group Managing Director (GMD) of the bank, Dr. Herbert Wigwe, said victims of domestic and sexual violence are usually reluctant to come forward because of fear.
He stressed that the forum was long overdue and the bank’s duty is to mobilise public participation towards addressing this menace.
“Our little girls should be trained to dream big. As women, daughters and sisters, they deserve nothing less of us,” he added.
Chairman of the bank, Mrs. Mosun Belo-Olusoga, said: “The silence of victims has been reinforced by our culture. Everyone is affected, because our inaction affects the abuser.
“We should take action whenever we notice such wrong.”
Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni, hailed the forum, saying it would helping the Police in punishing perpetrators.
“I tell families of any perpetrators who ask me to drop such cases to swear an affidavit to that effect in court and before they get back, I would have charged the case to court. No woman is inferior to a man.
“It is the educated ones that are always the culprits and that is why there is always conspiracy of silence even within the family. That is why we need to think beyond loyalty to such culprits.” He said
He restated that recently reported case of a seven-year-old boy being lynched did not happen anywhere in Lagos, adding: “I can say so with all sense of dignity. The victim was about the age of 20 to 25.
“Nevertheless, it was a barbaric act and the person who made the video of the incident is just as guilty as the people that killed him.
“Our judicial system is also at fault and all fingers should not always be pointed to the Police. We always carry the burden of whatever happens in the community, so we need your understanding.”