The Founder of Women Empowerment and Legal Aid (WELA), Mrs. Femi Falana at the weekend lamented that the cases of abuse, molestation and rape of women in the country had been on the increase.
Falana made the remark at the public presentation of a book, Topical Issues on Women’s Rights in Nigeria and the graduation of women from the WELA’s Skills Acquisition Empowerment Centre, held in Lagos.
Among others, the book presentation was graced by Deputy Managing Director of THISDAY Newspapers Group, Mr. Kayode Komolafe; former National Legal Adviser of All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr. Muiz Banire.
Speaking after the book was unveiled, Falana said discrimination against women “is not right. There has been an increase in the cases of rape and the abuse of women in the country, even the underage!
“Every day, we receive reports of underage girls that are being abused, molested and raped. There are occasions where step fathers abused their step children. We have seen instances where biological fathers raped their own children. This must stop.
“Sometimes when women comes out to make such report and we want to take it up, they come back to start begging. They do not want to make a case of it. In fact, some are afraid to speak out. Not because of anything, but because they do not want to get out of the marriage.
“Even though they are not happy in the marriage, they want to remain in it. Most times, some of them remain there and die in the process. That is why we have the cases of the woman that killed the husband and the husband that killed his wife.”
She acknowledged that the rate of domestic violence “is more prevalent against women. They are usually at the receiving end. When we looked at it, we discovered that one of the many reasons that most women do not want to get out of such marriages is because of economic dependence. Because they do not have economic liberty, they do not know where to go to after the problem.”
Falana said both the boy and the girl child should be treated equally, noting that men and women “are accorded equal fundamental human rights under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
However, according to her, the contrary is always the case. Women are treated not just differently from men, but as inferior to men; as having fewer rights than men!
She lamented that it was amazing that even in the 21st century, there were still a lot of discrimination and violence against the girl child or women.
She said such discrimination included malnutrition, lack of access to medical care and education, incest, early marriage, forced pregnancy abortion, sterilization, genital mutilation, harmful traditional practices such as dowry related violence.
She noted that other forms of discrimination “are killings, widowhood and the accompany rituals, denial of economic resources, sexual harassment, exploitation and trafficking of women.”