Nollywood actor and member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Desmond Elliot has teamed up with actress, Mercy Aigbe to headline a national campaign initiated to draw attention to the plight of widows in Nigeria.
At a press briefing organized by the Felix King Foundation in Lagos recently, Elliot and Aigbe spoke strongly against many cultural and behavioural practices in many communities in Nigeria that tend to limit the rights of widows, disinherit them and treat them following the demise of their husbands and vowed to continue speaking out until there is a social movement towards the direction of not just protecting widows but creating an environment of economic and social inclusion that would enable them deal with the pains of their losses much more easily.
“We live in a society where women are blamed each time a man dies. But no one ever thinks of the pains they have to bear in bringing up the children left behind,” Desmond said and called for legislations across the states of the federation that will criminalise maltreatment and disinheritance of widows.
Adding her voice to the challenge, Mercy Aigbe also called for a general change in attitude by society towards widows while also not leaving out the cultural practices that form the foundations of the dehumanization of widows in Nigeria.
We need to deal with some of these cultural issues that are generally skewed against women. We need to abrogate them and ensure that the rights of these widows are protected. We live in a society where economic power still rests with the men. This is why we need to talk to community leaders, especially in the rural communities where these victims, most of whom are poor and uneducated, are found so that the change can be effective, starting from the grassroots upwards,” Aigbe said.
Earlier in his address, Founder of Felix King Charity Foundation, Felix King, expressed sadness over the continued maltreatment of widows in many societies in Nigeria and spoke of the commitment of his foundation to end it in all its forms and manifestations in all parts of Africa.