Fault Lines
20 March 2017
agbapuruonwu patriarchy

Helen Agbapuruonwu: Victim of the Patriarchy

March 17, 2017 (Fault Lines) — In case you’re not in the trenches or have your head in the sand, it’s not a good time to be a lawyer. Gone are the days of six-figure incomes and a standing offer to drink your day’s woes away at the local bar. Some enterprising lawyers turn to ride-sharing services to pay their bills. Others drop their egos and apply for food stamps.

Police say Helen Agbapuruonwu*, mother of four, collected food stamps and Medicaid benefits from 2010 to 2016, while her husband, Fidelis Agbapuruonwu, was earning $1.5 million as a lawyer in Washington, D.C., NBC News 4 reports.

A quote like that makes it easy to pass judgment on Helen. Her husband’s earning millions and she’s applying for food stamps and Medicaid. At first glance, it looks like a nasty person skimming off government assistance programs.

But what if Helen was abandoned by her husband, Fidelis, and left to fend for herself and her four children? The Daily Caller makes no mention of the marital bliss (or lack thereof) between Helen and Fidelis. For all we know, Fidelis could have left his wife and kids high and dry, and Helen had no choice but to suck it up and get assistance the only way she knew how.

The Arlington County Police Department write-up sheds no light to the matter. In fact, it makes the entire situation seem more like Helen was a criminal mastermind working behind her law-abiding husband’s back.

FELONY WELFARE FRAUD, 2016-10040029, 2100 block of Washington Boulevard. Between April 1, 2010 and August 1, 2016 the subject allegedly fraudulently obtained public assistance in excess of $100,000 under false pretenses. Helen Agbapuruonwu, 38, of Arlington VA was arrested and charged with felony welfare fraud and document forgery.

What “false pretenses” Helen used to obtain government assistance for her family is unknown. It’s more likely her husband got a sweet gig with a BigLaw firm, learned he had to choose between family or money, and chose the latter. It sucks, but that’s how life works sometimes.

And poor Helen and her children are now left to foot the fictional “bill” the government says she owes based on her husband’s poor conduct. Are you still inclined to think Fidelis is innocent in this matter? Would it change your mind if you knew he cut bait and ran once Helen was fingered for welfare fraud?

Court officials believe that Agbapuruonwu may have “fled the country and is somewhere in Africa,” NBC News reports.

And there is the biggest injustice of them all. The oft-maligned patriarchy succeeds, while a woman who wants nothing better than to provide for her family faces criminal charges for simply requesting government assistance. Isn’t this the negative effects of the wage gap come to life?

While we’re on the topic, nothing in any news report mentions Helen’s working status. There’s a good chance Fidelis made her stay home with their four children and worked, skimming his millions, and neglected his family as a result. That’s the definition of toxic masculinity.

Shed no tears for Fidelis Agbapuruonwu. He is the embodiment of the patriarchy holding women down. His ilk are those who keep the “glass ceiling” in place that stops women from holding higher-paying jobs and keeping their families in the clear.

Rather, extend a moment of kindness and empathy for Helen. She had no other recourse than to petition our government for assistance and received criminal charges as a result. That’s injustice at its highest levels.

If we ever expect equality, we have to start with cases like Fidelis and Helen.

*The author of this post deliberately omitted last names because of the sincere risk of butchering the name in a typographical error.

10 Comments on this post.

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  • Jason K.
    17 March 2017 at 1:41 pm - Reply

    I cannot tell if this is satire or not.

    • Chris Seaton
      17 March 2017 at 2:21 pm - Reply

      Only your therapist knows for sure.

      • Jason K.
        17 March 2017 at 11:24 pm - Reply

        Not even the author knows for sure? Damn. I guess it shall be a mystery for the ages.

  • Conrad
    17 March 2017 at 2:08 pm - Reply

    With a name like Fidelis you’d think he would have stuck around.

    • Chris Seaton
      17 March 2017 at 2:22 pm - Reply

      It would make sense, but the bastard apparently didn’t want to live up to his martial obligations as best I can tell.

  • Anon
    17 March 2017 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    I’m skeptical that any associate — even a 15th year at MB in DC — is pulling down 1.5 million a year.

  • Jeff Davidson
    17 March 2017 at 6:03 pm - Reply

    Is there a reason why this article appears in a completely different style on my computer than any other FL articles?

    • Jeff Davidson
      17 March 2017 at 6:05 pm - Reply

      Hmmm… and then when I hit “post comment” and my comment appeared it looks like all the other FL articles again.

  • Patrick Maupin
    18 March 2017 at 1:05 am - Reply

    Agbapuruonwu is such a common last name she didn’t think anybody would figure out she was married.

  • DaveL
    18 March 2017 at 5:50 pm - Reply

    his martial obligations

    With apologies to Pat Benatar, I guess love really is a battlefield.