ESPN suspends sports pundit Stephen A. Smith for suggesting women 'provoke' domestic violence

Smith said women should remove elements of "provocation" to stop "horrible dudes" from attacking them

American sports channel ESPN has suspended pundit Stephen A. Smith for a week after he suggested women could prevent cases of domestic violence by "not provoking" men.

Smith made the controversial comments on the network's "First Take" show last Friday while discussing the NFL's two-game suspension of Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice.

Rice was arrested and charged with assault following a physical altercation with his then fiancee, and now wife, Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City casino last February. Footage of the incident showed Rice dragging an unconscious Palmer from the lift to his hotel room after knocking her out.

Discussing the two-game suspension, Smith said: "Let's make sure we don't do anything to provoke wrong actions..."

He continued: "With men putting their hands on women, it's obviously a very real issue in our society....I think that just talking about what guys shouldn't do, we got to also make sure that you can do your part."

Smith went on to say Rice deserved more than a two-game suspension for attacking his wife but still insisted that women should do their part by removing "elements of provocation".

Following a strong reaction on social media, the commentator issued an apology on Monday describing it as the "most egregious mistake" of his career, adding he experienced domestic violence in his own family but failed to use the right words to "assert his point of view". He didn't elaborate further.