Rape Is Never The Fault Of The Victim, We Can Do Better!
By Isah Suleiman Kandi
Since the rape allegations levelled against the founder and leader of the Commonwealth Of Zion Assembly (COZA), Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo, by a former member of COZA, Busola Dakolo, broke, the media space, especially the social media space, has seen a plethora of support for the victim and condemnation of the preacher, and an almost equal quantity of repudiation of the accuser’s claims.
The support for her has been unifying as people from all walks of the Nigerian life have given their two cents on what they feel is just a modicum of the high level male chauvinism in the country, and that for me, is a step in the right direction.
The manner to which some people who do not believe her story call her names is the reason many rape victims keep mum. Victims’ fear of being branded as social pariahs is why the rape culture seems to be rife in a century that supposedly recognizes equal treatment and respect of every individual as a basic human right. That a social media influencer could boldly tweet that the Busola ordeal may have been ‘consented rape’ shows what can be wrong with us as humans sometimes.
Due to the attention given to Busola’s story, she may just be Nigeria’s version of the Italian actress, Asia Argento in the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations in 2017 in that she could pave the way for other victims to have the courage to come forward and further broaden the #MeToo movement.
The impressive turnout of women in the simultaneous Abuja and Lagos protests against the pastor speaks volumes of the anger they feel and had suppressed because speaking up alone in the past may had led to mockery and ridiculous hush-hush from not just the male gender, but also from womenfolk who feel the need to deride and slut-shame rape victims while hiding behind the curtains of cultural beliefs, social expectations and unfortunately, misinterpreted religious scriptures.
Sexual and physical assaults are without a doubt the major forms of female oppression caused by our patriarchal social structure but it goes deeper than that. There are other subtle forms of emotional, psychological, and intellectual abuses like gender positioning, satirical condescension, mansplaining, and even the sending of unsolicited phallus pictures, et cetera. Admittedly, as a man, I didn’t think these were enough to be seen as abuses until some of my female friends opened up on how they felt about such things. It can be downright demeaning, but since us men have never walked in their proverbial shoes; we may never know how it feels.
We have a long way to go before gender equality could be fully achieved but we can begin by doing a better job of enlightening our young ones on equal treatment and respect for everyone irrespective of gender discrepancy. Rape is never the fault of the victim, we can do better!
About the author: Isah Suleiman Kandi writes from Abuja.