I’m trying to stay out of this conversation, because I know I have biases. But I try to be aware of my biases and rise above them. I have a deep aversion for unbridled power and impunity, especially the one displayed by men who claim to represent God/s everywhere and in Nigeria especially. I also harbour a sort of militant abhorrence for rape and degradation of human beings generally. These may therefore colour my reactions sometimes.

But apparently, staying out of this one is not something I can do for long.

Let me say this first and get that out of the way. Every accused person is presumed innocent until proven otherwise. At the same time, it is egregious, sadistic and inhumane to silence anyone who believes he/she has been wronged.

Therefore, Biodun Fatoyinbo stands accused and presumed innocent until proven otherwise.

Are there evil women who would frame a man with whom they have enjoyed a consensual sexual relationship, just to get at him? Sure. It is the most despicable act a human being can carry out, and I am always for such individuals to be punished to the full extent of the law wherever and whenever such a person is found. Lives can be ruined forever because of false accusations. The memories of “when they see us” is still fresh.

In nigeria, however, I daresay that framers are not in the majority. The stigma of rape in Nigeria is too much for anyone who has no business with rape to be seen anywhere near it. The stakes are too high. But do people still do it? Yes. And it is worse in societies that have destigmatised rape to the extent that victims come out freely, and non victims can and do take advantage of the supportive atmosphere given to victims, to prey on innocent males.

The next item on my agenda is those who are asking all sorts of questions about Busola’s allegations. There are several inhumane, foolish and patently evil ones like: what was she wearing when she claimed she was raped? I have expunged every domestic monkey who asked that question from my friends list. I would die young if I continued sharing the same space with those ones.

This missive is directed at those who are asking other types of questions, out of genuine ignorance: why is she coming out now? Granted some are asking out of extreme malice. This is not for this latter category. It’s for the former.

In rape, a victim is defiled, humiliated and dehumanised. In some cases, a victim may actually be crying and moaning uncontrollably while the evil act is being carried out, to the vulgar jeers of the perpetrator. So one can imagine a raped person turning the anger and shame inwards to herself, for physiological sexual responses she has no control over, and for an act she was powerless against.

How many persons would ever disclose all this type of experience to anyone without any support? Let alone a child, an adolescent or even a young women, in a patriarchal, judgemental society that hinges the value of a woman on her hymen, while men and women bask in the hypocrisy of nonexistent virginity to improve their chances of finding mates? And in a society where many young people do not have confidants? Absent parents? Hostile parents? Parents children are too afraid to talk to?

Rape is a deeply deeply traumatic experience. Many sufferers prefer to bury it deep in their unconscious and many never find the courage to tell a soul. It is even worse in this environment if you’re a young woman or a woman of any age in a deeply patriarchal society. That a woman is raped means in some cultures that she has lost value, brought disgrace to her family, and most importantly, brought it upon herself! Who comes out to say she was raped in such an oppressive, accusatory, hostile environment, with lifelong repercussions? And so, many young women every year keep quiet and suffer through their humiliation and trauma alone, for many decades sometimes, until they get empowered by wealth, status, information or by sheer will, or by the safety, security and power found in numbers, especially of other survivors of rape. For many, it takes time. A very long time, because even their own immediate family blame them for getting raped. She who was the victim is blamed for getting raped. We are a very judgemental society. We can’t over emphasise that.

Do you know what even complicates things more? Some people actually didn’t know it was rape as at the time they were raped! An adult lured them and took advantage of them when they were minors; someone on the favourable end of the power differential was dangling a subtle threat that seems innocuous to the onlooker but that has assumed the proportion of an existential terror to a woman who is the bread winner of a struggling family that is terrified of losing that source of bread… the possibilities are endless and can sometimes slide into controversial waters of the thin line between a willing victim and a coerced victim… Given absolute freedom, everyone would rather go into sexual relationships with their freewill and be able to control when sex start and when it ends.

Why is she crying rape now? Did she not enjoy it? Was she not moaning. Trust me it is possible for one to be raped, enjoy the sex and it would still be rape. A man being raped would have an erection and still ejaculate. Why can’t a woman who is being raped? Would a delicious meal taste bitter because it was your enemy who cooked it? Would one’s taste buds suddenly lose their function because an enemy coked the food? Part of sexuality is under the control of parts of our brain and spinal cord that we can’t control. So enjoying sex, moaning or having an orgasm does not convert rape to consensual sex. It’s purely physiological.

I’m concluding by saying that we need to kill this culture of silence that encourages men to be serial rapists, because they know every societal factor and the very lax law enforcement milieu is on their side. And we must also withhold jungle justice until a man is convicted, to pronounce him guilty. Multiple, precisely directed, believable allegations may call a man’s character into serious question, it never convicts him. But we must continue to demolish the structures that promote the culture of silence: stigma, fear, patriarchy, shame, weak and complicit law enforcement and judiciary.

It is a mental health and development issue. That’s where it eventually ends.

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