No matter what evil is done in our despicable society, according to culture if its not in the light it is permissible. It is this narrative that has allowed sexual violence to become so steep in our community. And this is where we come in- to flip the narrative and use it to drive out this evil omen in our society. It works. It sure does work.Uche Umolu, Founder of The Consent Workshop
Here are some hard cold facts to chew on before we begin. Men are most likely to be raped than to be accused falsely of rape. Go fact check. (So save your future comments on false accusation on social media)
And of course, my favorite gut wrenching one; as of 2015, only 18 rape convictions has taken place in Nigeria. Yup, you read right: 18.
So remind me again why we do not need an alternative form of justice? My premise is crystal clear- the justice system is not for survivors. It was not crafted in anyway to protect and advocate against sexual violence. Neither is it effective. We see it everyday in the media. We saw it in the young American frat boy who got only 3 months jail time for raping an unconscious girl behind the dumpster. We saw it in 2003, when R-Kelly escaped criminal charges even though the whole world literally watched this grown man piss on a 13 year old child. The criminal justice system is not for sexual violence survivors.
But do you know what works? SHAME. UNPROVOKED, BOUNDARY-LESS, PERSISTENT AND HUMILIATING SHAME
Welcome to the me too movement. Where we utilize our voices, our platform and we shame abusers. Welcome to the me too movement; an online revolution that grants sexual abuse victims the justice they finally deserve. Harvey Weinstein. Kevin Spacey. Heck, even Robert aka R-Kelly the professional child rapist, finally got some well deserve light up his behind thanks to the me too movement. And these are celebrities. Powerful men who could not be brought down by the law alone. These are men who have had decades of accusations trailing them and still slept at night in a non-prison facility. So it really is fascinating and disingenuous when “well meaning” observer ask questions like “why not report to the police”?
You know why. You damn well why.
Social media is powerful, it garners support and energy for any cause. And oh boy, is it the center of validation. Our society thrives off social validation. And in this system, that’s straight from social media. Particularly in my Nigerian community where social capital is almost as valuable as real money. We’ve seen people build empires off one tweet. Cardi B is a megastar because of social media. Racists have their entire existence wiped out because of social media. Fact remains, this one tool is the single most powerful technology of our time, and the most controlling. And who are we not to use this to our advantage?
No matter what evil is done in our despicable society, according to culture if its not in the light it is permissible. It is this narrative that has allowed sexual violence to become so steep in our community. And this is where we come in- to flip the narrative and use it to drive out this evil omen in our society. We expose abusers. We shame. We destroy. All via social media
And It works. It sure does work.
Now if you know me, you know finding a voice for victims of sexual abuse is my passion. As a survivor, as a woman and as a college student, I am invested in this for so many reasons. In 2015, i set up an online platform asking survivors to share their story and anonymously, if they so wish. That platform still exists. It started after a young woman called sugabelly, bravely came out to name her despicable abusers. I was equal parts inspired by her bravery and horrified at the treatment she received as a result. It was a parade of insults at her and that showed we needed a safe space to share. Over 100 stories have been submitted on that site. On that platform, if an abuser was listed i blurred out the name. In some stories, I lost all ability to be political correct and kept it, but for the most part the identities of the abuser was blurred.
3 years later, on July 2nd, specifically around 8pm Toronto Time, i woke up to a complete chaos on my twitter timeline. Young Nigerian girls in colleges and high schools were outing their abusers. At this moment, I realized that silence, including omitting your abusers name (like i encouraged on my first blog) was dangerous. So i decided to also use myself as a human shield and ask people to message me their stories, name their abusers if they wish and allow me to post it. On my page, with my identity. And the rest was history.
I cannot exactly put into words the emotions I felt reading the outpour of stories. Seeing familiar names mentioned as the perpetrators. The frenzy that followed was also wild. Turned out people cared when there is a known rapists among their midst. But those stories, and the naming of abusers was enough inspiration I needed to get The Consent Workshop running.
In my immediate Nigerian circle in Canada, the shaming worked. It might have come with a few death threats, backlash and damaged friendships, but it worked. And somewhere out there, a victim found some sort of justice in her abusers being shamed. And even more so, the law finally got involved. We saw manipulators, and years of disgusting predatory patterns exposed. It was worth every second.
So why are we so against social media crucification of abusers again? When we know it works? Or at least gives some of sort of semblance to Justice. And i’m not saying that every victim gets full justice because their abuser is now the TL’s known rapist. No. But it is better than nothing. However I know it is simply not enough. We can shame abusers into a hole but what real damage is caused in comparison to the life time trauma of their victims? We need a functioning justice system to back this up. We need to stop silencing survivors.
So next time you wonder why an abuser brings her case to twitter, remember that for every second she remains silent, her justice becomes more of a dying dream.
My name is Uche and I am the Founder and Executive Director of a youth led movement aimed at deconstructing rape culture, and I advocate for shame.