The truth is, the pain of women and girls — including the kind of pain caused by sexual violence — simply isn’t a big deal in Nigeria. If anything, generalized female pain is a fundamental aspect of our social order. The more abuse a woman is able to meekly accept, the more virtue she is accorded by the people around her. And those who speak out against abuse are put back in their place.
In 2019, for example, a photographer, Busola Dakolo, said that Biodun Fatoyinbo, pastor of a hugely popular prosperity-gospel church, raped her on two occasions about 20 years ago, when she was a minor. She was not the first woman to accuse Mr. Fatoyinbo of rape. The pastor stepped down temporarily, but was back in the pulpit within a month.
That’s the church. In the state, it’s much the same. In 2016, a male senator, Dino Melaye, threatened another senator, Remi Tinubu, with rape. “Nothing will happen!” he bragged. Not only were there no consequences for Mr. Melaye’s threat, a rally was organized in his defense — complete with branded T-shirts, banners and posters. He had spoken the truth: In Nigeria, nothing happens when women are raped.
Perhaps Ms. Babatayo knew that. Her allegations against D’banj were followed by a strange series of events. Her original tweets were deleted and promotional videos for D’banj’s music were posted to her Twitter account. She was arrested by the police and detained for two days. Eventually, after several days of intense scrutiny and upheaval, Ms. Babatayo put out a statement saying that she and D’banj had reached a mutually satisfying “non-monetary” settlement. “I just want my peace,” she said.
As a survivor myself, and one who has come forward publicly as well, I have some small idea of what Ms. Babatayo meant. It is excruciatingly unrewarding, for most of us, to raise our voices against the crushing weight of Nigeria’s culture of misogyny.
I always believed Ms. Babatayo. And I always will. When confronted with rape allegations such as those leveled against D’banj, we tend to ask, “Given the circumstances, why would this man rape someone?” But in Nigeria, the more productive question to ask is, “Why would he not?”
OluTimehin Adegbeye (@OhTimehin) is a writer and a columnist at The Correspondent.
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