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Rape, Call-out Culture and Dangers of A Single False Narrative

In June 2020, the world was literally in black. As the world battled the COVID – 19 pandemic and a nationwide demonstration against the incessant killing of African-Americans by the police force, here in Nigeria, a media uproar erupted as information of a rape epidemic came to light. This resulted in a frenzy on social media, as a protest against the brutal gangrape of Uwa began. It was indeed a revealing and emotional period, as a lot of women came forward with their rape stories. Stories of sexual exploitation and the plight the Nigerian womenfolk had to contend with to be at par with their menfolk. Then boom! Stories started flying in. 

First, a Nollywood director, Victor Okpala, was called out for demanding sex in exchange for a movie role. Then it was Uti Nwachukwu, Dbanj, to mention but a few celebrities. Social media wars began, to discern truths from fabrications. In the comments section underneath such stories, Twitter and Facebook saw a crowd of Nigerians bashing and condemning the accuser and the accused, without getting the authentic gist of the story. We call them the magistrate court of public opinion, where the parties are either sentenced or acquitted, without a judge or any form of evidence.

The culture of calling out has been active for a long time and used as a tool for the oppressed, the weak, the marginalized, and those without a voice, to reveal the injustice meted out on them, as well as to change the status quo. That was the original intent. 

However, publicly accusing someone of rape, without valid evidence to back the claim, has consequences so grave, that even if an accused is proven innocent, there is no coming back from the damaging effects caused. No legal remedy can bring that back. 

In the case of Uti, the accuser immediately vanished after he declared his intentions to engage his legal advisers. The trauma he would have faced would by far outweigh the legal fees or retribution he would receive, not to mention the damage to his career. 

Izu Madubueze was not as lucky. He committed suicide when he could not deal with the trauma of the alleged ‘non physical sexual assault’ leveled against him by a Twitter user (@nanichianese) who deactivated her account after reports came out that Izu rejected her advances in the past.

There is a belief that call-outs of recent times have been used to stir trouble, rather than highlight the ills of injustice. A call-out on social media should only be justified, if the accusation is true and the accuser has laid complaints to the accused, while the accused refused to reasonably settle the issue.  

In the case of a rape callout, there is a need to have a full understanding of the implications of the word rapist. Before the word is freely used on a human, either publicly or privately, the accuser must ponder upon it, just as a rapist ponders on his/her actions before raping someone.

How does one bounce back from the stigma attached to these vices (true or untrue)? Heritage Bank had to suspend all forms of business activity with Dbanj, just because he has been associated with the word ‘rape’, however untrue it may be.

While there are no right and wrong ways to promote a call-out culture, dissecting our true motivations and reasons before offering such criticism, as well as the consequences of such call out, helps the call-out culture fulfill its actual intent, because by ganging upon an individual, especially in public, you are taking a high moral position, and inciting the public to public shame the individual, which is usually counterproductive especially where there is no substantial evidence to back up such a claim.

In the case of a traumatizing experience such as rape, where dialoguing with the individual is far-fetched, calling out a rapist should be backed by a true story. This way, we can reduce the number of suicides, and horrific experiences that can be propagated by a single false narrative.

De Critic is a leading Critic, Copywriting & Media PRs agency awarded one of Nigeria’s top 10 best by Sortlist International. Born from a near-death experience over a bad product/brand, De Critic was born to do two things – 1. Critique on brands, lifestyle, music and movies, and 2. help good brands do their copywriting and PR. De Critic, turning words into gold for you. –

70 Responses

  1. A very timely and insightful write up.
    A lot of education and reorientation on matters such as this is needed.
    There has been a culture of silence around the issue of rape from time immemorial.
    It’s time to take the mask off the masquerade.

  2. Well written Chiamaka. People are quick to crucify a rapist because of the devastating impact this act has on the victim. The fact that these cases always almost come out years later and therefore with little evidences has thrown us into a culture of blaming the victim by the mere words of the accuser.
    Maybe some day, we will cultivate a culture where false accusations come with terrible consequences too and this may deter false accuser.
    I agree with you that this would not be enough to eliminate or decrease the trauma the accused would go through but this is also the same for the victims in true rape cases.
    However, maybe in the long run these consequences would encourage less people to use rape as a game or some form of revenge mechanism.
    Until then, we can pray and try to be there for the falsely accused and real victims while we educate our people in the magistrate court of public opinion with articles like this; for they are here to stay.

  3. To be honest, these days when I hear/read about someone being accused as a “rapist” I take it with a pinch of salt until the person is actually proven guilty. I have heard personal stories about how women gang up to destroy a man’s reputation all because he didn’t accept their advances. People do cruel things just to hurt others. I like how you wrote about it from another side – until actually proven, don’t judge.

    • To be honest, these days when I hear/read about someone being accused as a “rapist” I take it with a pinch of salt until the person is actually proven guilty. I have heard personal stories about how women gang up to destroy a man’s reputation all because he didn’t accept their advances. People do cruel things just to hurt others. I like how you wrote about it from another side – until actually proven, don’t judge.

  4. This is apt and insightful, Chiamaka. You have hit the nail on the head. A false accusation is as good as murder. It’s quite painful when people think they can always get symphathy from some gullible social media users who do not take time to ponder on any case before passing the supposed culprit.

  5. Well said my darling.
    Calling someone out on what ever platform must always be from the stand point of “TRUTH”.

  6. DinmaCaruso, you nailed it, it so disheartened to be tagged a ‘rapist’. No one wants to know if the allegations are true or not. Its a stigma, it should be totally curbed, the aftermath of the word ‘Rape’ should be thought over and over before the allegations are made.

    The true ‘Rapist’ Might be out there unpunished, why the ‘audioRapist’ are stigmatised.

    Nice write Up Dinma, so insightful of you

  7. Amazing piece.
    I wish I assembled the entire world in a large hall and read this out to them.
    Bless up dinmaCaruso

  8. The truth we often like to ignore whilst we make ourselves judges over things we have no clear information about! Well done Chiamaka… A good read this is.

    • This is so true. Kudos to the writer! Its unfair to accuse people falsely on a crime such as rape and then disappear. Thanks for this piece!

      • The punishment for false accusations should also be as grave as that of Rape.However ,I think it takes a lot of courage to speak up as a Victim of rape in this part of our world,so the accuser should be ready to defend his/her claims and not disappearing after causing an uproar…I stand strongly against Rape….

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De Critic Team
Emmanuel Okonkwo

Emmanuel Okonkwo is a professional content/creative/copywriter; and a critic. He is a published writer internationally and locally; the founder and editor of DeCritic. He holds a bachelor degree in Philosophy & Communications; a diploma degree in Copywriting & Marketing; and others. Crazy right? He has worked for and written for some of the world best marketing agencies, influencers, blogs and magazines. He is unique, rational, fun, radical and balanced.

Chinenye Chukwudebelu

Chinenye Chukwudebelu is a professional copywriter/content writer that enjoys writing about brand's products/services and lifestyles. She is also an investment banker and a data analysis enthusiast. She has a great voice and she is shy.

Tobe Nosike

Nosike, Emmanuel Tobe is a professional compere, a creative writer and a brand/media manager. He is also an IT expert and accountant. He loves creative writings and lifestyle. Tobe is playful yet gentle and stubborn. 

Chiamaka Ezeonwuka

Chiamaka Ezeonwuka (Dinma Caruso) is a professional digital marketer and blogger. She has an extensive experience in marketing and digital marketing. She is good with people. Chiamaka is a disciplinarian as well as a fun lady. She is blunt, daring, considerate and a goal-getter. 

Felix Echeta

Felix Echeta is a copywriter, video editor, and PR expert with lots of experience to show for it. He is straight-face funny and the spirit of the PR department. Felix is also a blunt writer and he loves to play around with video content.

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