Could the Weinstein scandal embolden African women victims dwelling in dark closets?
I was in a deposition session the third week of September, battling a scrutiny of my editorial policies over coverage of an alleged Nigerian rape and sexual torture
victim. By the way, this is normal – and a part of the discovery process in ongoing litigation, allowing litigants to gather relevant information in preparation for trial.
Besides persevering moments of discomfort, listening to a horrific rape account, the most shocking moment was testimony from an identified witness of Igbo origin, shockingly a woman, who wrote as an “expert” account that “rape” does not exist in the Igbo culture. The victim is from the Igbo culture and had accused her employer who is not an Igbo, of months of sexual torture, under threats of deportation in shackles if she did not comply.
So in the era of social media and internet, our so-called expert, an Igbo woman wants America to know or believe that in Igboland, there is nothing like rape – even without the reasonable bearing that the defendant is not of Igbo origin.
I am not in the mood for story-telling, but briefly cited the above introduction to express how sad the Nigerian and indeed the African communities in America have exaggeratingly hinged on inexistent or fabricated stories of cultural values to perpetrate evil among themselves, their communities, and their heirs. But make no mistake, there are more rapes among Igbos, Nigerians, and other African cultures than anyone could imagine – in fact, as I write, rape is apparently being committed in the very Igbo village where our so-called “expert” hails. Disappointedly, most Africans who would stand up to blame rape victims are likely victims of horrific sexual torture hiding under the closet to appease their so-called “culture.” This is how bad this society has become.
America is having the “Sexual Harassment” discussion now, so I believe that this is also the time for Africans in America to start having their forums about rape, sexual harassment, and torture currently eating their communities up.
From the Media, Congress to Hollywood through workplaces, women are now trooping out from their hiding places to identify and confront their predators, and the entire country is on their side.
There are many victims out there hiding in pain because they want to protect their dignity. What dignity, if I may ask? It is a fact that in the African culture, rape and sexual harassment victims are isolated, and scorned into inconceivable desolation. In fact, families who would support them end up disowning them to protect the so called “family name.” What a shame!
After the beginning of October, when multiple women came forward to accuse Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood producer, of sexual misconduct, high-profile men in a variety of industries have resigned, been fired or experienced other fallout after accusations that have ranged from inappropriate text messages to rape.
Just last week, it was revealed that Representative Blake Farenthold, a Republican from Corpus Christi, used $84,000 in taxpayer funds to settle a sexual harassment claim, one of six settlements for workplace issues ranging from veteran status discrimination to age bias that was paid out by a secretive congressional office since 2013. Similar sexual harassment and indiscretion scandals had already ensnared Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota; Representative John Conyers Jr., Democrat of Michigan; and Representative Joe Barton, Republican of Texas. Just recently, two more lawmakers, Mr. Farenthold and Representative Ruben Kihuen, Democrat of Nevada have been pulled into the confraternity of alleged sexual harassment predators.
Without the doubt, the Weinstein scandal seemed to embolden more victims to come out, speak out, and confront their predators who are mainly top directors, government officials, political bigwigs, and celebrities.
So, what about victims of African descent?
There are many victims out there hiding in pain because they want to protect their dignity. What dignity, if I may ask? It is a fact that in the African culture, rape and sexual harassment victims are isolated, and scorned into inconceivable desolation. In fact, most family members who would support them end up disowning them to protect their so called “family name.” What a shame!
In my experience in the news media, it is my conviction that why sexual harassment, rape, and torture persist in African cultures in America is because perpetrators know that most of their victims would rather “commit suicide” than reveal their ordeal.
Definitely, African women victims of these terrible crimes could follow the footpath of their American counterparts, and come out from their hiding chambers; they could speak out and confront their predators with courage and tenacious composure; they could create discreet social media platforms, share their afflictions, and collectively get necessary help to expose their culprits, and further bring them to justice.
Last, they could also call me or just send me an email and share their ordeal. There is one major thing that I would do – tell them where to get the best help.
■ Guardian Publisher/Editor , Anthony Obi Ogbo, PhD. is the author of “The Influence of Leadership,” and the Strategic Advisor for The Consumer Arts & Sciences Center of Excellence – Houston Community College, Central Campus.