Since the awful rape of a 22-year-old girl who was equally murdered in a church located in Benin City, Edo State; the issue of rape (especially of women and children) has been on the forefront of discussions across social media platforms in Nigeria. And while a number of women, who have been victims of sexual violence; have openly shared their experience and genuinely pleaded for men to do better; some others have gone ahead to call out and accuse a number of male celebrities of raping them in the past.
From forced sexual misconduct to rape, some of these celebrities recently accused have included music artiste, D’banj; Davido’s personal logistics manager, Israel; Instagram comedian Oluwadolarz, Nigerian rapper, Zoro; and more.
The thing, though, none of these celebrities have conceded to the accusations. Also, there is also the fact that some of these stories; shared by some of the women making these accusations appear to be haphazard. And if you even look at the comments on posts making the accusation; you will find opinions that allude to the fact that the women who are making these accusations; could just be clout chasers only looking for relevance at the expense of the celebrity’s reputation.
I always identify as pro-victim whenever there is a rape situation being discussed around me; whether there is the evidence to support the claim or not. This is because I really cannot fathom why anyone would accuse another person of sexual misconduct so unjustly; even to the detriment of her own image. However, after seeing a number of these men crying out to say they are being falsely accused; I was forced to consider the possibility of them (the accused rapists) being the actually victims; being framed for a crime they did not commit.
While I am in no way saying that these celebrities being accused now are innocent; I would like to point out the reality, which is that false accusations happen. And we need to talk about them.
We, most times, concentrate so much on the account of the victim that we end up turning complete deaf ears and blind eyes to the accused. In fact, we do not even want to hear anyone voice out an opinion; especially one that remotely suggests the victim might be a scam artiste.
Sure, if a person is correctly accused of harassment or assault towards another person; and those allegations are proven to be valid following an investigation; then it’s fair game for them to suffer the consequences for their actions that are proportional to what they did. But what about the flip side of the equation?
What if the accused is being lied on and unjustly antagonized? The impact it can have on very real lives when rape allegations are not true; but are presumed to be by organizational leaders and/or the colleagues of the accused is very damaging. Even worse, false charges of rape over consensual sexual relationships serve only to dilute genuine cases; while distorting the debate about rape in general.
Falsely accusing a person of sexual assault is nearly as despicable as sexual assault itself. It inflicts psychological, familial, reputational and professional harms that can last a lifetime. In fact, the consequences of a false report of rape can be devastating to the life of the one accused; especially since a rape allegation is very easy to make but very difficult to disprove.
Often, the mere suggestion that a person has done something wrong is enough to convict them in the court of public opinion. With the social media being as vicious and widespread as it is today; there is no way for a wrongfully accused person to protect their reputation. This can have life changing effects, lead to loss of employment opportunities, public ridicule and emotional harm.
Here is my advice to anyone (including unfortunate celebrities); who finds themselves in a position where they have been falsely accused of rape. First, reject the accusation and counter the story with your own. Realize the importance of false accusations. Do not assume that because the charges are false, you do not need to deal with them.
Again, be consistent in the way you present your version of events. Next, secure the services of a qualified and experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Document your case. Write down as many details as possible about your case; whether or not you consider them important and compile a list of possible witnesses.
More, educate yourself on your rights and the legal system. Learn to protect and maximize your rights.