With organizations like the Stand to End Rape (STER), the Mirabel Centre, WARIF and others, the issue of sexual violence against women is beginning to gain due attention. But while these people are working tirelessly to change the perception of rape and rape survivors, some others are reinforcing stereotypes by making false allegations.
We recall the incidence involving UK-based Nigerian doctor, Dr. Funmilayo and Bola Aseyan who accused him in July of raping and emotionally abusing her.
It is no news that the accusation turned out to be false and that Dr. Funmilayo sought legal action against Bola Aseyan.
Today, some have gone ahead to plead leniency for Bola by creating the hashtag #DrFunmiNoVex. According to these ones, since Dr. Funmi has gotten justice, he need not pursue the matter to the full extent of the law.
When our siblings are fighting, we should plead for a peaceful resolution, right?
When our Hippocratic siblings are fighting, we should plead for a peaceful resolution.
Sir, you've won the war. Pls, don't exterminate the enemy. 🙏🙏 pic.twitter.com/mmOtdmJAzp
— Nigerian Doctor (@nigerian_doctor) September 11, 2020
Hi Dr Olufunmilayo, I know Bola falsely accused you of rape.
I know she almost ruined your life.
Your reputation and everything you stand for almost went down the drain but plis #DrFunmiNoVex because there's a Yoruba proverb that says "Omode o le m'eko je ko ma ra lowo". pic.twitter.com/ukvi1RGt1h
— Deacon Tolu AKA Baby cakes⛪ (@Bams_Jnr) September 12, 2020
However, while the situation may have ended well for Dr. Funmi, false rape allegations have not always ended well. Let us recall how a few months ago, a young entrepreneur called Izu Madubueze committed suicide as a result of the backlash he received after being falsely accused of sexual misconduct.
But apart from the obvious damage these false accusations do to the innocent people who are accused, we must also realise that it also has a devastating effect on women and the fight against sexual violence.
According to the U.N, 3 in 10 Nigerian women would experience sexual violence by the age of 18. Out of these numbers only about 3.5% seek justice and among these, only a small number of perpetrators get justice. Chief among the reasons for this is the public impression that rape allegations are commonly false. And here, these women such as Bola Aseyan continue to perpetuate this impression.
Because of this, when real rape victims speak out, they are likely to be met with counter accusations that their allegations are false.
And so, false rape allegations should not be taken lightly. The perpetrators of such accusations should be held accountable so that all can understand that rape is not a ticket to popularity or fortune but is rather, a horrible experience that many survivors do not fully get over.
As a society, we should also realise that despite the fact that false allegations occur, they make up only a small percentage of sexual violence cases reported. So, rather than looking at all rape victims skeptically, let this be a call to take every accusation more seriously and to expend every resource to investigate each case thoroughly.