#JusticeForIzu: To truly eradicate rape culture, we need structural solutions, not individual justice

rape

A few days ago, news broke that a young man named Izu Madubueze had committed suicide. According to reports from his friends, he was pushed to suicide after he was allegedly named as rapist, for engaging in casual sex with a woman who he had previously rejected but then solicited sex from. From her perspective, Mr. Madubueze was aware she was romantically attracted to him, and informed her he was okay with casual sex but nothing more. According to conversations shared by Madubueze’s friends, Madubueze admitted he wasn’t attracted to her after they had had sex, an admission she alleged he made only because he was under the influence. Madubueze admitted his actions might have been misconstrued and apologized.

 

Another Twitter user, who was told about the circumstances around the sexual encounter between Madubueze and the first woman, contacted him via DM to inform him she was adding him to a list she had compiled of rapists and rape apologists, a phenomenon that has arisen to create awareness and protect women from entering into situations that could potentially lead to assault. Madubueze tried to get the woman in question to remove him from her list and when she refused, Madubeze released a public statement apologizing if his actions were misconstrued and days later, news of his death by suicide hit social media.

His death, understandably is tragic, but the outrage that has followed it illustrates the reality of the shortcomings of individual justice by public shaming. Most people were unaware of the accusations made against Mr. Madubueze until his death was used as a clarion call to resurrect the red herring of false rape accusations being an equivalent to rape/sexual assault. Research has consistently shown that false rape accusations are dwarfed by actual rape cases, many of whom are deliberately ignored by law enforcement. This doesn’t invalidate the hurt and damage that can be caused by a false rape accusation when the person making the accusation has class or race privilege and as such must be addressed appropriately.

However, it is shameful how the death of this young man has been weaponized to push personal agendas.

 

At present there has been no official statement from his family, no investigation into his death to properly determine cause of death and if he had any pre-existing mental health conditions that could have been exacerbated by the perceived public humiliation he endured. There has been no attempts to involve law enforcement or respect the wishes of his family by allowing the rule of law prevail. Instead they have kept his name in the news by amplifying the accusations made against him, accusations that they are as yet unable to refute with any tangible evidence. Many promoters of false rape accusations as a heinous crime, often argue that law enforcement should be allowed to deal with genuine cases of rape/sexual assault and that social media should not be involved. They argue that the reputations of the accused should not be damaged by public outrage before they get a fair hearing.

Yet, this is exactly what they have done, stirred up outrage on the internet, and issued death threats to the alleged perpetrators they name as responsible for the young man’s suicide.  The law exists for a reason, and if the necessary structural changes had been implemented to make it easier for women to approach law enforcement and report cases of sexual assault and violence, they wouldn’t need to publicly shame anyone to get individual justice. They would be content that systemic justice would eventually be meted out to the accused party.

There are lessons we must learn from this tragedy, we need systems that work, not individuals with power to fight our causes. The systems we build must show equity and fairness to all, not just the parties we identify with. And we must hold the system we create accountable, not use it only when it works to our advantage.

You can start by donating to Stand to End Rape and using the services of the country’s dedicated Investigative department focused on gender.

 

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