Even though we still have a long way to go concerning sexuality, gender and women’s rights; the events of last night on Big Brother Nigeria and the reaction to those events prove we have come a long, long way as Nigerians.
For those who don’t follow the Multichoice and Endemol produced reality show, the Big Brother franchise chooses young creatives from their respective countries and sequesters them in a ‘house’ for 90 days during which they forfeit their privacy and are recorded the entire time. The show has no long term objectives save for the housemates to outlast each other by growing a fanbase outside the house which votes to keep their housemate in the game for its entire duration. There have been 9 editions of the Big Brother franchise in the last twelve years, with many having several scandals. There was the scandal of housemates Richard and Ofunneka where Richard performed sexual acts of Ofunneka when she was drunk and unable to consent. Even more recent was the Big Brother Mzansi show where a female housemate who had blacked out after a party was raped by a fellow housemate. She didn’t even know he had had sex with her until the next day when the male housemate bragged about it to others. He was disqualified hush-hush and she was sent out of the house as well, with the producers of the show suggesting it was for her own good.
The Big Brother Nigeria show has been marked by its hypersexual housemates and how often they had broached the line from consensual sexual activity to assault. Just last week, housemate Debbie Rise after being repeatedly rebuffed by housemate Bassey waited until he was asleep to kiss him. A lot of Nigerians voiced their displeasure and asked that Debbie Rise be punished somehow for her inappropriate behaviour but she was spared. However this week, after a warning for suggesting that housemates drug a fellow housemate with alcohol to sleep with her, housemate Kemen while sharing a bed with housemate TBoss, performed sexual acts on her while she was asleep without her consent. He went as far putting his hand in her crotch with an intent to stimulate her.
Once the news broke many Nigerians complained via social media to the Big Brother organizers to punish Kemen for his behaviour as a deterrent to others. And initially not responding to their complaints, the Big Brother organizers announced during the eviction show that they were disqualifying Kemen for flouting the House rules.
Now we are happy the right thing was done, but it is also disappointing that the Big Brother organizers expressly refused to disclose to the other housemates what Kemen was being evicted for. There is a culture of covering for rapists and people who commit sexual assault and it needs to stop. And we need the big corporations to take responsibility when this misconduct happens on their watch and lead through transparency.
Even if they don’t, we are at least sure that there are Nigerians who will stand up and ensure that perpertrators are exposed and punished. And that’s enough for us.
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