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RAPE CULTURE IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY: DANCING TO THE BEAT OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN NIGERIA

In Nigeria, sexual violence has become some sort of norm people do and get away with so easily, especially against women. According to the Women At Risk International Foundation (WARIF), about 10,000 girls experience sexual violence everyday. This figure is actually crazy for a nation that reports less than 100 convicted rapists since inception. Someone would think the numbers are that low because these things don’t really happen but it’s really as a result of a failed judicial system. In an editorial by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR); in a bid to trash the rumors of Nigeria having only 18 convictions in rape cases, they reported that Nigeria actually has 65 convictions in rape cases since 1973. 65 convicted rapists out of 10000 cases experienced daily. Our judicial system has really failed us. But there’s one platform that could really do a lot in handling this issue by creating awareness and educating individuals, it’s most conversant amongst the youths and is unarguably one of the biggest industries in the country today, it’s the music industry. But does it help, or does it do more damage?

Over the course of the past week, there was some sort of outrage on the ever powerful social network service, Twitter. It entailed victims and concerned individuals calling out rapists and sexual assaulters who have violated or abused anyone in any way and at any time. This isn’t a rare occurrence, as we’ve seen it happen a few other times in the past. But something was a lot different in this one for me; two allegations put my hand glued over my opened mouth in shock. The ones addressed to rising actor, Gbolahan “Bolly Lomo” Olatunde, and to self – acclaimed best Nigerian artiste, Olawale “Brymo” Oloforo. The former went on to deny all allegations about a day after, but as the internet never forgets, old tweets pulled up by “investigators” on the app proved that the actor has rape tendencies, hence, more reasons to stick to all allegations. Brymo, on the other hand, released no statement towards the vile allegations made against him, with a couple of his fans and well-wishers being quick to trash all allegations because they came with no proof. Keep in mind that this won’t be the first time the ‘Prick E No Get Shoulder’ crooner would be called out for such an unpleasant act, from a different person entirely. These allegations really put me off because, of course they’re human, but actually do have the platform to curb this terrifying act because they do have large followership and quite a number of people look up to them. Are these the examples they are setting for the society?
Of course, we wouldn’t be ruling out speculations of other members in the entertainment industry; particularly the music department, being sexual predators. Using the little power they possess to have their way with the opposite gender, especially when it comes to handing out record deals and possibly features. Speaking at an event in 2016, former Mavin Records diva, Tiwa Savage, had these to say concerning her experiences of sexual harassment in the early days of her career:
“A lot of times they said that they wanted to help me but actually they wanted me to do ‘something’ with them. Luckily I had a crazy boyfriend who ended up being my husband. He just shot them down.”
Also, speaking in an interview with Punch News, internationally recognized Yemi Alade had this to say about sexual harassment in the Nigerian music industry:
“Record label owners and show promoters are all guilty of this. Sexual harassment comes in different levels; some are intense, some are subtle, and some even come through third parties. However, I’ve never found myself in a situation that felt very uncomfortable. Once I see the signs, I run and the person would not even have the opportunity to go through with his evil plans. There are some people who I looked up to in the industry but surprisingly, they also wanted sex.”
These stories are the few out of the many, heard and unheard. Even video vixens have their stories to tell.
Even one of the most famous label heads was asked in an interview if he would be signing any female artistes and here’s what he had to say:
“Female artiste, you will have to be like my sister, like my daughter. You know things are gonna go down. You know… (laughs)”
This statement is diminishing, unpleasant and shows an intent to sexually assault or harass any female artiste signed to his label.
The industry is very well male dominated, women are underrepresented in it, and sexual harassment plays a vital role in this.

The rape culture has been a big problem in the Nigerian society for a very long while, but you can hardly point out Nigerian songs speaking against the evil. Rather, they often spew misogynistic and derogatory content, in their music and videos. A couple of songs actually glorify sexual assault, whether directly or indirectly. Some actually got no backlash and turned out to be massive hits. A typical example is Olamide’s ‘Story For The Gods’ which was released in 2014. If you take some time to listen to it, having the fluency of the Yoruba language, you would realize that the artiste actually glorified date rape, under the influence of certain hard substances as he sings ”o ti mu do go ya ro, monkey tail, ba mi wey claro, I want to do sina today.. she say she cannot wait o, she say it’s getting late o, she say she wants to faint o, story for the gods… now she say mo ro go, o ti kan mi lapa o, o ti kan mi leyin o, story for the gods, the gods oh.” The man who has, in multiple times, received backlash for glorifying the use of hard substances and women for money rituals, constantly gets away with these things and they all end up being street bangers. Ignorance they say, is bliss, but not in this case. Believe me, there are quite a number of songs like this out there, but we don’t pay attention, we just “dance to the beat.” Messages like this, in some type of way, normalize the rape culture, and in a less sensitive society like ours, it’s really terrible content to be spread.

The Nigerian music industry is one of the biggest and most influential industries in the country today. Our artistes are role models to members of the society, they are supposed to be leaders, but do they act like leaders? We all need to do better in this fight against all forms of sexual violence. We must protect everyone around us. Everyone has a role to play in this, let’s treat every human the way we want to be treated.

One reply on “RAPE CULTURE IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY: DANCING TO THE BEAT OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN NIGERIA”

Apt and brilliant writing. So detailed and expository. It’s nice to see young men speaking out and writing about topics like this. Hopefully the world gets the message and a stop is put to all these atrocities.

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