Sorry is Not Enough!

Lagos Nigeria July 4, 2019: African Women on Board (AWB) condemns the behaviour displayed in a recent viral video of a lawmaker attacking a woman in Nigeria and calls for a greater societal shift in culture across the continent.

The clip of Senator Abbo shows him in a shop, assaulting a woman beside the cash register, while flanked by other men who are reticent to intervene and stop the attack. In the wake of the public reaction to the video, Senator Abbo has issued an apology.

Given the appalling behaviour displayed in the footage, is an apology enough? Shouldn’t we demand more from our elected officials to send a clear message that abuse of any form is unacceptable, no matter who carries it out?

AWB identifies this behaviour as more than disgraceful. However, the overarching culture which allows violence against women to thrive is even more deplorable. “The continent as a whole can only move forward if we take time to reflect on how we are holding women back through a systemic culture of violence,” says AWB Chair, Dr. Nkiru Balonwu.

The Nigerian Senate have ordered a two-week probe into the incident. However, isn’t this woman’s account and the video footage sufficient evidence of what transpired? We cannot wait two weeks. The evidence is clear and the next steps are non-negotiable. Senator Abbo must resign.

“The role of the bystander must be challenged”, comments Balonwu. “Ask yourself: Are my silence and inaction making me complicit in the abuse and brutalization of another? Ally-ship on behalf of women requires that we the people speak out and stand up in the immediate.”

Not unrelatedly, Busola Dakolo recently faced backlash following her account of being raped by Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo. This demonstrates the nature of victim-blaming in our culture, wherein the integrity and veracity of the survivor’s story is debated.

AWB laments: “Who will stand up for our women? Where are the men who will protect the agency of our women and defend the space for them to be unapologetically female?”

In the larger movement that AWB has launched to advance the causes of African women, they are making demands for allies, particularly of their male counterparts:

“Men: you are our Fathers, Brothers, Husbands and Sons, we need you on the frontlines. We cannot right societal wrongs without your support.”

Western movements like #MeToo and #TIMESUP have focused primarily on believing survivors. AWB takes the stance that the fight against oppression cannot be muscled alone with just the survivors of abuse, but in partnership with individuals who have made the choice to leverage their power and privilege for others.”

“At AWB, we say, not just #MeToo but #YouToo, because you too can be an agent and an activist in this zeitgeist for equality for all.”


Join the movement:

Sign the petition calling for the prosecution of Senator Elisha Abbo:

Let’s send a clear message that violence against African women and girls will no longer be tolerated!