There’s an article circulating Ghanaian social media that’s making serious accusations at an individual who has somewhat of a public presence. There are few crimes, maybe only murder that should be considered more heinous than rape. Not just in Ghana, but the world over, rape victims are constantly asked to prove they were victimized whilst the assailants are typically held unaccountable. Rape victims are stigmatized unjustly and we as a society have to become better educated at ridding ourselves of the perceptions that allow us to feel comfortable demanding rape victims to prove their own rape.
That’s what conflicts those people who aim to champion the fight against victim blaming and bring an end to the persecution of those who are victims of rape, the majority being women and girls. It’s tragic. To feel imprisoned by the crime committed against you has to be one of the most challenging traumas any one has to live with and it is our duty to create a safer space for victims to come forward and seek justice against their assailants without fearing any repercussions, implied or stated.
That is why I am so conflicted in voicing this opinion about seeking justice through the court of public opinion. On one hand, I can appreciate the relief it may bring to some in being able to share their stories as a step in the process of reaching some level of healing. However, it is counter intuitive for us to trample on others right to due process by estimating that, trying such happenings in public serves justice to anyone. If anything at all, it breeds skepticism, doubt and innuendo and gossip. No one wins. it is potentially a dangerous path that can leave an irreparable reputation for the small percentage that may be falsely accused. It sounds like a worthwhile sacrifice in the grand scheme of things if it results in the greater good but the essence of justice is to protect the defenseless. For so long, we have allowed our sense of good morals to be dictated by what the majority believe instead of protecting the ideal of “innocent until proven guilty”. If we had that kind of time, I’d expand on why that principle is the most important tenet in a truly just society but not today.
Here’s the point. One can accuse another of anything and blurt it out in public to gain approval and support even if the accusations are wrong. The idea that the writer was conflicted and pondered the ethics of making a public accusation of that magnitude without telling both sides of the story is shallow at worst and grossly irresponsible by any truly ethical estimation. If she’s ethical enough to want to protect the victims’ identities, the same ethics should have applied in protecting the accused’s identity. The fact that this did not happen then suggests a bias that encourages the sort of skepticism that has unjustly plagued rape victims for so long and her article is doing nothing to bring long lasting justice to rape victims who she seems to sincerely want to help. It begs noting that, this article was written in spite of a threat of legal action against her from the accused’s lawyer which implies that the accused is denying the accusations in that capacity. To go ahead and publish said article and lace it with screenshot private conversations which show no evidence of actual rape but insinuations and meanderings of a very needy guy did not achieve any type of justice. The victims are still in hiding and have not used their story to bring healing to themselves or warn others as the article bravely suggests. It reduces such a heinous crime to petty Twitter and groupchat gossip while missing an opportunity to actually galvanize these victims for a greater cause. This could have been a true moment of activism for the writer since she by all personal accounts is fervently supportive of womens rights issues.
Writing was a way to create awareness and learning in our culture where a lot of issues were branded off-topic and taboo. Blogging became an outlet for so many voiceless people and that’s a great turning point for our progress. However, blogging has become our destination for resolving our problems with the status quo. It has given us this false sense of actual activism when in fact we are not doing shit to solve the issues we wail about. This moment could have been used to bring a case against the accused in court. By providing and raising the resources to get a competent lawyer and investigative team to bring the man to trial. That will be justice. That would have been true activism. Here we are, blogging about it and leaving it at that while patting ourselves on the back, meanwhile nothing was solved. For the sake of justice and a a hope for a society that doesn’t victimize our rape victims, we should encourage those accusers to seek their recourse through the courts. And for the accused, anything short of bullishly defending your innocence if you are in fact innocent will be a disservice to yourself and the innocent. If you are in fact guilty, everything that is coming to you will not be enough until you pay for the crimes you are accused of and that will be justice.