Apologies for rape culture


DAKAR – As a defense mechanism, Amina Badiane could not have done worse. It was last Thursday, November 18, when the president of the Miss Senegal organizing committee met with Dakarbuzz, a website based in the capital.

The interview was an opportunity to respond to the revelations of Ndèye Fatima Dione, Miss Senegal 2020, who had publicly revealed the violence she had suffered during her tenure as beauty queen n ° 1 in the country. Her mother had also revealed that Dione’s pregnancy was the result of a rape, committed during a trip organized by the committee.

“Rape is between two people, isn’t it? It’s not just one person,” Badiane told reporters. “If she was raped, she must file a complaint. The organizer of the contest added that during sponsored trips of the contest, the conditions of entry into the rooms of young women are subject to very strict guidelines.

“No one is allowed to enter, not even friends. The girls receive a very strict education,” Badiane said. Then after asking for confirmation of her words from another Miss Senegal candidate, added in the regional Wolof language, without anyone around her opposing it: “Kougnou rapist, yaw la nekh”. It translates to “If she was raped, it was because she asked for it.” After making the outrageous remark, Badiane laughed and added: “After all, she’s an adult.”

Does the outcry over Badiane’s remarks reflect a growing awareness of violence against women?

He quickly set social media on fire across Senegal, where #JusticeforFatima hashtags have proliferated. A petition from the “Ladies Club Senegal” platform called for “the immediate withdrawal of the operating license for this committee and its dissolution”. In three days, she had already accumulated more than 50,000 signatures, while calls for Badiane’s resignation multiplied.

Last Friday, CFAO Motors Senegal announced that it was ending its partnership with the committee and would take back its vehicles. “CFAO Motors Senegal strongly condemns the allegations of the president of the Miss Senegal committee. Such comments go against our values, ”the company said in a statement. Since then, several activists have called for the committee’s other sponsors to be held accountable, including the ministries of culture and health.

Senegalese society tends to make excuses for men and blame women for the violence they endure.

Imani Bahati / Unsplash

Trivialization of violence

If Amina Badiane’s remarks are particularly appalling, the substance of her remarks is nevertheless shared by a large part of Senegalese society. We are far from the progress that some would like to believe made, forgetting how Senegalese society is quick to find excuses for men and blame women.

“Such comments are made every day in Senegal,” said Jerry Azilinon, administrator of the Doyna movement to fight violence against women.. The activist says the attitude includes professionals who are supposed to take care of victims, police forces as well as health service workers. “Most of them are untrained on these issues, tending to blame the victim and make ironic comments… which helps to trivialize violence and fuel the culture of rape.”

Does the outcry over Badiane’s remarks reflect a growing awareness of violence against women? “I don’t know if we can talk about improvement, but there has certainly been an awareness in recent years. The debate on rape culture is moving towards the public sphere,” Azilinon explains. “If the people who make such remarks are to face consequences, they will think twice before acting.” Changing people’s mindsets will necessarily take much longer.

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