Big Brother Naija And Trivialization Of Sexual Assault

Big Brother has the mind of a pimp. Kemen fondled a sleeping TBoss. The next morning the organizers of Big Brother carried on, for so long, with stupefying indifference. Perhaps they went to church. A violated TBoss, oblivious that Kemen had inserted his fingers in her pants while she slept, was allowed to walk about with happy innocence. Big Brother surely doesn’t have the temperament of a true brother.

An outraged public stoked the social media, but Big Brother’s curious icy aloofness wouldn’t thaw quickly. Big Brother’s other dubious priorities left him bereft of decisiveness. It took that Big Brother, with his ubiquity of cameras, 12 hours to understand a sexual offence.

Big Brother naturally likes sexual frolics. But even a depraved voyeur would be appalled by that physicality of that transgression let alone a fiduciary. The gravity of a sexual offence shouldn’t tolerate sitting around and fiddling. A predator cannot be allowed to loiter around his victim without sending a wrong message.

Big Brother, by his nature, has a questionable conscience. But his conscience, it appears, hasn’t been totally deadened by money after all. It was Big brother who encouraged reckless flirtatiousness as strategy. It is Big Brother who literally nudges house mates towards fornication. It was Big Brother who had coyly suggested to housemates that there was no ‘fire’ in the house.

It is Big Brother who floods the house with alcohol on Saturday nights and allows wanton promiscuity in regular kissing festivals. So when a housemate crept up at night to violate a sleeping female housemate it had to take Big Brother 12 hours to characterize that event, to realize that it was condemnable rather than praiseworthy. Big Brother must have faced an unfortunate moral conflict.

Having pimped out the housemates to treacherous circumstances, such a tragedy must question the raison d’etre of the programme. Poor Big Brother, like man who runs a brothel, cannot be fastidious about morality. But he who pushes youngsters to the edge debauchery must be on the look out for criminal exploitations.

When Big Brother was roused out of moral slumber by public anger, he carried on with measurable grogginess. Big brother invited the victim to know if the girl, who was obviously asleep throughout the incident, consented to the rummage. Her disbelief was palpable.

When Big Brother made her watch the clip which the world had watched, of hands reaching for her genitals while she slept, she became inconsolable. Big Brother should have known that, having crafted those treacherous circumstances, he had to be alert to sexual molestation.

But Big Brother didn’t even bother to spell out Kemen’s crime. Some degree of soft pornography surely helps increase viewership and fatten his pockets. Rather than announce that Kemen had committed a sexual offence, he preferred a euphemism. And that ambiguity told of a shark irritated by the nuisance ethical niceties.

Kemen is young, his rehabilitation is important. But laws exist not to be applied arbitrarily. Big Brother ought to have reported the matter to the police and the police ought to have addressed the public on steps taken or not taken. Kemen, with a remorselessness typical of sexual offenders, found the temerity to tell other housemates that he hadn’t done anything serious.

Women are groped openly in all bus parks in Lagos daily and no one feels like a thief. And how outraged were other BBNaija housemates? They gave Kemen the sympathy due a victim struck by a vagrant mermaid. When they heard the true story, they rendered weak perfunctory condemnations of the act while their sorrow for their fallen star remained engrossing.

It was Tboss, the victim, who was quickly branded a cursed woman. Social media was rife with the usual excuses that transfers victimhood to the offender: She tempted him. Why did she go to the extent of reporting and ruining him? Some Samaritans, asked. If she didn’t want any of that, why did she allow Miyonse, another housemate go so far with her a couple of weeks ago.

The victim, as always, in sexual offences, is doubly victimized. Some wondered why a woman lying in same bed with a man should sleep so deeply. It doesn’t matter that they saw her drinking before falling asleep. But this is the age of Trump. So some said they were sure she actually let him do it: she only chose exculpatory ignorance when she discovered it was caught on tape.

The police in South Africa have not lived up to expectations against xenophobia. But this doesn’t require moral exertion. Sexual offences are particularly grave offences. The duty of the police in such criminal offences is not informed by the interests or wishes of the victim alone.

An offence committed on television must be treated as a special offence in the interest of the society. The police have been presented a gilt-edged opportunity to make a deterrent swipe at sexual offences. And this instance is replete with all the features for good teaching. Kemen got neither express or implied consent. All the kissing and cuddling in the house are irrelevant. Sexual offences are punishable whether in strip bars or in the Sodom of a Big Brother house. Most offenders are not strangers.

Consent must be active and continuing. Drunkenness cannot salvage culpability. So while big brother can feed them with all the alcohol the universe can distil, to push them to the edge of recklessness, he cannot save them once they trespass a criminal boundary. The horny fellow must reasonably believe that consent was given. A sleeping woman cannot reasonably be believed to be consenting.

If the police let Kemen walk away they would create the impression that the crime is a misdemeanor.


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