New York Times
Nov. 3, 2019
By Julie Turkewitz
It was, she said, a secret that burned so badly she could no longer keep it inside. So at age 34, Busola Dakolo, a well-known Nigerian photographer, went on television and finally spoke.
She said she had been raped twice as a teenager by her former pastor, Biodun Fatoyinbo, a church leader whose services draw thousands, and whose fans, admiring his flashy lifestyle, have taken to calling him “the Gucci pastor.” He has denied the allegations.
After years in which silence around rape and sexual harassment have been the norm, West Africa is seeing a wave of #MeToo proclamations.
Accusations have come from a Gambian beauty queen who said the former president raped her; a former presidential adviser in Sierra Leone who said she was sexually assaulted by a church leader; and a Nigerian journalist with the BBC who captured hidden camera footage of university professors soliciting sex in exchange for admission and grades.
The footage shook the region, drew outrage from political leaders and led to the suspension of at least four lecturers.
But many women who have come forward in recent months have also experienced a fierce backlash, including attacks on their reputations and accusations that they’ve lied about the assaults. While their critics say they are merely applying appropriate skepticism to unproven allegations, their supporters say that the hostile reaction reveals just how difficult it is for women in the region to speak out about abuse.
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