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Why the #metoo campaign went cold in Africa


It was tearful. It was shocking.

The #metoo campaign unveiled in 2017 brought to the core hitherto hidden stories about sexual abuse in every sphere of life globally.

From promotion agents who sexually abused upcoming celebrities to priests who abused boys and nuns, the #metoo campaign was ablaze all over the world. Well, except Africa.

Why was Africa silent?

There are many explanations to this.

Esther Armah, an international award winning journalist, radio host and writer as well as director of EAA Media Productions, explained that when someone mentioned the hashtag in her home country Ghana, that person became instantly labelled a liar and this traumatised the survivors.

“It was considered a movement in the United States but it was alien to Africa,” says Armah.

To demonstrate this, she gave an example of a 13-year-old girl in Ghana who uttered the #metoo words in relation to a head teacher who had sexually harassed her and the family had arranged for her marriage to the same man. But she was not ready for marriage and wanted to complete her education first. Immediately she was branded a liar by the whole nation – authorities and all media stations.

Esther Armah. PHOTO: Courtesy AWiM2019

Her organisation in Ghana picked this issue and decided to fight for the justice of the girl.

“As soon as we realised people had an issue with the hashtag, we came up with a new one #TimesupGH which soon led to a national conversation on sexual violence issues. The girl’s voice was heard and so were others who came up there after.”

Ms Armah says her campaign has seen national policies initiated to deal with teachers who rampantly abused school children and walked away scot-free.

“Now there are open conversations about sexual abuse,” she says.

Perhaps other African states should borrow a leaf from this campaign and help bring their own version of the #metoo campaign to the fore.

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