The #MeToo movement that shook Hollywood to its core in the past year has thankfully found its way to this part of the world, and the essence of it, is to remove the shame that’s typically associated with speaking out as a victim of sexual assault.
The end goal is to turn male-dominated and abusive power structures on their heads, and the Nigerian fashion industry has woken up to this, with models naming and shaming abusers they’ve come across in the past.
Nigerian models recently rallied together in a bid to stop the casual sexual violence they suffer, by calling out rampant perpetrators — specifically photographers and booking agents — as well as giving advice to young, aspiring models.
The success of a model’s career is largely dependent on the rooms her booking agent can get her into, and from the testaments shared on an Instagram page dedicated to this cause, it’s clear the men in these positions realised their power and used it to prey on these models.
Speaking to Konbini about this, top model Aduke Bey said:
“I’m lucky enough to never have experienced any sexual violence in fashion so far, but I know so many people who have. In fact, more people than not have been assaulted and it’s such a shame.
First of all, we need more women in the industry as photographers, cinematographers etc, so that we can feel more comfortable around each other, and we won’t always be at the mercy of sometimes wicked men.
I’m glad that people are speaking up now, but we really need more people coming out and saying their stories. There’s still so much to uncover, and we’ve just scratched the surface. Silence gives these abusers more power”
Nigerians have a very limited understanding of a model’s importance in the fashion industry, and therefore cast the job aside as indecent and unserious. As a result, models sometimes feel pressure to entertain unwanted sexual advances in order to get ahead in their careers.
Models are actually crucial in fashion, as there would be no catwalk or runway shows without them. Designers need them to model their clothes in campaigns, and publications need them when creating their content. Given the importance of their role, they should be protected by those in power.
We are very impressed that they had the courage to speak out, as they’ve set the ball rolling to reduce how rampantly these women are victims of these awful crimes. Hopefully, we continue to deconstruct the culture of shame and silence, so that women all over the world no longer have to say, “me too”.
Kudos to these models speaking out, and we hope all of these assaulters are brought to justice.
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