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Rape and #ChurchToo Amidst Busola Dakolo’s Sexual Abuse Allegations

Quickly gaining traction this week is Busola Dakolo’s video interview with YNaijaTV journalist Chude Jideonwo. In the shocking video interview, Dakolo opens up about her rape when she was 16 years old by Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo, founder of The Commonwealth of the Zion Assembly (COZA) church.

Published in a nearly 2-hour video on Youtube, Dakolo remembers the Pastor (also commonly nicknamed “Gucci Pastor” owing to his likeness of luxury cars and brand-name clothes) familiarizing himself with her family after becoming involved with the church. “He would say things like ‘I want to be a spiritual Father to you’ or ask me ‘Do you have a boyfriend?’” She remarks, “It was good. I became relaxed.” However, Dakolo remembers the situation taking a drastic turn for the worse.

I Am Yours…You Will Do What I Tell You To Do.

It began with the Pastor showing up to her family’s house unexpectedly. “One day he just started pushing me on the chair in my living room [and] started removing his belt,” Dakolo remarks. She further describes the rape and mentions that it did not only happen once, but twice, the second time occurring when being driven by Fatoyinbo in his Mercedes.

“He was just smiling and saying different things like ‘I am yours…you will do what I tell you to do.” After parking his car on an off-beaten path, he reportedly bent her over during the act stating “’Men of God do this.’”

During the interview, Dakola is visibly distraught and takes several pauses to recuperate, while covering her face with napkin in hand. This story is all too familiar. Although cases of rape and molestation go largely unreported due to fear of stigma, negative repercussions and victim-blaming, we do know that sexual abuse is commonly perpetrated by community members we trust. In instances of child sexual abuse like Dakolo’s, “grooming” often precludes the abuse in which the perpetrator steadily gains the victim’s trust.

This insidious form of seduction is now gaining more attention in modern media. Advocates such as Oprah Winfrey are now re-emphasizing their own experiences with child sexual abuse as well as how abuse may occur without the victim having made anyone aware.

However, universal is the continual responsibility we place on victims to stand up and tell their truths, even in the face of the harmful consequences that may follow. Often, these accusations come with little to no recourse for the accused (e.g. Donald Trump and his 24 accusers of sexual assault).

Dakolo herself directly mentions her own opinions on speaking out in the face of undoubted adversity. She states, “To all the women out there that have been a victim to this issue, you are not alone. Your truth will be heard whether people believe your truth or not.”

Upon the surfacing of the sexual abuse allegations, Pastor Fatoyinbo announced his leave of absence in an Instagram post published on July 1st, 2019. In it he states, “Although it would break my heart to tatters to stay a day without doing ministry I believe it is the right thing to do at this time…Though, I do not understand all that is happening…kindly pray for me and the congregation of COZA as we seek the face of the Lord during these turbulent times.”

Soon after the allegations, protestors hold signs with hashtags such as “#ChurchToo” and “Thou Shall Not Rape” while encircling the COZA headquarters in Abuja. Counter-protestors defending the Pastor accompany them as well.

Whether these accusations will affect the Pastor’s long-term career, only time will tell. In the meantime, we may want to re-evaluate the vigor in which we defend or support perpetrators of sexual abuse. Reflection into the internal biases that may influence our decisions to do so are important as we understand why violence against women and child sexual abuse continue to occur at alarmingly high rates in Nigeria, and the world.  

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