The Business of entertaining abuse.

23 Feb

The adage, ‘The show must go on’, seems to extend when it comes to enabling perpetrators of abuse.

For decades we have witnessed how perpetrators and their enablers thrive in the entertainment industry. The disgusting behaviour is either overlooked or accepted through undermining commentary such as ” Yeah, that’s what he does, but he is so talented”. An excuse that ultimately protects the alleged perpetrators and their enablers. One of the leading factors is attached to power and control. Abusers thrive in a space that they know they can control. They hold power through their financial wealth, fear, and intimidation they instill in those who dare to speak out. They intentionally set up spaces, people, and businesses whose work is to push the patriarchal narrative, protect them, and silence victims.

In 2018, a prominent journalist supported many survivors in sharing their traumas and speaking out on various forms of abuse that they suffered at the hands of a well-known filmmaker. The journalist even admitted that he had evidence that the alleged perpetrator’s business partner was aware of previous crimes; email threads proved that victims reported to her, and she chose to overlook it and ignore it. Many people in the industry seemed to know of his behaviour. The journalist was well aware of the additional trauma we all suffered, including one of us trying to take their life. He chose not to share the information on the enabler, his excuse, and the shame it affects her business. The choice to remain silent on such crucial information is a perfect example of how many choose to protect their own yes; the enabler is white. And admitting that somebody’s finances are more valuable than the life of a black women’s body. The show had to go on!!!

In the same case, when the story broke, more evidence emerged as people acknowledged that they were aware of his abusive behaviour and tried many tactics to discourage the victims and distract them. At the time, I was on a Whatsapp group with industry stakeholders, and I was a little taken back by one of the members, who labels herself a vocal feminist and activist. Her comment in the group was that we need to let the court decide and give him space. I immediately left the group as I knew it would not be safe. After I spoke out and the article was published in a newspaper in 2018, the same person was speedy to tell me that one of the other survivors is unstable as she suffers from Bipolar, therefore undermining the victim’s credibility. She continued to brag that she would then be setting up a meeting with the alleged perpetrator as she was aware of his previous abuse, and the meeting would be to instruct him to come forward and confess. I shared the news with some of the other survivors that I have been in contact with, and all of us agreed that it would have been great to show that solidarity to the victims/survivors, which would strengthen our cases. 

I then realised that this person was also protecting the perpetrator’s business partner, as they are friends. The mentioned business partner tried to intimidate me with a legal letter, including other industry stakeholders. After months with my legal team responding, confirming I would be willing to meet and discuss the claims against me, she went silent. I soon discovered that she did not have consent to include the other stakeholders in the legal letter. An insider informed me that it was a joint effort with a women’s group to try and silence me as I did not stop questioning their motives. The same group tried to end my show by instructing the industry to stay away from me. It worked for a while, but I rose again after healing from emotional stress. 

Please note the survivor list is very long, and I have only been in contact with approximately 10. When I refer to them, I do have consent to share the information.

I have documented our horrific journey from then; you can check my previous blogs, social media comments, and more.

Do commissions offer adequate and transparent support?

In 2019, several people, including myself, applied to the Commission of Gender Equality; our complaints were against a group that had proven to show solidarity towards the above perpetrator. For some reason, I was only called for a hearing. The other applications did not receive a reply or feedback. In one case, the applicant did the interview, sent through adequate information and evidence then all her files went missing, and the CGE claimed that there was never an open case. I made various complaints against the officer of my file who referred to my matter as bickering between women, and the day of the hearing arrived with a one-page document. However, there were multiple applications, files, documents, sound recordings. He answered that there was too much information to sift through. The work seemed to be too overwhelming when there was a lot of evidence. I did not pursue it as the whole matter sent me into an emotional breakdown.

The campaigns do not follow through and exclude many.

When 16 Days of activism and women’s month role around, the industry stakeholders host events about tackling GBV. These are necessary if they plan to implement support when needed. If an organization cannot offer true solidarity and support to those who speak out, it should focus on other areas. Claiming to provide support, and then when needed, the victims are left to fend for themselves. The false sense of support and solidarity adds to the initial trauma. Tremendous work is done through workshops equipping women in the industry, which is greatly appreciated, but it should include all. If you want to follow feminist principles, we should adopt Intersectional feminism to include all the marginalized, such as the LGBTQI community, people living with disabilities and more. So the campaign cannot just be aimed at wom_n and children only. We are aware that the statistics show a higher percentage of abuse against wom_n. Still, we need to consider that the data has excluded the marginalized community. There is an inadequate statistic on the deaths of black lesbians and the high level of abuse that the trans community faces by being denied health care based on who they are. That is a violation of one human right. The abuse in same-partner relationships is ridiculed and dismissed.

Are trans people invited to these spaces? Are all Queer people protected and appraised on set?

For more information on Intersectional feminism, read up on Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term over 30 years ago.

Government bodies and corporate bodies can make a difference.

In 2021, GIZ (The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH), https://www.giz.de

hosted a panel discussion of GBV in the entertainment industry. They were aware of the Herstory of all stakeholders who participated, including the CGE application and the placement of a convicted perpetrator on one of the governing councils. When activists questioned and requested the entity remove a convicted abuser, there was no show of solidarity, although the previous campaigns promised to show support to those who spoke out. The CEO told us to take up the matter with the Ministry involved. We did; they heard us and removed the abuser.

Regarding the 2021 online event, the hosts removed another participant and me. I did not speak on the panel, but they pulled the other participant after asking pertinent questions, an accurate indication of silencing a victim. We approached the organizer afterward, and they denied blocking us. Then the other participant received a threatening call from one of the hosts. When I sent an email requesting why this was tolerated and allowed, another example of verbal abuse, I did not receive a reply.

Broadcasters choose ratings over solidarity.

In the case with Idols SA, there were allegations of abuse against one of their judges, and they chose to dismiss him then rehire him for the next season. It seems apparent that the broadcaster has chosen to ignore the previous conviction and proof of verbal abuse and cyber-bullying.

Once again, instead of solidarity and support from key stakeholders who have the financial support and gains to make a difference, the activists and survivors are holding the fight. When will this change?

The previous conviction:

https://www.sowetanlive.co.za/news/2008-05-26-somizi-turns-reticent-as-he-is-found-guilty/

A case of cyber-bullying.

In 2021, the Idols judge posted the reporters’ text and telephone numbers on his Instagram page. This action led to the newspaper acting editor Kabelo Khumalo’s wife has been threatened with rape, as has Julia Madibogo of City Press. In contrast, their families have received threats of violence.

The full article.

https://themediaonline.co.za/2021/01/somizi-leaps-out-of-frying-pan-and-into-the-fire-by-abusing-and-doxing-journalists/.

So it appears that the stakeholders who could add value and provide the necessary change have chosen to window dress the pandemic of GBV. I addressed this with a PR agency in 2021, which wanted me to run a social media campaign for the broadcaster. I refused as I chose not to be used as a puppet to talk about issues when the company protects and celebrates convicted abusers. The stakeholders of the GIZ event vowed to remove abusers from sets, yet there has been silence on the Idols Judge. Once again, I refer to the necessity of approaching feminism and activism through an intersectional lens.

Please see the references below if you or somebody you know needs help.

For the LGBTQI community

The Other Foundation is an African trust that advances equality and freedom in Southern Africa, focusing on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Other Foundation gathers support to defend and promote the human rights and social inclusion of homosexual and bisexual women and men and transgender and intersex people in southern Africa. The foundation supports groups in an intelligent way that enables them to work effectively for lasting change, recognizing the particular dynamics of race, poverty and inequality, sex, national origin, heritage, and politics in our part of the world. It does this by working both as a fundraiser and a grantmaker.

www.out.org.za 

Counselling and healing

https://www.letsatsihealingspace.biz/

www.rapecrisis.co.za 

Legal Aid:

Legal aid in South Africa.

1. Kamfer lawyers

Attorneys@kamferlegal.co.za

TEL: 012 304 0870

CELL: 0817193935 / 0761517948

kamferlegal.co.za

2. Joselynn Fember

info@fember.co.za

joselynn@fember.co.za

+27 66 203 6047

fember.co.za

3. Women’s Legal centre

WLCcommunications@wlce.co.za

Cape Town Office

Telephone: 021 424 5660

Johannesburg Office

Telephone: 0 11 339 1099

wlce.co.za

4. Pro bono

Johannesburg

t: 011 339 6080

f: 086 512 2222

e: info@probono.org.za

5. Pro Bono

Durban

t: (031) 301 6178

f: (031) 301 6941

projects: shamika@probono.org.za

clinics: gugulethu@probono.org.za

6. Pro Bono

Cape Town

t: 087 806 6070/1/2

f: 086 665 6740

e: infocpt@probono.org.za

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