On Tuesday, 10th of July, 2023, Koromone Koroye put out a video statement on Instagram. It was a 12-minute video statement offering context on allegations of abuse against her brother, Funfere Koroye. He had been accused of harassing several women he had been intimate with over the last five years. These accusations resulted from a physical attack, caught on video last weekend, where Funfere assaulted his ex-girlfriend at an art gallery after weeks of stalking her. In the videos, he was seen attacking her unprovoked and had to be physically restrained from hitting her.
That was the kind of brazen violence we only read about on blogs, so seeing it happen in an upscale gallery made it go instantly viral. Funfere was immediately identified and publicly rebuked for his behaviour. In the days since the videos went viral, several women have come forward to share their own accounts, where they also alleged being harassed, sexually assaulted and even raped by him. These weighty accusations are accompanied by corroborative evidence of screenshots, voice recordings made by Funfere himself and even videos shared privately with one of the women where he seemed to self-harm to demonstrate his remorse after an abusive episode.
The internet swung into action with abundant proof, channelling their energies towards two distinct objectives. The first was to deter Funfere from continuing to stalk or attack his latest victim by going public and exposing his alleged abuse. The women who went public shared that Funfere’s ex-girlfriend and her lawyer had to go to three police stations before anyone would take their claims seriously and make a report. They had little trust in law enforcement agencies to protect her, so a public notice would serve as a deterrent and put a spotlight on Funfere from now on. That spotlight put the onus on Funfere to either confirm the accusations or refute them by how he behaved towards his ex and other women going forward.
This is both the witness testimony as submitted by the victim and her lawyer at the police station and the official police filing to open the investigation. In addition to this is dozens of screenshots of msgs, VNs and all manner of threatening messages. pic.twitter.com/WDJV3x632P
— Ozzy (@ozzyetomi) July 8, 2023
The second thing was to assign blame for how long this abuse had been allowed to persist. Funfere had a public profile but was not particularly public about his close friendships or relationships, so the only person with a visible public profile with whom he had a direct link was his sister Koromone. She is an outspoken advocate for women’s rights and had previously shared her beliefs that the intimate social circles of abusers are either directly complicit in the abuse that they perpetuate or enable it through their silence.
Many people demanded a public statement from Koromone denouncing her brother’s behaviour and explaining why she had ‘allowed’ the abuse to go unchecked for this long. Her silence up until that point was framed as complicity, and anyone who tried to defend her right to recuse herself from being involved in her brother’s mess was mobbed and called a hypocrite.
The justification for this stance was that Koromone and other women who identified as feminists had spoken at length in the past about how male abuse is enabled primarily by other men and demanded that friends of exposed abusers take accountability for how they could have enabled or excused abusive behaviour from their close friends. They argued that this was a similar circumstance, and now that she was in the same boat, her friends were backtracking on their statements to protect her.
This argument seemed logical on a surface level but fell apart on further investigation. It was, in fact, a Motte and Bailey fallacy, a situation where because two schools of thought share similar talking points, disingenuous people try to present them as the same thing when in fact, they are not.
When women bring up the intimate social circles of abusers taking accountability, they speak specifically of social situations where the power dynamic between the abuser and his circle is skewed in favour of the abuser’s circle. They also cite that physical violence, stalking and other abusive behaviour of this kind is rarely directed at other men. When it is exposed, strangers rush to defend the accused and question the victim’s integrity. Having credible friends and associates of an alleged abuser corroborate a victim’s account goes a long way in establishing her credibility and deterring the abuser from abusing others.
This is vastly different from what is happening in Koromone’s situation. Since 2020 Koromone has spoken extensively about growing up in a toxic home environment where anger and abuse were normalised. She conceded that the abuse influenced her, and she became abusive. She has admitted she had to consciously change her behaviour by removing herself from the toxic environment, embracing Christian faith and therapy. This is all public knowledge, shared and archived on the internet, available to anyone who cares about a balanced perspective.
The situation might bear some similarities; both scenarios have an alleged abuser, a victim and witnesses with close social ties with the abuser, but the social dynamics and historical context of Koromone’s relationship with her brother bear no similarity to the male friendships where a person chooses to continue to associate with their friend despite evidence that suggests they are abusive.
The logical fallacy of demanding that Koromone exonerate herself is that it implies that there was no merit to her demands that we acknowledge the active and passive ways in which we all fail to recognise and address abusive patterns exhibited by our friends and acquaintances. It posits that not speaking out about abuse, no matter the person or circumstance, makes them complicit, when in fact, we know that only people with equal or better social standing or power equivalents with an abuser can take action against them without consequences. Shifting the focus from Funfere’s abuse to her alleged complicity implies that the abuse perpetrated could take center stage after she had denounced him publicly.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Now that she has given an exhaustive statement, divulging deeply personal and painful aspects of her private life to refute the malicious framing of her brother’s alleged actions as a moral failing on her part, what is the next step? Funfere has not been officially investigated or charged for his obvious crime of assault at the gallery, and we still have no justice or at least relief for his victims, who are now triggered by these events and deeply distrustful of the people who have claimed to wage this righteous crusade against Koromone on their behalf.
The only person who should be held accountable has yet again escaped accountability. Instead, we have been informed by the collective behaviour of the thousands of people who shared their thoughts as tweets and comments that alleged hypocrisy from a woman is a more heinous crime than violent abuse from a man.
Was it worth it?
Gender-based violence is prevalent in Nigeria, but victims are not alone. The Mirabel Centre, Stand To End Rape, WARIF and the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency are some of the capable organisations with a proven track record of helping victims find safety away from abusers and justice for abuse.
Those in need can reach them by clicking these links: