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Consent, Kissing and Groping in Nigeria’s Reality TV Show

The kissing and groping of two housemates in Nigeria’s reality TV show, Big Brother Naija, while they were asleep, have led to discussions on sexual consent, rape and victim blaming on social media. Can the organisers of the Big Brother Naija reality show do more than evict Kemen from the house?

The kissing and groping of two housemates in Nigeria’s reality TV show, Big Brother Naija, while they were asleep, have led to discussions on sexual consent, rape and victim blaming on social media.

Big Brother housemate, Ekemini Ekerete ‘Kemen’, 27, was disqualified and evicted from the show for groping fellow housemate Tokunbo Idowu ‘TBoss’, 32.

In this video from two weeks ago, after Kemen says he is proud of Tboss, she replies him, ‘‘You, someone cannot sleep in the same bed with you without you groping’’.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TA8ID1Ylpq0

Video credit: uchenna mbuko/YouTube

‘‘What do you mean by groping?’’ Kemen asks.

‘‘What do you understand by groping?’’

‘‘I don’t know that word’’.

After a couple of awkward laughs from Tboss, Kemen says ‘‘We did a cuddling thing’’.

‘‘It was cuddling, but groping’’, says Tboss. She squeezes her hands and resorts to sign language to show ‘groping’.

‘Forgive me. It was just the first time. Did it happen a second time?’’

Read: Should Nigeria get to dictate what Africa can watch?

It did, and with his eviction, it became the final time. In this video which went viral on social media 5 March, Kemen who is lying on the bed can be seen surreptitiously raising his blanket, moving towards Tboss, and slipping his hand under Tboss’ blanket.

Kemen says it was a misunderstanding, after Big Brother had announced his eviction from the house for breaking house rules.

For many Tweeps, this is why one seeks consent, to clear up any misunderstandings.

The other housemates were shocked when Big Brother announced Kemen’s disqualification. And when they heard he was being disqualified because of Tboss they were unfriendly towards her.

Eventually though, the housemates become friendlier when Big Brother showed them the video of Kemen’s indiscretion and Tboss told her side of the story. But in the time lag between both events, viewers who are privy to the happenings before the housemates had already called the housemates out.

Debbie Rise, 24, another housemate, had also kissed Bassey while he was asleep. Big Brother has taken no disciplinary action yet, but they were calls for action.

Read: Why you can’t blame a mini-skirt

Nigeria’s Senator Chris Anyanwu sponsored a Sexual and Offences bill which was passed into law in 2015, to ‘‘make provision about sexual offences, their definition, prevention and the protection of all persons from harm, unlawful sexual acts, and for purposes connected therewith’’. The law says this with regards to consent in Section 43 subsection 4:

‘‘(4) The circumstances in which a person is incapable in law of

appreciating the nature of an act which causes penetration

referred to in sub-section (4) include circumstances where

such a person is, at the time of the commission of such act —–

(a) asleep;

(b) unconscious;

(c) in an altered state of consciousness;

(d) under the influence of medicine, drug, alcohol or

other substance to the extent that the person’s

consciousness or judgment is adversely affected;

(e) mentally impaired; or

(f) a child.’’

There are other approaches to consent: No Means No, and Yes Means Yes.

In 2016 Germany’s parliament passed a No Means No law. The law classifies groping as a sex crime, and made it easier for people who have been raped to press charges, and for the police to successfully prosecute it.

Others argue though, that Yes Means Yes better protects victims in cases when someone’s capacity to withdraw consent is impaired. For example, people who are drugged or asleep, etc. These situations in any case, raise questions about the quality of consent.

Can the organisers of the Big Brother Naija reality show do more than evict Kemen from the house?

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