The Problematic Treatment of Rape in Nollywood Movies

Omolayo Nkem January 31, 2017

There’s a lot to love and hate in Nollywood movies, but one thing I’ve really come to detest is the treatment of rape.

I’ve now watched two Nollywood movies where the guy ends up “accidentally” sleeping with the housemaid because he was drunk and sleepy.

Other characters in the film treat the incident as if it were a simple mistake. The guy never apologizes, although he ends up taking responsibility for the baby.

If anything, the guy blames his wife or girlfriend for depressing him to the point of drinking and sleeping with the maid.

Meanwhile, the affected housemaid becomes scared and thinks, I can’t tell anyone the oga slept with me. She eventually runs away or keeps it a secret, which is accurate.

In the other movie, the guy’s sister flat-out says her brother AND the girl are to blame for this problem, the problem being the baby on the way.

In reality, the poor girl did everything but consent to the whole ordeal: As she placed water at the guy’s bedside table, he drunkenly grabbed her and pulled her to the bed, despite her resistance.

In both movies, the victims end up forgiving and living with their rapists. The movie completely ignores the victims’ lack of consent, choice, voice and her possible trauma.

Their only reactions are running away or acting like it never happened. They never express anger at their aggressors (inaccurate), but instead fear repercussions from the girlfriend, wife, or sister (probably accurate) — as if being grabbed and raped by your boss is just a part of the work hazard.

But even if these movies don’t label rape and the victims aren’t scripted to treat it as such, it’s still rape.

A man grabbed a woman that was subordinate to him, was in a strictly professional relationship with him, and he pulls her on to a bed or couch to have sex with her.

That’s the textbook definition of rape, and the fact that Nollywood movies treat it so casually is extremely problematic.

I’ve seen an additional two movies where rape has actually been called “rape,” but the consequences were little to none. In one movie, “Azonto Babes,” a campus hotshot who frequently pays for sex is enraged when his new love interest continually turns him down because she is uninterested in him and even more uninterested in prostituting herself.

In a fit of rage, he kidnaps and rapes her before returning her back to campus. Trauma is depicted as the girl cries to her friends. The boy ends up getting expelled from school, and their story line takes up a total of 5 minutes of the movie.

In another movie, the village menace ends up raping at least two women. Their families come complaining to the boy’s father that he raped their sister or mother. However, nothing ended up happening and the movie simply drops the boy’s story line as other parts of the movie are resolved.

But at least they called it “rape.”

Whether it’s called “rape” or not, the consequences and treatment of the matter are extremely subpar. It’s treatment trivializes the matter and disregards the importance of consent. Most importantly, it delivers little to no backlash on the aggressor. The lack of legal and even social consequences delivers an underlying message that rape is not an abominable act.

While some might think, It’s just a movie, the truth is that movies have the power to reflect and set social norms.

Filmmakers have to stop using rape as just a trope with which to move their story along.

It is the responsibility of filmmakers to ensure that they treat matters, such as rape, with the gravity that they deserve. They should set a precedence and example about the consequences of such actions, whether or not the perpetrator was inebriated.

Poll Do you think Nollywood deals with rape inappropriately??

Last Edited by:Abena Agyeman-Fisher Updated: January 31, 2017


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