#MeToo: Hashtag stirs conversation on sexual assault on social media

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Alyssa Milano

The hashtag has lead women to speak up on issues of sexual harassment and share their stories.

Victims of sexual assault are revealing themselves and sharing their stories on social media with the hashtag #MeToo.

The extent to which the hashtag has been used across several social media platforms has stirred up serious conversations regarding sexual abuse and harassment against women.

The past couple of days has had famous American women revealing their stories and condemning sexual harassment following allegations brought against film mogul Harvey Weinstein.  With the revelation of the filmmaker's sexual assault against several women - more and more women have shared how they have been harassed by male bosses and colleagues.

The popularity of the hashtag #MeToo was sparked by a tweet from American actress Alyssa Milano.

On October 15, 2017, the actress popular for her role in the TV series "Charmed" tweeted: “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.”

 

In three days, the tweet has garnered 58,000 replies and over 20, 000 retweets from across the world. The response to this tweet and continuous use of the hashtag has created a widespread awareness online of just how many women have

Women across the world including Nigerian women have taken to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to share their stories. The outpouring of revelations has created an awareness about how often women are assaulted and who their abusers are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

One person called for male victims of sex abuse to also speak up.

 

American stars like Lady Gaga and Gabrielle Union have also tweeted the hashtag.

 

Lagos based on-air-personality Fola '4lah' Folayan was one of those who tweeted to raise awareness about this.

 

Folayan went as far as to share her story in a blog post titled ‘I’m so sorry’.

The first time i was sexually assaulted, i was 9 years old. Playing with a toy on the stairs leading to my mother’s shop. I remember him come up the stairs and rather than go on into the shop, he bent down to say hi to me. But he didn’t just say hi.

"I remember his hands moving into my dress as he kept asking me what I was doing on the stairs. I remember the glazed look on his face. his weirdly fixed smile as his hands assaulted me while i hurt. The sound of someone coming finally made him stop,” she wrote.

 

Even though this is not the first time Folayan has shared her story, she tells Pulse why she’s shared it again.

This is different because it's the first time I'm being specific. I share because it's important to draw attention to how deeply ingrained into our society abuse has become. I share because there are tons of women out there living broken lives because someone abused them. They need to know they're not alone. I share because we need to know and understand that the girl child is at risk and we must pay attention", she shared.

I share because the culture of silence around sexual abuse need to be broken before we can stop it. The silence is killing us. Finally I share because it's therapy for me. I speak my pain and let the toxic energy go out. It heals me”.

 

According to the Guardian Newspaper, the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) yesterday, October 16, 2017 disclosed that 950 domestic and sexual violence cases were reported this year. Compared to last year, it revealed there has been a 100% increase in cases reported.

Folayan said there was need to create safe places for girls and women. She also share how we could get victims of sexual harassment to speak up.

By providing safe spaces for them to talk. By being there to listen without judgement. By BELIEVING them the first time they speak. That's why Ido identiFIGHT . I hold those events because girls need a place to talk, be heard and connect with others who have been through what they've been through. That's the road to emotional healing”, she said.

So far the hashtag #MeToo highlights the predominance of assault against women in different societies.



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