By Faith Nyasuguta
A renowned Ivorian TV host has been suspended for a year for laughingly encouraging a former rapist to use a dummy to demonstrate how he abused his victims on live TV.
The programme was aired on prime time by the private Nouvelle Chaine Ivorienne (NCI) channel and it has stirred a massive outcry with over 50,000 people demanding that TV host Yves de M’Bella be punished.
At the start of the programme, the television host introduced his guest as a convicted sex offender.
He then signaled the guest to a mannequin: “Can you show us how you committed rape?”
Details revealed that De M’Bella was laughing as he handed the mannequin to his guest, a former rapist.
The host then helped the guest lay the mannequin on the ground and asked him to detail how he sexually assaulted his victims.
He further asked him how he chose his target victims, and whether he preferred them “slim or fat” and whether the victims “enjoyed it.”
What followed next angered viewers in the Ivory Coast, who lambasted the prime-time show segment and called on the West African country’s broadcasting watchdog to punish the production team.
As the show closed down on Tuesday night, the former rapist was directed to ‘advice’ women on how to shield themselves from being raped in a segment set to decry rape and any other sexual assault.
The host has since been dismissed from all radio and television stations for 30 days by the West African Nation’s audiovisual authority HACA.
On Thursday, women were seen gathering outside the TV station demanding that rape victims be given a chance to raise awareness on the growing sexual violence.
“It’s a widely-watched channel in a country with a high illiteracy rate,” Fatim Sylla, a feminist blogger said.
“People see things on TV and copy them,” Sylla, a member of Allo Benevoles, an organization that helps the development of women and children said. “So let’s use television to educate people.”
The follow-up protests were streamed live on social media, whose users have expressed their disappointment in the prime-time programme.
Benedicte Joan, who heads of an association of rape victims said the punishment against De M’Bella is still not enough.
“I’m sincerely sorry to have shocked everyone while trying to raise awareness,” De Mbella wrote on Facebook. “I made an error.”
Even after numerous apologies, Joan said that De M’Bella “should never again appear on our screens.” De M’Bella has since been barred from hosting the Miss Ivory Coast beauty pageant, set for this Saturday.
The broadcaster has already met up with two organizers of Wednesday’s riots to offer their “sincerest apologies” for giving a nod to the broadcast.
“They acknowledged their mistake (and) informed us that an investigation is underway into the team” that prepared the show, Joan said via Instagram.
At the moment, Ivory Coast lacks official data on rape and sexual assault but accrued evidence points to the crime being widespread.