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Ivorian women protest over how ‘ex-rapist’ demonstrated victim’s abuse

Ivorian Women Protest

Outrage persisted Wednesday in Ivory Coast two days after a TV host laughingly encouraged a man presented as a former rapist to use a dummy to demonstrate how he abused his victims.

The programme, broadcast at prime time by the private Nouvelle Chaine Ivorienne (NCI) channel, caused a massive outcry, with a petition signed by more than 46,500 people demanding that the presenter Yves de M’Bella be punished.

The West African country’s audiovisual authority HACA suspended De M’Bella for 30 days from all radio and television stations.

He has since been barred from hosting the Miss Ivory Coast beauty pageant, set for Saturday.

The show saw De M’Bella laughing as he handed a mannequin to his guest, described as a former rapist.

De M’Bella helped him to lay the dummy on the ground and asked him to explain in detail how he raped his victims.

At the end of the “demonstration,” the interviewed man was encouraged to give women “advice” on how to avoid being raped, in a segment meant to denounce sexual assault.

On Wednesday around 10 women gathered outside NCI, demanding that the station set aside time to give voice to rape victims and raise public awareness about sexual violence.

“It’s a widely-watched channel in a country with a high illiteracy rate,” feminist blogger Fatim Sylla told AFP.

“People see things on TV and copy them,” said Sylla, a member of Allo Benevoles, an association that aids the development of women and children. “So let’s use television to educate people.”

Wednesday’s protest was live-streamed on social media, which have been burning with anger over the programme.

The head of an association of rape victims, Benedicte Joan, said the sanctions against De M’Bella were not enough.

Despite his apologies, De M’Bella “should never again appear on our screens,” she said.

NCI management met with two of the organisers of Wednesday’s protest to offer their “sincerest apologies” for allowing the broadcast.

“They acknowledged their mistake (and) informed us that an investigation is under way into the team” that prepared the show, Joan said on Instagram.

Ivory Coast has no official statistics on rape, but some evidence says the crime is widespread.

In June, an NGO called CPDEFM, which campaigns for the rights of children, women and minorities, published an in-depth probe which concluded that in the space of two years, 416 women had been killed in Abidjan alone.

It also identified 1,290 marriages of girls aged less than 18 and 1,121 rapes.