The #AREWAMETOO campaign which took off earlier this year with the aid of Twitter as a means to empower victims of sexual assault in conservative Northern Nigeria as well as to create a safe space for them to have healthy conversations has recently being labelled as an underground platform for the advocacy of LGBTQ+ rights.
Following the commencement of the campaign by activist Fakhrriyyah Hashim in January this year after a Twitter user, Khadija Adamu called out the man who abused her; over a hundred women in Northern Nigeria shared their stories of sexual assault under the hashtag #AREWAMETOO.
Since then, there has been an array of mixed reactions ranging from a number of men expressing concern that the trademark of the #AREWAMETOO movement involved naming and shaming men on social media, asserting that the tweets under the hashtag were out to unjustly ruin their reputation. In the last few days, amidst the blow-up of this campaign arose a ploy to silence all those who were involved in the advocacy by alleging them of a hidden agenda to use the platform as a façade to champion the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.
Unfortunately, the person who championed this allegation is no other than a young Nigerian Islamic Scholar, Abu Jabir Penabdul who goes by the handle @penabdul. This is an Irony as the Convener of the movement had earlier in an interview with writer and poet, Amatallah Saulawa, expressed her intention to bring religious leaders into the conversations.
Convener of the #AREWAMETOO movement, Fakhrriyyah Hashim who happens to be a guest speaker at the Ahmadu Bello University Writing Festival, slated for 27th July, has been severely bashed on Twitter with so many issuing threats and online abuse to dissuade her from showing up at the event. Many have come out to challenge her to declare a statement revealing her stance on the LGBTQ+ ideology if only to clear all ambiguities.
According to Mustapha Bulama, An award-winning Nigerian cartoonist and illustrator who is also a Co-Guest speaker at the Ahmadu Bello University Writing Festival, the allegations may have stemmed out of the fact that the #AREWAMETOO convener, Fakhrriyyah Hashim had in the past tweeted a message that passively supported the United Nation’s Deputy Secretary-General, Amina J. Muhammed’s stance on LGBTQ+ rights.
The allegations have led to a war of words between those whose aim is to intimidate women rights activists pursuing justice for victims of sexual violence and those whose ardent support for the movement is unrelenting.
These threats, however, are unlikely to silence the voices of Arewa women as over a month ago, in an interview with BBC Pidgin, Fakhrriyyah Hashim stated that although she has received threats and online abuse for the #ArewaMeToo advocacy, she will remain dogged in her fight against sexual abuse in Nigeria. Supporters of the movement have also affirmed that insofar as the campaign is breaking down the historic taboo around sex, the naming and shaming of sexual abusers on social media will continue.