The objectification of women and the sexualisation of children in skits in recent times is a worrisome developing trend, the Centre for Accountability and Public Participation has lamented.
The Civil Society Organisation noted that skits containing such harmful and repulsive storylines perpetuate dangerous stereotypes that validate the exploitation of vulnerable individuals. It also forsters a culture of misogyny, sexism and violence in the country.
In a statement signed by Zikora Ibeh, CAPPA Policy and Research Officer, the CSO noted with grave concern numerous instances where such comic videos also exploit the innocence of children for entertainment purposes.
It referenced the April 9 occurrence where two Instagram comedians posted a now-deleted skit featuring a two-year-old girl who was the subject of an inappropriate sexual scenario and was abused by a male adult depicted as the landlord in the video.
Similarly, on April 4, another popular Facebook page shared a video featuring a distressed and undressed hotel secretary, who was pleading with a man filming her to stop. It was learnt that the individual had initially engaged the woman in a consensual arrangement, but as soon as she removed her clothes while inside a room with him, he revealed that the entire situation was a prank, and a third party was recording. Subsequently, he shared the footage, pontificating on her morals and those of Nigerian women more broadly. These are just but a few out of numerous similar videos uploaded daily online in Nigeria, they noted.
To this end, CAPPA stressed that “these comedy skits have crossed the line of human decency and morality, and that Nigerians must urgently confront the glaring issues they promote.”
In addition, the sexualization of minors and dehumanisation of young women in the videos are particularly disturbing as inappropriate and offensive jokes are made about their bodies, clothing, and behaviour. This pattern trivialises and holds the potential to ultimately normalise the issue of child exploitation and violation of people’s right to dignity, CAPPA pointed out.
The organisation further observed that such skits often dehumanise and stigmatise sex workers, perpetuating the harmful notion that they are unworthy of respect or basic human rights.
Therefore, “by portraying them as valid targets for ridicule and abuse, the entertainment industry contributes to their vulnerability and exploitation. In addition to these issues, the use of derogatory language and crude humour in these skits demeans women and reinforces toxic masculinity, ultimately contributing to a culture of violence and sexual harassment of women and girls.
They called on skit makers to reassess their storylines remarking that “by ceasing the production and distribution of content that objectifies, dehumanises, or sexualizes women and children, and committing to comedy that is free from discrimination and exploitation, we can create a positive change.
Additionally, ongoing dialogue and collaboration with women, children, gender rights advocates, and other stakeholders are essential to genuinely consider and integrate their perspectives and experiences into the creative process,” they suggested.
They urged the Nigerian comedy industry to strive to develop educational initiatives that raise awareness about the negative impact of harmful comedy content and actively promote mutual respect, empathy, and equity within the industry and beyond.