January 24, 2021

VOICES | The problem with Social Media shaming against Babes Wodumo and abusive relationship

(Photo, Couple Artists Babes Wodumo and Mapintsha. Picture Supplied)
Opinion Article By Ncuthukazi Webber

Babes Wodumo recently posted an intimate birthday dedication to Mamphintsha on her Instagram and fans are not happy with it. The Gqom sensation shared a steamy video of her and on and off again boyfriend, Mamphintsha, relaxing in a Jacuzzi to commemorate his birthday.

Throughout the past few months the couple has faced scrutiny in the eyes of the public after the songstress live streamed a video of the music producer verbally and physically abusing her. Babes’ birthday message sent fans in an uproar, many of the fans expressed their disappointment and shamed her for rekindling her relationship with Mamphintsha.

Gender based violence is a serious problem facing South Africa and according to Statistics South Africa, the rate of femicide has significantly increased by 117% between 2015-2017. Many women in abusive relationships tend to find it difficult to leave those relationships. The dynamic between the victim and abuser involves a psychological aspect and there is a co-dependency. This may be due to insecurity or low self-esteem. Babes and Mamphintsha are just one story of many South African’s facing the cycle of abuse, and for celebrities living in a digital world, their story is displayed on social media open to public opinion.

As ordinary citizens, we have relationships with people who have been abused and still go back to their abusers. We need to examine our reactions, why do we support the victims we are close to but once the victim is famous, we place judgment and proceed with online bullying? One may argue that because she is a public figure, she has the responsibility to set an example for the young women in this country who look up to her however, society has to realise that ‘celebrity’ is simply a term given to describe people, and as human beings, we share human experiences so to participate in the public shaming of a battered woman is only contributing to the toxicity of the cycle of abuse.

Fans are allowed to feel disappointed by their role models but shaming the victim takes away from the guilt of the abuser. The danger of online bullying is that it’s another form of abuse and shifts the blame- many fans commenting that she deserves whatever she has coming to her. Babes Wodumo is deserving of sympathy and support just like many other women who have faced traumatic experiences. Her inability to remove herself from an abusive relationship does not absolve Mamphintsha of his wrongdoings. We have to focus on fighting abuse and supporting victims whether we agree with their choices or not.

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