#SurvivingTerdoo: a new movement that seeks to end the digital culture of voyeurism

Dennis Da-ala Mirilla
#SurvivingTerdoo; a new movement seeks to end the digital culture of voyeurism

This week Twitter users had mixed feelings after different women came online to lament their experience with the writer Terdoh Bendega, who, through multiple aliases, solicited nude selfies from women and shared them on the internet across four social media platforms; Twitter, Snapchat, Telegram and WhatsApp.

They’ve adopted the hashtag #SurvivingTerdoo.

The touchstones of the 21st century, the #MeToo movement, #BlackLivesMatter, and #EndSARS all started with a hashtag but have gone on to reshape the culture in big and small ways.

At some point, Terdoh Bendega was reportedly @terdoh @Yabaslut @lereslut @leresIut @whoislere @Terdoo @Olvdara @pervertedhost (all these accounts that have now all been deleted) on Twitter and Snapchat.

In a calculated scheme, the women revealed how he pursued sexual relationships with them, pressured them into sending intimate videos and pictures of themselves and then blocked them across social media platforms.

At least two women said that he had made sex tapes of them repeatedly without their consent. One woman said long after a relationship with him during which she sent him videos of herself, she found them randomly on Twitter. When she asked him to take down the videos, she said he blocked her and left the videos up.

She said she reported the account, but the videos remained on Twitter, and she would randomly see them on her For You page. Other women said that he sent them videos of his genitals out of the blue.

Read also: Social media birthed a youthful ‘Obidient Movement’; it may have changed Nigerian politics forever

#SurvivingTerdoo; a new movement seeks to end the digital culture of voyeurism

On Telegram, he was king. Screenshots seen by Technext show that he prides himself in his sexual conquest, sharing clips he got through crooked means with members of the telegram channel Hoe Corner. Hoe Corner has now been deleted.

Now the women have to bare the brunt of his sexual ego.

The rise of the voyeurs

Men and women are both sexual beings looking for love, emotional support and companionship as they exist with each other on earth.

But for years, several cultures have promoted the idea that for men to wear their sexuality on their sleeves, it must entail some disrespect and disregard for the humane feelings of women. This idea that a man’s sexual conquest is not really complete is he hasn’t subdued, tamed and brought the woman, his wife, his lover, or his significant other to kneel before him.

Among the Ukuli Bula people in Omo River Valley, Ethiopia, women are brutalised with dried sticks, whipped and bruised by each other as a rite of passage, a test of how deserving they are to be with a man.

#SurvivingTerdoo; a new movement seeks to end the digital culture of voyeurism
Images of Terdoh Bendega posted on Twitter

To date, the idea that subjecting women to a series of forced marriages is a type of price of war has created a human rights catastrophe in war-torn areas, from Mosul to Mariupol.

When men began to occupy digital spaces, these ideologies gave rise to revenge porn, one of the earliest attacks that the new digital culture launched on women. Years later, the story remains the same.

The activities of Terdoh Bendega have not been unfamiliar on the internet; man collects compromising pictures and videos from women, man makes sex tapes without women’s consent and shares them with friends and sells them just for the fun of it.

But the #SurvivingTerdoo movement underscores how social media companies have all but failed to curtail this behaviour, especially in countries like Nigeria which have only recently begun to take matters of social media companies in their countries being unregulated seriously.

And so it’s no surprise that even after his accounts have been reported, the videos have been reported, he has been able to return to Twitter and Snapchat, and Telegram posting the content as the women watch in utter disbelief.

How to stop voyeurism

On the internet, these activities have been able to go not unnoticed, but the facts and nuances are ignored. They have been presented by some of the news media and the conservative influencers on social media as a kind of cautionary tale for women who are stupid enough to share below-the-belt selfies with a partner rather than the criminal offence of voyeurism that was at play.

While voyeurism in its most granular sense refers to the practice of gaining sexual pleasure from watching others when they are naked or engaged in sexual activity, in more recent times, it has become the umbrella term for legal proceedings of filming a partner without their consent in societies more attune with stopping the activities of the Terdoh Bendegas of this world.

There are many reasons why it’s taking so many years for the women at the forefront of this movement to come forward. At the top of the list is society’s concerted effort to silence women, as if silencing it can create an alternative universe in which its underbelly is not rotten by abuse and sexual crimes.

Victims have been silenced by disbelief and the fear of disbelief if they speak up about their encounters with these men. Other times victims have been told not to “ruin the lives” of their abusers by seeking recompense either through the judicial system or in the court of public opinion.

#SurvivingTerdoo; a new movement seeks to end the digital culture of voyeurism

One of the Twitter users who started the #SurvivingTerdoo movement said that she still feels unsafe speaking to the media for now.

However, she has posted a short audio clip, a telephone conversation with Terdoh Bendega. “I’m really sorry for the things I did to you, but you’re ruining my life right now,” he said in the clip. “I don’t care,” she said. “When you do something so despicable, you expect consequences.”

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