…women rights activists pillory Ruel over abuse claims
…says he must suffer consequences of sexual exploitation
By Gabriella Chapman
WOMEN rights activists continue to criticise sub-editor of the Kaieteur News, Ruel Johnson, over allegations that he abused his former girlfriends.
Since youth activist, Akola Thompson, broke her silence on the matter, another of Johnson’s ex-girlfriend came out with damning allegations against him. He has since been expelled from the political party he helped form- The Citizenship Initiative (TCI) party, but women activists are calling for stiffer penalties.
Johnson, on Wednesday, attempted to apologise to his victims through a Facebook post, but Women and Gender Specialist and former UG lecturer, Wanda Chesney, said that she worries for Thompson and other victims, and Johnson’s ‘sorry’ was not enough. In fact, she said she personally supported him when he rallied for justice of Coen Johnson’s victims, and she saw him as a hero.
“I agonised for a while, all week after I read Akola Thompson’s post, thinking how to treat with this issue. It was so graphic, so gut wrenching! It cut like a dull knife, long, painful, brutal! It was not so long ago when I was culled into the fray of your outcry and onslaught of Coen Jackson. In fact, I was riding your bandwagon Ruel Johnson, ensuring that the issue was kept alive and intensifying social media pressure to get Coen Jackson to pay for his crime of grooming, raping, abusing and then discarding these young girls like yesterday’s news. You were so convincing, so deliberate and intentional in your efforts that you were looking for other young ladies who were victims of this predatory behaviour,” Chesney expressed.
She recalled when Johnson was seeking out other victims of sexual predation high and low to bring to justice Jackson, and it never occurred to her that this was his tactic to prey on young girls. In fact, Chesney pointed out that it is one of Jackson’s alleged victims that Johnson later wed. “I was so proud of you then as a black man who spoke out on behalf of these young women that I never stopped to think for one moment that you could have been part of this organised network of sadistic, misogynistic predators who preyed on hapless young ladies, selling them dreams and stealing their futures. How did I miss that? How did we ignore the obvious evidence before us to think that you were decent and had good intentions and that you were not exploiting that situation to cover your own tracks? You appeared then like the hero, the knight in shining armour seeking to restore that which was so callously taken from the victim at that time who was too traumatised to confront her abuser so you became her voice and then, her husband. These beautiful young ladies have become emotionally scarred for life because they will judge the other men who might have honourable intentions through these broken lenses. By your heinous, duplicitous actions you have destroyed their trust, their self-esteem, their innocence and their belief in good, caring men and loving relationships. So no, Sorry is not Enough! Sorry does not cut it when your pattern of behaviour is to wield your power and control to abuse defenseless young women who idiolise you. You have abused your position of trust and authority to wreak havoc in their lives,” Chesney made clear. She said that like Coen Jackson, Harvey Weinstein and all the other predators in society, Johnson must now suffer the consequences of his actions, to bring justice to all his victims and to safeguard future victims.
Meanwhile, a Gender Analysis and Psychology graduate, Salima Hinds, wrote a detailed psychological study on women and violence. She said that the recent disclosure of Ruel Johnson’s toxic behaviour provides some clear examples of psychological and emotional abuse, examples which are not only provided by the survivors, but by Johnson’s own words. “The constant references to his accusers’ mental state and well-being is hallmark manipulation. His efforts to discredit his accusers, while at the same time, framing the story as if he will hold himself accountable, not only gaslights the survivors, but is a manipulative attempt to gaslight the public. Unfortunately, living in a toxic, patriarchal society like Guyana, members of the public are quick to lap up these types of insincere platitudes. Essentially, our society is more concerned about maintaining the reputation of men and giving men multiple chances, than offering protection and justice to women and girls,” Hinds highlighted.
She further recognised that there was a cognitive dissonance that this matter has created. “For years, Ruel Johnson has carefully positioned himself as a man of principle, reason, enlightened intellect and accountability. He has quite publicly lent his voice and energies to calling out all sorts of abusers, so how can someone seemingly so principled, have these dirty skeletons in his closet? I would argue that nothing was really hidden in the closet, but people preferred to focus on the attributes that confirm an existing perception shaped by patriarchal norms. Abusers are also careful to ensure their public lives paint a picture that keeps the abuse hidden. These men are monsters waiting to pounce from a dark alleyway.
They can be charismatic, helpful, and funny. For many women, they are further silenced, because they fear not being believed. How can you convince people that the guy that seems great, terrorises you behind closed doors? If we do not change how we perceive and address abuse (who gets abused and who perpetrates abuse), we will maintain a culture of violence that largely affects all women and girls,” she posited.
Hinds said that it is high time for society to do better in recognising the harmful behaviours that seem to now be normalised. She pointed out too that it is time to commit to breaking the cycles of dysfunction. “We can start by lending our support to survivors. Women have not been silent really, we have not been listening enough. Let’s stop giving men that use toxic power, the continued platforms to maintain that power. If you or someone you know is experiencing some form of violence, please see the following resources: You can also contact your nearest police station or Ministry of Social Protection: 640-1011, 225 4186,” she advised.