Nicole Bessick sues local YouTubers for 'inciting harm and violence against women'

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Nicole Bessick
Nicole Bessick
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  • Is'Phindiselo actor Nicole Bessick has sued two South African YouTubers for "inciting harm and violence against women."
  • In a YouTube video, the two content creators rate women on their appearance and discuss who they would have sex with, marry and kill.
  • "I want to be remembered most for being a voice for the voiceless, for protecting the defenseless and most importantly, for inspiring others to do the same," she tells Channel24. 

Actor and celebrity boxing champion Nicole Bessick is leading the crusade against gender-based violence in South Africa.

In a recent YouTube video titled Smash, Marry, Kill, Nicole found herself among several women rated on their physical appearance by two male content creators. 

In the video, the YouTubers put three women against each other and then debate who they would have sex with, marry, or kill out of the three. 

Nicole has since called out the YouTubers and sued the content creators for hate speech and inciting harm and violence against women. 

"We live in a country that has one of the highest femicide rates globally and has quite literally been referred to as 'the rape capital of the world'. Videos like these need to be called out for what they are: vulgar, distasteful, criminal", says Nicole.

Nicole, known for her roles in Is'Phindiselo, Binnelanders and Broken Vows, also recently launched her NGO, Fight For Good - an all-encompassing anti-GBV initiative that "takes women from victim to warrior in 12 weeks."

Channel24 speaks to Nicole about her decision to take legal actions against the YouTubers and her NGO, Fight For Good.

"Those who are familiar with my online presence know that over the past few years, I've used my platform to protect and support victims of GBV. From sharing their stories to blasting and calling out their abusers and even offering victims access to legal and social resources. Because standing up against injustice, and shouting it from the rooftops, is the right thing to do.

"I've lost count of the number of women who've reached out to me to express that the way I speak out against GBV has empowered them and made them feel supported enough to leave the toxic, abusive environments in which they find themselves.

"That's why I speak out so loudly online. To be a voice for the voiceless, to stand up for the defenseless, and most importantly, to encourage others to do the same," Nicole tells Channel24.  

Nicole describes the content of the YouTube video, which has since been reported for its hateful content, saying: "Each woman is subjected to a 'roast' of sorts, and it gets quite vile. Jokes are made about their appearance, what they'd be like in bed, and how the hosts of this channel would kill them."

"It baffles me that people choose to make content that is so sexist and that incites violence and harm against women in South Africa. A country that has one of the highest femicide and GBV rates in the world. For subscribers, for fame, for jokes," she says. 

Nicole, who has taken legal action against the creators of the video, says she would have been a "hypocrite" if she did take action.

All of the bold, progressive moves I've made that inspire women to stand up for themselves would be in vain if I didn't practice what I preached when it happened to me.

She adds: "It's these small pockets of activism that inch us one step closer to the respect and the equality that we rightfully deserve. Sweeping it under the rug simply wasn't an option." 

"As women, we are subject to so much abuse. To make matters worse, mental health in today's day and age is at an all-time low. Suicide rates have never been higher. So there was actually no way I could let such a vulgar, distasteful video inciting harm and violence against women go unnoticed," she says. 

By speaking out about the video, Nicole says she hopes to empower women "to speak out, stand strong, call it out and fight back."

All proceeds from the lawsuit will be donated to anti-GBV shelters.

I want to be remembered most for being a voice for the voiceless, for protecting the defenceless and most importantly, for inspiring others to do the same.

Nicole, who recently launched her NGO, Fight For Good - which aids in the fight against GBV, says she has been "humbled" by the outpour of support. 

"It's the first of its kind in South Africa and is aimed at tackling GBV on the four pillars at which it exists: psychological, financial, legal and physical."

She explains further, saying: "A man does not hit you on the first date. The abuse begins long before the first punch is thrown and can even exist without him ever having thrown his hands. And that's what my NGO is geared towards. Offering women multi-faceted, flexible, bulletproof solutions to GBV that gets them "past the punch" in whatever way they require. The first initiative will launch in the lead-up to the annual, international campaign, 16 Days of Activism. 

Sharing a message with the family of friends of abuse victims, Nicole says: "Listen to her. Believe her."  "When a woman shares her story of violence, she takes the first step to breaking the cycle of abuse. It's on all of us to give her the safe space she needs to speak up and be heard.

Call out victim-blaming and counter the idea that any form of violence against women can be justified or normalised," she says.  

Channel24 reached out to creators of the above mentioned YouTube video and will update the article should more information become available. 

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