Ten more Black women have accused Tim Westwood of sexual abuse

DJ Tim Westwood
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This article includes discussion of rape and sexual abuse

Ten more Black women have spoken out to accuse former long-time BBC Radio 1 DJ Tim Westwood of sexual abuse. This includes one woman who claims that Westwood repeatedly raped her when she was 14 years old. These further allegations come after seven Black women spoke out in April, accusing the celebrated DJ of “predatory and unwanted sexual behaviour” taking place between 1992 and 2017.

An open secret

In April 2022, the BBC and the Guardian released a joint investigation based on seven Black women’s allegations of sexual abuse against Westwood. The alleged abuse spans a period of more than two decades.

Although this is the first time these allegations gained mainstream press coverage, Westwood’s predatory behaviour has long been one of the music industry’s worst kept secrets.

This makes Westwood’s longtime employers complicit in his abuse of young Black women and girls. Rather than investigating the allegations against the DJ, Westwood’s employers – including the BBC and Global – maintained Westwood’s platform and protected his reputation.

For a number of years, journalists – mostly young women of colour – have tried to investigate the historical allegations against Westwood. However, they came up against extreme resistance when seeking information and trying to raise awareness about Westwood’s misconduct.

Following the release of the BBC and Guardian investigation in April, journalist Nadine White shared:

Read on...

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Others had their pitches repeatedly rejected by news outlets, reflecting the mainstream media’s tendency to protect powerful white men while silencing marginalised young women. Sharing her frustrating experience of this, journalist Iman Amrani tweeted:

Highlighting one of the ways Westwood’s employers protected the DJ against sexual abuse allegations, journalist Lorraine King said:

Still avoiding accountability

Responding to the joint BBC and Guardian investigation into allegations against the DJ in April, the BBC‘s director general Tim Davie stated that he had “seen no evidence of complaints” made to the corporation against Westwood.

However, in July, it was revealed that the BBC had in fact received a number of sexual misconduct complaints against Westwood, including one that was referred to the police.

Responding to this news, actress and public speaker Kelechi Okafor tweeted:

Westwood’s alleged actions are heinous – but the BBC is also complicit. Rumours of the DJ’s sexual misconduct have been an open secret for many years. Rather than investigating the allegations, Westwood’s employers protected the DJ and helped him to maintain his powerful position in the Black British music industry, which he used to abuse and exploit Black young women and girls.

Statutory rape of a minor

The BBC‘s gross mishandling of the situation continues. In its story revealing the further allegations made against Westwood, the BBC states that Westwood stands “accused of sex with a 14-year-old“.

This language is incredibly harmful. Because a child cannot consent, adults engaging in sexual contact with children under the age of consent is statutory rape. Calling it anything else simply normalises, sanitises, and excuses child sexual abuse.

This reporting reflects the widespread adultification of Black children, who tend to be treated and regarded as adults. This bias has tangible consequences. It leads to the inadequate protection and safeguarding of Black children, opening the door to a host of children’s rights abuses.

Clarifying this, psychologist Guilaine Kinouani tweeted:

Explaining the gravity of such a misuse of language, the Rowan Project – a specialist sexual abuse service provider – posted in February:

Still no accountability

Highlighting the ongoing lack of action being taken against Westwood, PR consultant Ronke Lawal said:

This continuous inaction speaks to some of the reasons why Black women and girls who are affected by sexual violence are so reluctant to report abuse and seek support.

In this society, Black women and girls are not protected from violence. And they are not believed when they speak out about the harm they have experienced. This is rooted in a culture of racism and misogyny which sexualises and adultifies Black girls and young women.

This is exemplified in the revelations of Met Police officers strip searching Black schoolgirls. Other officers took and shared dehumanising photos of murdered sisters Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry. Meanwhile, public services still fail to meet the needs of Black women and girls, and often put them at further risk of harm.

This is precisely why Westwood’s alleged victims were afraid to speak out. We must listen to these women, amplify their stories, and hold all those who contributed to their abuse accountable.

Featured image via Rory/Wikimedia Commons, CC by 2.0, resized 770 x 403 px

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  • Show Comments
    1. I sometimes wonder whether male aggression or ‘toxic masculinity’ in general could be related to the same constraining societal idealization of the ‘real man’ (albeit perhaps more subtly than in the past)? I’d presume he’d be stiff-upper-lip physically and emotionally strong, financially successful, confidently fights and wins, assertively solves problems, and exemplifies sexual prowess. (Maybe society should be careful about what it collectively wishes for.)

      Shortly after Donald Trump was sworn-in as president, a 2016 survey of American women conducted not long after his abundant misogyny was exposed to the world revealed that a majority of respondents nonetheless found him appealing, presumably due to his alpha-male great financial success and confidence.

      Meantime, there stubbornly remains an outdated general societal mentality, albeit perhaps subconsciously held: Men can take care of themselves, and boys are basically little men. It’s the mentality that might help explain why the book Childhood Disrupted was only able to include one man among its six interviewed adult subjects, there being such a small pool of ACE-traumatized men willing to formally tell his own story of childhood abuse.

      It’s a continuing subtle societal take-it-like-a-man mindset; and one in which so many men, even with anonymity, would prefer not to ‘complain’ to some stranger/author about his torturous childhood, as that is what ‘real men’ do. [I tried multiple times contacting the book’s author via internet websites in regards to this non-addressed florescent elephant in the room, but I received no response.]

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