OPINION: If you can #MuteRKelly, could you mute the taumata? 

updated By Rukuwai Tipene-Allen

If you can #MuteRKelly, could you mute the taumata?

The Surviving R Kelly docu-series that explores sexual abuse allegations against the R&B singer was everything everyone reported it to be - disgusting, disturbing, upsetting and enough to have people want to seek vengeance for the alleged crimes.

But do we have that same reaction with people closer to home?

The topics of non-consensual sex, rape, molestation, and pedophilia have long been part of the whispers and smoker's corner conversations- but what are we doing about it and when will that conversation make its way into our whaikōrero?

Numerous articles, posts, and reactions to the stories told in the Lifetime docu-series have popped up everywhere with people expressing their disgust and anger.

New Zealanders and Māori chimed into the conversation in rage and even national and regional radio stations have pulled R Kelly’s music from the airways.  The question that I ask is, do we hold the people who represent our marae and speak on our behalf to the same standard?

We know that there have been many instances where the safety of children has been compromised and the well-being of the collective has been put at risk and in some cases they are swept under the carpet or left to be a conversation in the back kāuta while the accused uncle (or aunty) continues to speak on behalf of the marae. 

When will those instances be enough to mute the taumata and what’s the difference between a musical icon using children as sex slaves and an uncle or aunty abusing a child, taking away their innocence and the feeling of home that a whānau/marae should provide?

If I was to really think about it, maybe we are scared of the effects, maybe we don’t want to disturb the flow of marae hierarchies, maybe we just don’t have the balls to accept that one of our own would be capable of doing such awful things?  No matter what the reasoning may be is it acceptable to remain silent even though we know full well that the cycle may be repeated?

Do we turn a blind eye to what we believe is true and let it happen again or do we #MuteTheTaumata the same way as we #MuteRKelly?

Where to find help

• If it's an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.​

• If you've ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone call the Safe to Talk confidential crisis helpline on: ll 0800 044 334 or text 4334.