Debunked: These Ivorian women weren't publicly humiliated for breaking a coronavirus curfew

Screengrab of the video posted by  the “Honourable Arlette and Anna”.
Screengrab of the video posted by the “Honourable Arlette and Anna”.

Lots of West Africans have been sharing a video showing two young women being humiliated and, at one point, forced to dance because they apparently didn’t respect a curfew meant to limit the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in the Ivory Coast. Turns out, however, that this video shows nothing of the sort… It was actually staged by a clothing company in a weird bid for publicity.

Ever since March 21, when several countries in West Africa enacted a curfew to limit the spread of coronavirus, videos have been popping up online showing police officers harassing and in some cases beating those who break it. Videos have poured in from Burkina Faso, Senegal and the Ivory Coast, where police leadership admitted that “security forces had committed acts of violence on civilians.”

One video in particular has garnered more than 300,000 views since it was posted on March 28. The footage shows two women being stopped after dark, presumably by the police. They explain that they were just going to the pharmacy and then drop to their knees, crying, to beg forgiveness. Then, they acquiesce to the humiliating demands made by the man filming the video, who tells them to dance, for example. Most of the captions accompanying this video claim that the two women broke the “COVID-19 curfew” in Abidjan.

A staged arrest

However, it turns out that this entire scene was staged. The two women who feature in the video are actresses and comedians who call themselves “The Honourable Arlette and Anna.” They both posted this video on their personal Facebook accounts with a caption that could have easily added to the confusion: “Respect the curfew and stay at home. These women tried and [the police] didn’t miss them” [sic].

The duo’s Facebook page, which was created shortly after the video started circulating, also features another video of the two young women wearing the same red and green T-shirts.

The T-shirts are emblazoned with the logo for the Ivorian brand “Eternel Sensation”. Our team reached out to the creator of this clothing line who claimed that he was also the “manager” of the “Honourable Arlette and Anna.” He said that the scene had been staged and that it was basically filmed “to get publicity.”

The FRANCE 24 Observers team also spoke to one of the two women, who said that her video was more than just a bid for publicity. She said that it was meant to “raise awareness” and to get people to respect the curfew.

Article by Pierre Hamdi (@PierreHamdi).