By Nehru Odeh
She has been vilified for her kind of art. She has also been excoriated for being female. And the worst of it all, she has been sexually abused and raped serially not just by friends and those whom she trusted but also by family members.
This is the intriguing yet inspiring story of Ruth Bircham, Jamaican-born British erotic artist who has not only wowed many across the globe, male and females alike, with her sensuous erotic paintings that seem to bop out of canvases and beckon but has also passed through the proverbial eye of the needle.
Bircham’s battles are legion. Her battles started due to no fault of hers from birth. She was born still birth with a hole in her stomach, she was also born with spinal stenosis which left her with a left leg discrepancy and had umbilical cord hernia. And, to cap it all, she was operated on at 11.
Still, Bircham started fighting other wars this time more traumatizing, on the sexual front at the age of five, when she was serially abused sexually by her step father, a white who was married to her mother.
In a chat with TheNEWS, Bircham said that sexual assault at 10 not only triggered a series of rapes she experienced 36 times till 2017 when she was raped by a Nigerian, Olufemi Ali, with whom she had been friends on Facebook for five years, but also why she started painting nudes, as a form of catharsis, a healing process. Reliving some of her experiences she said she was also raped and brutalized when she was pregnant by her child’s father, a Nigerian.
“I paint to try to understand why black men are so violent towards black women. Why they rape. Why coloured men rape children as I was raped at 10 by my mother’s white husband she had married when I was five. And he began the sexual assault on my five year old child-body and broke my virginity at a tender age of 10 in a satanic ritual of black candles lit on a altar covered in a dark purple cloth with red tassel trim.
“He climbed on my child-body and sodomised me for a length of time and in that process broke my virginity in the same way. This went on every night until I was 13. And no police officer, school teacher or adult made any effort to stop it.
The Jamaican-born British erotic artist is pained by the sombre fact that she never got justice in the United Kingdom even when it was glaring that she was continuously being raped. When she was sexually assaulted by a Facebook friend, Olufemi Ali on 24 June, barely two weeks after she had an accident which made her to be on crutches, the London Metropolitan Police never charged the case to court and allowed the rapist to go scot free.
She told TheNEWS that the police gave all sorts of flimsy reasons why they didn’t take the case up. They berated her for contacting the rapist via WhatsAPP after he had raped her. They also said she was raped because she was an erotic artist.
“The Councillor asked me why I contacted the rapist after he had committed the crime. I told her the rapist was my social media friend before he raped me. I was terribly shaken by his evil action and wanted to know why he did what he did to me.
“It is shocking to be raped by someone you least expected to harm you, that was why I called to ask why he took advantage of my ill health to rape me. Rape does not come with a manual to say this is what they will do and what they will not do to you, when the culprits come to you in any form as friends or complete strangers. And the Councilor agreed with my reasoning,” Bircham once said in an interview.
However, Bircham is in a quandary why the British police victimize rape victims they are supposed to protect and make sure they get justice. She also wonders why they treat rape victims like criminals why regard rapist as saints. According to her the police treated her case with levity because she was black and they had been compromised.
“The police are supposed to protect children and victims of rape.. Are they not? But as usual they never stopped my child-body being raped and they sided with the rapists when I was 15 years old and again in June, 2017. This is the justice system in the UK. This is how they are. If you are black and a victim. They don’t do anything to stop the crime,” she told TheNEWS.
“I am not a solicitor. I am an artist who has been raped and treated unfairly by the police and the UK justice system. My main focus is my art, family, friends and fans and nothing else. I don’t give a s..t about the UK and their lies, perjury and racist f..king laws that incriminate or victimize black people that are victims of crimes.
All I know is that in between what I am doing with my art, I am letting the world know that what the UK police did to to me was wrong, for not charging the rapist to court after he had confessed to the crime. It shows that the police compromised.
Asked what drew her to erotic art. Bircham said: I thought that if men and women saw how beautiful the naked body is when painted realistically it would not be deemed taboo.
Edited to more accurately reflect the views of Bircham on 28, January, 2021.