I learnt with great shock last week that there are proper ways to get raped. You see, a female leader in Zimbabwe by the name of Sarah Mahoka, Zanu PF Hurungwe East Member of Parliament was quoted on one of the commercial radio stations, Star FM saying women should get raped ‘nicely’.

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Sarah Mahoka-image (www.herald.co.zw)

This is part of what she said in Shona: ‘… Zvino isu tinemakumbo matsvuku, mini iya inobva yafita ka. Saka ana baba vodi, vobva varaper ka. Saka tanga wazvichengetedzawo kuti ugo rapwer zvakanaka. Ungaende kumapurisa wakapfeka blouse uchiti ndarapwer? Haunyare? Ko rapwer ka wakapfeka refu. Ko wadirei kurapwer wakapfeka blouse? Iko kuridhonza, kudhonza rozorebera pano?

Loosely translated, ‘…Now some of us have light legs, the mini skirt suits perfectly. And then what do the men do, they rape us. First take care of yourself (moral innuendo) so that you are raped nicely. How can you go to report rape to the police in a blouse? Are you not ashamed of yourself? Why do you not get raped in your long skirt? Why do you want to get raped in a blouse? You think pulling it here will make it longer?’

Honourable Mahoka’s comments are disturbing in a world where we are supposed to be making a collective effort to fight against sexual violence. When I heard this initially I could not believe that a representative of the community had the audacity to utter such not only cruel but destructive words. Mahoka’s statements make disturbingly dangerous assumptions about rape that no one should take heed of.

  • Women are raped because of wearing miniskirts.

Let us think of young children, toddlers and old women who are raped daily and relate them to Mahoka’s comments on skin colour and dress length. Surely what should mothers to young babies do, worry about the diapers that will make their daughters candidates for rape. I cannot even begin to talk about our grandmothers who have fallen victim to rape. In August 2014, the Sunday Mail published police statistics released by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development. These showed that at least eight children under the age of fifteen years old in Zimbabwe are raped on a daily basis. 62% of perpetrators of these acts were identified as fathers, grandfathers and neighbours. Now try to factor mini-skirts in this equation and ask yourself if there is any rationale in those statements. Eye-roll. Would she utter such statements if rape happened to someone dear to her?

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Women in mini-skirts (Image:www.monitor.co.ug)

 

  • Being raped is a choice

You see, Hon Mahoka’s comments insinuate that a woman wakes up and decides whether she feels like getting raped today. She forgets that rape is a traumatic experience that has the potential to break-down an individual. I wonder if she has taken time to talk to rape victims and out of those stories came up with the conclusion that light legs and mini-skirts are at the bottom of the equation. She literally gives men permission to rape women in mini-skirts. She differentiates sexual violence of women to that which is deserved and another which is not deserved-the ‘nice’ rape in long skirts. Sigh

  • Men are rapists

Hon Mahoka literally calls all men rapists. Not a certain type of unschooled, uncontrollable and heartless men but all. You see, she literally says, a man will see you in a mini-skirt next he will rape you. She forgets that the problem is this man who has an inability to control his sexual urges. This type of men who does not value the core of the meaning of a sexual relationship between a man and a woman. That it has to be consensual and enjoyed. Not the perverted way of thinking that one is asking for it when dressed in a particular manner. Mind you some men will see you in a mini-skirt and your light legs and find it attractive enough to ask you out on a date. Some will find it unattractive enough to ignore you. Some will look at you and think you need Jesus. Some perverts will whistle at you and tear your clothes off. The other perverts will ambush you and quench their sexual desires.

Mahoka forgets that some men have been victims of rape in Zimbabwe. Young boys have also been victims of rape in Zimbabwe. So where do light legs and mini-skirts fit in. One wonders. What we should continue pushing for are stiffer penalties for sexual violence perpetrators- we should not be at any point be heard justifying violence of such a nature. We should think of the future we want in Zimbabwe, one where we can respect each other, our choices and bodies.

Rape is unacceptable-no matter the ‘supposed’ circumstances leading to it. Hon Mahoka should know better. The women and men from Hurungwe East, from Zimbabwe, need her protection against sexual violators!

Just in a few words!

 

By Vimbai Chinembiri

This article was originally published on www.herzimbabwe.com

Sandra Moyo’s* four children died soon after birth. After the death of her fourth child, Moyo decided this terrible misfortune had to have some explanation outside of modern medicine. So she went to see a prophet and was told she had sare, a growth often near the mouth or inside the vagina that is believed to have the power to bring unfathomable misfortune into a woman’s life.

Sandra believes her fortune changed after a prophet cut out the sare and prayed for her. Today she is the proud mother of two healthy babies. Several Zimbabwean women have similar stories to Sandra’s. They have been rejected by loved ones, miscarried, failed to conceive, been labeled witches or simply neglected. Many believe that an evil and merciless growth called sare is responsible for this.

Sare is a phenomenon associated with Zimbabwean traditional culture. It is believed that the growth can be located at the mouth of the vagina, slightly inside or just between the vaginal entrance and anus and is said to itch terribly.

Sare, apart from being responsible for child mortality and miscarriages, is also believed to be a major cause of divorce. A woman who has sare may find herself unlucky in love and rejected by her husband or boyfriend.

It is also commonly believed to be the reason why a woman might have a bad temperament towards her spouse. It is believed also to be responsible for decreasing libido or making it overtly high. Not surprisingly, it is also causes people around a woman to label her a witch.

It is a bit difficult to dismiss a phenomenon which most Zimbabwean women across class and occupation vouch for. However, it is tempting to question the basis of the belief of sare and ask whether it’s not one of the many gendered myths which blame women for misfortune or what is deemed ‘bad behaviour’.

Infertility and Child mortality

In 2014, the Zimbabwean Mail reported that 30% of child mortality deaths involved new born babies who were succumbing to common and preventable diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria and nutritional deficiencies.

With these figures and explanations, what are the odds that a growth on a woman’s vagina is responsible for a child’s illness and subsequent death? Is this not our society’s way of attempting to find solutions through blame- object creation? As is often the case, it is the woman with the problem.

Spousal Rejection

Zimbabwe’s economy has made it next to impossible for most couples to stay together with financial stress leading to spousal separation being the order of the day. But quite apart from this, nowadays women have become increasingly empowered and would never dream of staying in a relationship that didn’t bring them outright happiness.

Could misogyny from a male partner also be a sufficient explanation for a breakdown in communication, the end of love and domestic abuse?

Why is sare presumed to exist on a woman alone? What is the source of the manifestations of similar problems on a man? Is the finance-related rejection theory only a ploy to keep women financially dependent on men? If a man is simply withholding money and making the relationship difficult, are then a woman’s genitals to blame?

A Zimbabwean woman living in South Africa confided in me that she had been told she had sare and had booked with a ‘prophet’ for an ‘operation’ in a week’s time. She explained that she had been rejected in several long­standing relationships and most of her businesses had collapsed. For her, this sare removal was the answer to all her problems. It had worked for other women, she said.

That said, in 2011 a Gweru man accused male church membersof mutilating his wife’s genitals after she had an operation to remove sare. While some people dismissed his claims, this story brings to the fore the undeniable danger kuchekwa sare poses to a woman’s health.

Are the prophets and n’anga’s who conduct these procedures medically qualified to remove something from a woman’s inner or outer genitals? Post-operation care of kuchekwa sare includes being advised to wrap nyeve (a leafy green vegetable with medicinal properties) in a cloth and wear it like a sanitary pad until it heals. Huh??!

Theories about how you pay for the treatment for sare differ. Some women claim if you pay for the service, chances are that it will re-appear. Others argue that if you do not pay, that is when the sare will reappear. In Zimbabwe, prophets are said to be charging an average of $6 for an operation to remove sare. With an already difficult economy, are women not just subjecting themselves to torture as well as giving away their hard- earned cash?

What the Doctor Says

Dr Chiwora, a specialist obstetrician and gynecologist based in Bulawayo said sare is a myth.

“In reality it does not happen. I know what a woman’s anatomy looks like. When a woman has various growths or bumps in the perineum, front of the womb or anal area, they may consider it to be sare.”

Dr Chiwora said he had attended to patients who believed they had sare. He also said women identified different normal and abnormal growths as sare. “There are many things women perceive to be sare. These include remains of the hymen after one is no longer a virgin; one sided elongated labia or vaginal lips and rugae-ripples or ridges in the vaginal lining which is a normal type of growth”.

He also said there were some pathological or abnormal growths that women consider to be sare. Among these are pimples in the vagina, scar tissue after child birth, varicose veins, polyps, piles, anal tags and even genital warts.

Dr Chiwora said doctors treated most of these abnormal growths but rarely cut them.

“Polyps which most women perceive to be the English word for sare can grow anywhere: on the face, hands, just anywhere on a human being.”

He also said some people had bled to death after prophets and n’anga’s had cut off their varicose veins and piles, which were perceive to be sare. “Myths are exactly what they are, untrue and completely dangerous. Children are dying soon after birth due to lack of nutrition and various infections, among other things. We do not want to strengthen myths. People should opt for scientifically proven treatment only,” he added.

So What Does this Mean?

Women should know that not everything that goes wrong in their personal life is their fault. We should reject the narratives that give us unnatural powers that seek to humiliate us. Children die sometimes and we miscarry sometimes. We can be rejected at times, the way we have the ability to reject too. Let us be cognizant of those factors before we let strangers whose credentials we do not know, play scrabble with our most valued assets.

* Not her real name

The year was 2004. The year I wore my first pair of spectacles. My father was thoughtful enough to get a green frame that matched with my high school uniform (or so I thought at that point), I think he could have chosen a better one today-but hey growing up changes a lot of things.

Ok, this is how it started. In primary school the top 10 always sat in ‘Group 1’, close to the teacher. And because I was a teacher’s pet I sat closer to the teacher-meaning closer to the chalk-board. Group ones were selected on the basis of performance in Mathematics. One unfortunate day in Grade seven, I did not make it to the top ten in a Mathematics test and had to move to Group two. Of course I was devastated, it was humiliating too-it didn’t last for long though.

As I took my seat at the front of Group two and quickly assumed group leader duties I realised I could not see on the board. Everything was blurry-words were swimming in water. My first attempts to explain this were dismissed as the teacher thought I could not deal with the humiliation. Later, I just didn’t concentrate and simply wanted to cry- I thought I was becoming blind. By day end I was back on my usual seat-unfortunately for someone who had to be removed after assessing an English test.

Fast forward secondary (boarding) school I realised I had a sight problem. So I went back home got my eyes tested and prescribed spectacles. They would be ready in two weeks, close to visiting day so the arrangement was my dad would bring them-I do not remember choosing a frame.

Apart from the green frame, the spectacles had the support of a string, ‘Ndokuti asadonhe pamunomhanya mwanangu,’ daddy said. It made sense. As we walked around the school I realised, the grunts from fellow pupils were imitating Steve-you know Steve from Family Matters, with large, thick eyeglassesflood pants held up by suspenders and of course with the specs had a leash, strap-whatever you prefer to call them. It was devastating, being teased like that.

Well, as soon as I waved him goodbye, my roommates and I carefully removed the string on those spectacles-to remove my shame.

By Shamiso Phoebie Chigonde: Guest Blogger

As the world marks International Women’s Day, I pause to reflect at the daily life of an ordinary black woman in struggling Africa. A mother, sister, aunt, granny, niece, girlfriend, neighbour, church leader whose grind is a story of toil and sweat.
I see a mother of six. She delivered four of her offspring through caesarean birth. What an experience. Painful experience. All those scars – scars of love. She toils to raise her brood. She takes menial jobs so she can put food on the table. She works to complement her husband’s meagre earnings.
On some cold nights she groans in pain because of aching C-Section stitches. A reminder of her children. They’re scattered all over the country now. She sheds a tear for every one of them. She mumbles a prayer. She smiles and looks into the rain. She wishes it can rain on her but she has her grandson strapped on her back – little child will catch a cold.
I see another mother. This one much younger. She must be 17 years old. She has two children born in her puberty.

Still confused about changes in her body, while still discovering herself she was married off. Married off because culture demands so. Married off because tradition requires she marries her father’s friend.
Hers is a story of many a girl raised in rural Africa. The hashtag has been created. #ChildMarriage She doesn’t know what a hashtag is. Many wonder if a hashtag will end child marriages. In the meantime she continues her life as a wife to the village head. She is the youngest of the frail man’s eight wives. She is his darling of the moment. Her body still fresh, her breasts still firm. He enjoys.
Her life has ceased. She dropped out of school just a year before writing her Ordinary Level exams. She has no back up plan in her life. All her options in life have to include this man she married. She has no life. On this International Women’s Day she sits alone in the kitchen staring at a half empty glass of fruit juice. She ponders. She fantasizes about what could have been if she had finished school.
Here is Veronica. She is a 30 year old emancipated varsity graduate. She recently graduated with a Masters Degree on a scholarship from a varsity in Europe. She is back in Zimbabwe and every morning she enjoys the view from her corner office at the Think Tank she works for. She earns well. She is every mother’s dream daughter; intelligent and beautiful.
You see, she was born and raised in rural Zimbabwe. Went to the big city for college years. She understands the concept of International Women’s Day. Her village folk doesn’t know what this is all about. Talk of women rights issues and you get the scolding of your life. Here women should subservient to their husbands. A woman lives her life for the man. Veronica now has to be married. Society demands she gets married.
Now look at Aunt Agnes. She does not have a 9 to 5 job. She sells her hand clothes in central Harare. She buys them in Mozambique and smuggles them into the country. Last year Zimbabwe banned the selling of second hand clothes. Government argued it was shameful for people to buying second underwear, socks and shoes.
But majority of Zimbabweans have no jobs. They cannot afford buying from conventional shops. Informal employment is the source of livelihood many families here.
Aunt Agnes is one of the vendors whose wares were confiscated by the state when police chased vendors off the streets. She has a family to take care of. An extended family to take care of. She could not sit and watch her nieces and nephews starve. She has to send children to school. What could she do? What would you have done?
Aunt Agnes took a loan from a city loan shark. She crossed into Mozambique and brought back with her second hand clothes for resale. She sells clothes from as little as US$1. Prices improve as quality improves.
Agnes risks arrest but she has to put food on the table.
Hendriatta met a strapping young man who dovetailed into her perfect picture of “Mr Right”. He was a beautiful man. A humorous, intelligent guy with a good job. The future looked bright. As they say, the rest is history.
He left her at the alter. Never heard of run-away groom? Hendriatta bore the shame and pain. She became the talk of town. Plumtree is a small town. Everyone stared at her wherever she was. She was pregnant with no man – that’s taboo here. Mr Right was married but Hendriatta didn’t know. He didn’t tell her. Had she known, she wasn’t going to invest her time and her all in him. He used her. Her deflowered and devalued her.
Single mothers are regarded as home wreckers.

Hendriatta carries the tag of homewrecker. Wives dare their husbands to associate with Hendriatta. She is a victim of her foolishness they say. But she is a victim of a system that vilifies women.
Being a single mother is difficult. Hendriatta’s daughter is called names. She suffers for sins she didn’t commit. An innocent child brought up in an indifferent society. But Hendriatta has a thick skin. Her totem is crocodile which maybe explains her thick skin attitude. The insults have died down as years overtake each other. Those that gloated at her misfortune have egg on their faces.
There are women who were raised in poverty, some in the rural areas. Some failed school because they did not have the resources to use, they went to the city to look for low income jobs and then studied during the night, now they are managers, nurses, accountants, you name it. All because they did not give up and they decided who they wanted to be a long time ago, when they were still carrying buckets of water from the stream.There are some who have worked as maids, cooks, and did not for once think of taking their madam’s husbands. Some raised money and now they have their own businesses. They take care of their families and though they did not go to school they still succeeded.This International Women’s Day we celebrate this woman who came from nowhere to succeed in life. Today we celebrate that woman who against all odds toils and keeps her head above the water.

I got married, before 25-but…

Posted: February 5, 2016 in opinion
Tags: , , ,

A while ago  I wrote a blog post, in response to someone who had given reasons why men should not marry women above the age of 25. This is how I introduced that article:

‘I am not yet 25. I will be 25 soon. I don’t foresee marriage on the table by the time I’m 25. I’m not a seer, I just prefer to get married later than 25, if I get married before 25 it will be a good thing. If I get married after 25 or way after 25 it should still be a good thing.’

He in simple terms degraded and ‘inhumanized’ unmarried women above 25. They were described as used and loads of other despicable thing. I did say I didn’t think I’d be married by 25 because certainly at that time there was no sign of such a thing happening.

I met a wonderful man and we got married shortly after.

Now, my friends have been on my neck saying my post inspired them to stay single yet I was planning to get married. Well the truth of the matter is nothing in my thinking has changed ever since I wrote that article.

  1. Marriage is a beautiful thing (that’s my sincere belief). It has to be entered in with someone you love and who equally loves you.
  2. Marriage before or after 25, 30, 35 is still marriage. What matters is being ready with the perfect person for you.
  3. Marriage of a young girl or boy before they have an idea of where their life is taking them, before they have assurance of understanding their dreams and aspirations, before they understand their bodies and before they have an education is unacceptable-for me at least.
  4. No human being is considered expired, expiry is at death. So no woman should accept being told that because they are over 25 their value has diminished.
  5. If after 25, you have ‘sagging breasts’ etc, they are still breasts and will be new to the eye of another. After all, other young girls below the age of 25 already have ‘sagging breasts’. Aren’t there different types after all.
  6. It is a lie that it’s only women who should ‘keep’ themselves ‘pure’ and ‘fresh’ for their husbands. I find men who brag about the number of women they have slept with contemptible. I equally find contemptible women who are impressed by such a trait in men.
  7.  Having someone to share your life with, dreams, aspirations, laugh with and love can never be underestimated. It’s a beautiful thing and certainly a blessing. When the time is right, have it, you will feel it and there won’t be questions about it.

Just in a few words

I was nominated for the Liebster Award by Zvishuwo on her blog, As I read on her blog, the Liebster Award is an award to bloggers from bloggers, a way of welcoming new bloggers to the club. Thank you for the nomination, to say am excited is an understatement.
As stated by Zvishuwo, these are the rules:

Link back to the person who nominated you

Zvishuwo has an awesome blog and do make sure to click on the link and indulge yourself.

List 11 random facts about yourself

1) I am a devoted Christian and I consider that to contribute to the inner peace and joy I have.

2) I hate weaves.

3) I absolutely love travelling, however getting to the destination is not always fun for me.

4) I suspect I suffer from pathological computer use.

5) I used to be a ‘number cruncher’ at school.

6) I hate all healthy foods (sigh), liver, fish, runi, boora, derere

7) I love love dancing, grew up listening to congolese music

8) I love buying heels that I never really wear.

9) My right pinky can’t be put together with the rest of my fingers-It hurts

10) I’m a radio presenter

11) I’m married

Answer the questions given you by the nominator

  1. Instagram or snapchat? Why

None of the above really, Instagram-slightly.

2.    What book/ movie/ song changed your life?

Book, should have been Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga. It made me relevant by knowing girls like me could be subject for story telling.

3. If you got an all-expenses paid vacation to go anywhere in the world, what would be your destination?

Cant decide between Bangkok and Italy.

What would you tell your 16 year old self?

Allow yourself to be a child.

4. Why did you start blogging?

I blogged in two phases. My first blog which was on blogger just wanted to write and have people read. When I lost internet connection for a while it became defunct. This one-attended a blogging training and social media course as part of my degree and it was a requirement kkkk.

5. Current favourite song?

Mukoko by Amara Brown and Tytan

6. Last book you read?

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

7. What were you doing when you got into 2016?

Dancing at a crossover event organised by the station I work for

8. Favourite food?

Sadza and beef/vegetable stew. I absolutely love anything with potatoes too.

9. There’s a fire. What three items would you save?

My laptop, spectacles (assuming the fire starts at night while am not wearing them) and definitely my books.

10. What animal best describes you? Why?

Well I had to take an online quiz to get an answer for this one.

Ocre and Gray Dolphin (that’s what it says)
 Sea! You’re a very hearty person being a good friend. You attract many friends because of your lovely personality, but you’re sometimes pretty weird. Your soul mate is the Bronze Goat. You hate the Peach Pig.

 

Nominations coming up

 

I am writing, shaky hands-shaky hands because of joy. The constitutional court today delivered its long-awaited ruling on child marriage with the application to outlaw child marriage succeeding. Section 22 subsection one the Marriage Act [Chapter 5:11] was rendered unconstitutional. The con-court ruled that no male or female person in Zimbabwe may enter into any marriage, including an unregistered customary law union or any other union, including one arising out of religion or a religious rite, before attaining the age of eighteen.

The ruling follows an application in 2014 by two victims of child marriage, Loveness Mudzuru and Ruvimbo Tsopodzi who took the government to court arguing that the customary marriage act is unconstitutional. The two were represented by Tendai Biti. Meanwhile children’s organisations and civil society have taken to social media to celebrate this milestone.

This is why we went to Zambia for the African Union Summit on Ending Child Marriages in Africa. Ranting and hoping for reforms that would do away with the abduction and sexual abuse of young girls. Attempting to challenge laws that discriminate on the rights of children. This is why we have launched social media campaigns and attempted to talk to our elders and parents about the several demerits of marrying off young girls. This is why we have braved going to Chiefs and different villages in Zimbabwe to ask them to shun what they call culture and instead call it abuse.

What therefore this SHOULD mean for Zimbabwe is that the prevalence rate of child marriages should be at ZERO. What it means is that no parent or guardian should allow their child to get married under whatever circumstances. This means that Zimbabwe should follow up on it’s mandate to keep girls in schools and not in the bedroom.

This therefore means that we should be able to realise that marriage does not reduce poverty but actually increases it. Zimbabwe will soon realise the gains from keeping girls in schools by seeing an improved economy championed by learned women. Zimbabwe should begin to see no mothers of three below the age of 18. No young girls read women infected by HIV due to marriage to old men. No young girls with scarred wombs, scarred by overuse.

For me this means every girl today under the age of 18 should not be looked at as a potential candidate for marriage. Any girl below the age of 18 should not be dreamt of by any church elder as their God given wife. We want girls in school, creating dreams for better, developed societies and not nursing babies or struggling with marital woes.

This is a historical day in Zimbabwe and all men and women should celebrate it. The law now protects our children, sisters, nieces etc. Most importantly the buck does not stop there. Young women have to be motivated and mentored to understand that this law is for them and they should not champion it’s violation. Young girls should get the support they need so they protect future generations from abuse.

I am a bit calm now, in a serene atmosphere of joy.