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’.
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?
- 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!