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Rapists must receive same punishment

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There has been so much excitement and expressions of anger following the arrest of the three alleged women “rapists” who lured men into intimacy, and then collected the semen-filled condoms which are believed to be selling like hot cakes in certain quarters of Zimbabwe.

Social commentators have suggested that traditional healers may have instructed the women to collect semen for use in ritual charms.

Two weeks ago, Gweru Police Station was inundated with hordes of men demanding to have the women either hanged or sentenced to life imprisonment.

I was particularly intrigued by some of the comments on the Internet which demonstrated how men’s ego had been hurt by this development.

“A life sentence would do for these culprits; if a light sentence is to be preferred they will do it again since they’re making a living out of the sinful acts,” read: one comment. Another one said “Crucify them. You have to teach others what goes with crime.

Men can be shy to come forward to report because of ego, but the truth is they are rapists”. But how can a woman rape a man?

Legally, a woman cannot rape a woman. Social workers also note that women cannot rape women because rape is defined as sexual assault by man on a woman. This is why the women have been charged with “aggravated sexual assault”.

Word doing the rounds is that these men were probably given some aphrodisiac that aroused them resulting in the sexual intimacy.

I am, however, surprised that the male species has spoken so harshly against these women and yet they have never done the same when women have been sexually abused.

A child in nappies was raped a few years ago and reaction from the male quarters dismissed that as a story that had been cooked up.

Netty Musanhu, director of Musasa, a local organisation that deals with domestic violence against women, commented on Facebook saying: “Makes you wonder why there has not been equal attention to the multitudes of women and girls who are raped every day.

Besides how do they know that the semen was collected under duress or it was a purely intimate affair and then instead of throwing the condoms away, they kept them?

Is it criminal to be found in possession of semen-filled condoms? Women and girls are raped every single day in Zimbabwe and although non-governmental organisations that represent women’s concerns have not made any official comment about the matter, rape is a serious violation of an individual’s rights.

Why have these organisations been so quiet? A picture of one of the accused was recently splashed in some daily newspapers and also on the Internet.

Another picture was published showing the three women walking into a courtroom.

Why haven’t we had pictures of men who have raped little girls exposed in the same manner? The law clearly stipulates that a person is not guilty until that individual has appeared before a court of law.

But what has happened is that these women have already been exposed in the media and social networks as rapists. They have already been condemned.

Definitions of rape may vary from one country to the next. Rape is forced, unwanted sexual intercourse. However rape, sometimes also called sexual assault, can happen to both men and women of any age.

This includes penetration by foreign objects or other body parts. Rape is also generally silent on anal and oral penetration. In Zimbabwe, there is silence on men as rape survivors.

Some rapists use drugs to diminish a person’s ability to fight back. Rape is a crime, whether the person committing it is a stranger, a date, an acquaintance, or a family member. One posting from Stoko Nonzi had this to say: “Had an encounter with these rapists. I met these three at Munyati power station and they bought me few beers. I hope they rot in prison
. . .”

But why did he not make a report with the police if he feels so aggrieved by this incident? Are men so embarrassed to report abuse by the opposite sex that they decide to suffer in silence?

A human rights activist, Irvin Kudzanayi Chinyenze, says if women can rise to political office, business, church etc then why is it difficult to comprehend that men can be raped?

“It is really sad in this day and age when society has begun to recognise women as equals, more importantly in terms of being accorded the same opportunities as their male counterparts, the alleged female rapists have chosen to be at par with men, but in a preposterous way.

“Sexual abuse has no place in our society regardless of who the perpetrator is. It’s surprising that some activists have chosen to label the alleged female rapists as victims instead of being objective.

“Is it not a fact that there were men who were forced to have sex against their will? What do we call that? Does one have to have their panties ripped off and struggle for it to be called rape?

“Society should stop stigmatising male rape. The alleged offenders should be tried and if found guilty should serve their time.

This case may actually be a blessing in disguise with respect to bringing awareness and acceptance of the existence of men being raped.” It is rape when you don’t wish to have sex, says another reader. “Further, if it is done against your will it is either passively violent or aggressively violent. Either way, men and women can be, and are, raped.

“The Bible example is Joseph’s near rape by Potiphar’s wife. Modern examples include teacher-student rape, incest, sexual predators, or any number of examples of older men abused sexually under the influence of a drug or alcohol.”

It would be interesting to find out how many men will come forward for the hearings. I am sure that investigations will include linking the semen discovered in the condoms to the men who were allegedly raped.

Feedback:rmapimhidze@newsday.co.zw

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