Tag Archive | abuse

Of today’s “fast” young girls: #BIAAGZIM

I come from a society that believes in punishment rather than rehabilitation, a society that believes in reactionary methods of dealing with challenges rather than trying to prevent them, a society that is more in denial than accepts reality, and in so doing, would learn how to deal with them. And that is just the shame of it. Child marriage is sadly a scourge and the fight to end it has got to be very deep and, like a boil, it must be painfully ‘squeezed out from the root’. In a society where women are commodities to be owned, girls tend to be the ‘highest prized” of these commodities meant to help “turn around” the economic woes of families. Families sell their girl children, be it to be (cheap) labour or into marriage- to men who violate these young innocents’ childhood.  The Customary Marriages Act which looks at all customary marriages in the country does not even have an age limit as to what age people can get married, so a lot of young girls are married off under “customary marriages” and the law cannot do anything to punish those who abuse young girls in such scenarios.

It is fair and fine to look at marriage within the customary settings but I want to particularly look at child marriages in the modern set up where school going girls are impregnated by one person or the other and are forced out of school and sent packing into marriages they did not want or even think about. Child marriage, also known as early marriage, can be defined as “Any marriage carried out below the age of 18 years, before the girl is physically, physiologically, and psychologically ready to shoulder the responsibilities of marriage and childbearing.” I have followed a lot of debates on how “fast” or kuda zvinhu our young girls have become. I get it that we are a prude and uptight society that frowns upon sexual intercourse by women. I get it BUT…how then do we help these young in-school girls, at the peak of raging hormones and are that age where experimenting and exploration is rivalled by that of babies? Young people are having sex and my society had better accept this fact and deal with it. I am one of those who applauds the minister who wants condoms in schools as well as applaud those teens at the recent nude party who were  found in possession of condoms. That means that these kids are better prepared to engage in safer sex than be at the risk of such dangers as teenage pregnancy, which I view to be one of the number one reasons for child marriage.

I want to pose a series of questions:

If a baby loves the flickering of flames, do we leave that baby to play with it or we remove it from harm’s way? Do we punish a baby for their being attracted to flames? How come we child-proof homes why can we not ‘adult-proof’ our teens? Sex and pregnancy is meant for adults yet we do not talk to our teens about it but somehow expect them to just not indulge. We have a society that believes that whole grown men, heads of homes and even leaders in various circles, are incapable of controlling their sexual urges, how then do we expect these young people to be able to do what adults fail and are expected to fail to do? And when these kids fail and fall pregnant we punish them by sending them into an institution that accounts for more abuses of women than any. We send them to start a rite of passage that only a mature, informed and consenting adult should be willingly entering. I am particularly looking at those child marriages which take place because a school going girl has come home late or she has fallen pregnant and must “go kwaakapihwa nhumbu yake” (she must go to whoever made her pregnant)

People can get emotional all they want but a child who, despite acting all grown up and doing grown up business, has no business being thrust into a space that she is most likely to be abused repeatedly. This young girl-woman needs to be in school where an education can help her secure a better future for her. She needs the support of her family during this bewildering period in her life and not left in the hands of a man who most probably does not want anything to do with her or the baby she is now carrying. Sending her into marriage at such an early age and given the likely scenario she will face, IS punishing her, and punishing her terribly, if I may be so candid. Marriage should be a joy and not something that is founded on “mistakes”, fear and constant reminders that one is being punished and is unwanted.

Given that sex has taken place between a child-woman and (usually) an adult, why does my society see it fit that a few dollars, cows and some clothes and groceries are given in exchange for the entire future of this child? How much is a woman’s future worth anyway? Seems it carries a small price tag whichever way we look at it. Let us all remember that before we condemn this “wayward” child, for she still is a child, she is at the mercy of her hormones and we need to guide her through this difficult time of her life. I would dare challenge parents to take up the parenting mantle and equip their young girls with all the information they would need to get through this period in a manner that will allow them to avoid the pitfalls of teenage pregnancy and teenage sex. Marrying her off is not a solution and should not even be contemplated. Let us talk WITH our children about sexual intercourse so that they are better informed and ready to face or avoid it.

#BIAAGZIM

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The more I read the Esther and Queen Vashti story, the more I am appalled by what the church says with regards to submission as they quote Esther. My heart burns within me and I want to scream myself hoarse underwater or something!

screaming under water

So, the summary is this:
Queen Vashti is summoned by her drunk husband, the king, to parade her beauty before his drunken fellas. All leaders of his 127 provinces. These guys have been drinking for 7 days straight so u can imagine what state they are in. She refuses! Kudos to you QV! A drunken advisor tells king that this is nasty and advises him to get rid of her and the drunk king agrees so QV is disposed of. She disappears from the Biblical scene except for the time when the king remembers her with regret. Oh well. She was better off without him, says I. (if anyone has info on what happened to her apart from the Jewish versions that I am reading, I would love to get my hands on it. Thank you)

The beautiflu Vashti was a wonder to behold  image taken from (www.itisbygrace2.com)

The beautiflu Vashti was a wonder to behold
image taken from (www.itisbygrace2.com)

So, at the advise of these same “wisemen” they hold a beauty contest to find a replacement! Wow! It surely was not the Miss Zimbabwe (Lord, forbid it wasn’t as confused) nor was it like the Miss World one (no questions paused about passions etc or parading of stuff to the world either) This contest took months to plan and I understand that this king would “sample” whoever he thought was beautiful enough. (I am still researching more on this bit of info and I stand guided)

Please note: king had a harem (er, that is

pic of a geisha from pinterest

pic of a geisha from pinterest

women who were available for his sexual pleasure though they were not his wives…think of small houses, my Zimbabwean friends aka mistresses or concubines, or geishas something like that) So, he was looking for someone to be the queen.

Anyway, he is taken by Esther, as God intended, as the Bible and Jewish texts say. Now, here is where it gets interesting:
the church, some centuries beyond this era, take Esther to be this paragon of virtue and make out Vashti to be this witch and ungrateful, rude, headstrong woman. Oh well, it could have been worse for her, right? LOL

But, I want to submit some things:
1. Had Esther just walked in to the king’s chamber, she would have been KILLED!! yes, no one ever entered the king’s presence without being summoned in that time and place, not even his queen. Now, what kind of marriage is that? One where a wife has to try and grab her husband’s attention all the while fearing death. Why else did she have to call for God’s favour via the fast? This was no ordinary marriage and it would do well for the church to acknowledge this.

Esther lived a life away from her husband. She would wait to be summoned into his presence. What manner of life/ marriage is that? image from (www.stories-for-children.ca)

Esther lived a life away from her husband. She would wait to be summoned into his presence. What manner of life/ marriage is that?
image from (www.stories-for-children.ca)

2. Are we vilifying Queen Vashti for wanting her dignity more than anything else? How many women does the church crucify for merely dressing “scantily”? and somehow, it should have been “agreeable” for a WHOLE QUEEN to prance about a jury of drunken “lords” displaying her beauty NAKED except a crown on her head??? We have a huge moral tangle when men go to strip clubs. We label women who “display” themselves loose and wanton and immoral yet, in the same breath, we vilify a queen for not wanting to do the same thing?

And e get angry when we see semi-nude women yet somehow we expected it out of Queen Vashti? Is she not worthy of the same "dignity" we want for everyone else? (image from fineartamerica.com)

And e get angry when we see semi-nude women yet somehow we expected it out of Queen Vashti? Is she not worthy of the same “dignity” we want for everyone else?
(image from fineartamerica.com)

3. I am not too sure about this queen position that we all scream bloody murder about. Looking at this king Ahasuerus aka xerxes aka Achashveirosh, I do not see what there is in him to admire about being married to such a man! Really, I don’t.

The church has gone to celebrate Esther’s rise as if she was married to some great guy. What only made this guy “great” was his wealth, his empire and his title, in my view. Looking at him, he was a man of great temper. He was rash in making decisions. He made decisions under the influence of alcohol. He took advise from drunken men and implemented it! he seems to me like the good for nothing that we all hear the pastors preaching against at the pulpit. If we take away his title, his wealth (maybe we could leave him some) and his power and influence, no woman in her right mind would ever want to bring home such a man! Oops, I forget, she probably would, as she would be one up on a sister who is single, divorced or a single parent. “Better she is married than she be single” is what we have taught our girls. Shame!

after 180 days of a huge party and then 7 days of more partying, this king as a drunkard!  (www.quotehd.com)

after 180 days of a huge party and then 7 days of more partying, this king as a drunkard!
(www.quotehd.com)

4. The church uses Esther as an example of submission (the real reason that had me start this article, in the first place) as if Esther had a choice in the matter. She was married to a man as a REPLACEMENT to a woman who had probably been killed. So who would want to cross paths with such a man? I doubt she could even cough without first seeking permission from him! The church forgets that to see her own husband, she had to get the whole Jewish nation in Susa to fast with her! Surely, what kind of marriage is that? That was just something else BUT a marriage!! Who wants that??

5. Esther did not want to be married to this guy. She did not choose him but HE orchestrated events that would see her, a virgin among other virgins in the land, end up as his wife. at this point, I am sure that there would have been some virgins who ran off, anything but to be married to this horrible man. I do not see how they could have been happily taking part in this beauty contest that would result in them being married to such a man. Those who did not make it to be his wives, what became of them?

6. Esther had to HIDE her true identity from her husband!! What nonsense is this? This man was a piece of work, I tell you and I pity Esther more and applaud Vashti all the more for standing up to this man! Whilst we talk of respect and submission, if these are not earned, they are as worthless as the man who demands them from his wife.

Can the church stop perpetuating the idea that men are gods who must be worshiped and feared and start teaching the men and boys to love women? Looking at the story of Queen Vashti and Queen Esther, I see two women who had to do what must be done “in order to fulfill the prophecies” and none must be vilified or exalted because, on closer inspection, they lived terrible lives with this man. But such is many a woman’s story! It remains untold, unexplored and only the “suitable” bits are sifted through to give the “right/ suitable/ correct” picture.

“Confronting my demons”: In progress

Glad to be writing again. The fear of trying to write well has finally been cast from me. Started writing this one a little while ago but left it when I felt that I was speaking too much in the story. For ages now the story of this young woman has been lying in the back of my mind and I have been too afraid to write it. I have been so scared of judging her, of having people judge her! I wanted hers to be a perfect story but who has that? This is life and the best way to live it is to get on with it. Same thing with with writing. She is a mixture and an offshoot of several people whom I know or have encountered, some of them men and that is what makes me embrace her. She is her! It is as if she is telling me to allow her to live, to be and so I have finally begun to do just that.

“I have written and re-written her story enough times trying to change her yet she is still there, wanting to live. So, in honour of her determination and her life, here goes a snippet from her story, tentatively entitled:

“Confronting my demons” (all copyrights reserved).

I sit in my small room and wonder why nothing is going right. I have gone to school and have acquired the necessary education but I feel more schooled than educated because I honestly have no idea how to navigate this treacherous jungle called life. No one taught me how life ought to be lived and I am extremely frustrated, disillusioned and downright angry. I have spent more than half my life thus far in some form of educational facility but there is nothing to show for my pains and efforts. I say pain because it WAS painful sitting through class and forcing my mind to take in all that the various teachers were spewing out of their mouths and scribbling across blackboards as well as dictating through whatever classes I had to attend. It was pain aiming to get the highest grades just so I could make my father proud…ok, I knew, just as I know now, that nothing I can do will ever make him prouder than were I male. So, my sex was the next frustration nature bestowed on me after it gave me to the parents that I had. I must say that I am glad that my mother is no more. She finally got some rest from- no, this is not about my mother but about me.

…….

It was in my second month of pregnancy that Lightman came back from work one day, in unusually high spirits…well, the spirits in him were partly responsible. He kissed me and massaged my feet. I ought to have been alerted by that very act itself: what black Shona man massages the feet of his pregnant girlfriend without there being a catch? He ran me a bath and scrubbed my back and he went on to make me tea, chamomile tea, to be exact. It was “to help you relax, my sweet.” I had never heard of that tea before but who was I to reveal that? I happily drank my cup and allowed myself to be caressed, licked and sucked in all manner thinkable and soon enough…oh well, you know it.

I woke up retching so suddenly and spent the next few minutes seated on the toilet floor with Mr Man offering me mint tea, “to help with the nausea.” I should have been more alert, I repeat, I ought to have been more alert. He was not worried about my ‘illness’ but more about getting me to drink as much tea as possible. After throwing up what must have been the day before yesterday’s breakfast, I finally passed out. I woke up with heat around my lower back. It steadily became intense but my partner was there to give me hot compress with a towel. I realised that I was in trouble when I felt the stickiness on my bum. A quick hand behind me and it came back red! I was confused before I became alarmed but my babie was on hand to ease my worries.

…..
(Let us leave it here for now)

#VAW: the different faces and corners of violence around us

We do not want to admit that the issue of violence is more than just beating up women and children; it is more than raping and sexually abusing them. It goes deeper than psychologically damaging them. We need to begin to look at the real face of violence- society. You and I. It is high time we admit that our society has a skewed look towards violence itself. When a man beats up his spouse, we tend to endorse it as ‘discipline’ and immediately ask what had caused him to beat her up. In other words, we try to justify the beatings. When a woman beats up her spouse, we tend to see the man as emasculated. In other words, we take back the violent act and align it back into male territory.

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when men and women get physical in their misunderstandings, most people tend to look on and instead, encourage the ‘teaching of a lesson’ on the wrong party, especially of it is the woman.
Image courtesy of Zimbabwenewsonline

Society also helps in the breeding of conducive grounds for violence. We frown upon divorce and disintegrating marriages so much that we inadvertently force couples to stay within relationships that no longer work for them. We frown upon people who co-habit such that they do not feel they have any right to report any abuse being perpetrated upon their bodies. We are so quick to judge others harshly but expect everyone to understand us when we wrong others. We have a warped sense of moral fibre that condones the rape and abuse of ‘prostitutes’ and yet we forget that the moment there is a transaction around sex, it becomes a commercial activity warranting to be termed ‘prostitution’- the buying and selling of sexual intercourse using whatever currency. We also have this idea of what a rapist and sexual abuser looks like such that we deny it when our husbands, fathers, uncles, teachers, nephews, sons and brothers stand accused of such acts. Such is our sense of family that we strive to protect it at all costs, including denying our daughters and womenfolk the right to seek legal justice when they are violated. ‘Shhh,’ we tell them, ‘he did not mean it’.

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Is violence really a solution to domestic problems?
(image courtesy of BulawayoNews24)

‘’You are such a liar and a naughty one, you only want to cause trouble.”

“What were you doing in that kind of dressing/ at his house/ office/ at that time of the day/ night?”

 “If we report this, who will look after our family?”

“You are a young woman now, you are obviously having sex, you must have enjoyed it”

“He is your boyfriend/ husband/ husband to be he’ll pay damage when he comes to pay lobola, so don’t make a fuss about it”

“He is the pastor/ prophet/ reverend/priest/ elder/ deacon/ preacher, he is  a man of God and was helping you/ cleansing you, shh”

How can your own husband rape you when you are married to him and you even stay under the same roof and share the same bed? Shhh!!”

I could go on but I think that we have got the picture. There are all sorts of scenarios whereby rape and abuse of women is nullified and the woman is even attacked for daring to speak out. Many a woman will not even dare report that their husbands rape them (by the way, rape can be a once off event…when she agrees to have sex with him, it is for that occasion that she agrees to, any other time, he has to get her consent! That is the law, thankfully) Anyway, before I digress, we have such a warped sense of what marriages should be that we are willing to mourn at a funeral of a spouse who was murdered by their partner. (Please note that I said spouse because I am aware that men are not the only ones killing their wives but that there are some cases whereby wives have killed their husbands.) Our society would rather walk around and meet in churches and all the other social meeting places flaunting their marital status as if it were some high breed horse that has won all the major horse races and the Queen of England is now no longer speaking to Queen Margrethe because they both want that horse for the races.  Meanwhile, this so-called high breed racehorse on this winning streak is full of horse shit, literally, up its mouth because that is what it prefers to snack on to look so glossy and refined. Yes, that is what I will compare those men and women who opt to parade their fake (broken down) marriages in which they suffer untold of abuse simply because they do not want to be shunned by society should people know what is really going happening…they are great looking thorough-breds that are feasting on horse shit to look and maintain their winning streaks

It is not only in marriages and relationships that we see the abuse of women but within our very homes. How many Zimbabwean households have maids and gardeners who are under age and meant to be in school? That is abuse! Plain and simple. We want to cry out against China and the other eastern countries that use children in their manufacturing plants yet we are forgetting that we are equally guilty of doing the same in the very same households from which we chant and type away at online petitions against child labour. How many men have paid for sex with underage children off the streets? Ignorance is no bliss when it comes to law. That we have underage young girls on the streets soliciting for money through offering sexual favours is a huge problem as it is. They can look and sound ‘mature’ and ‘knowledgeable’ in the sexual intercourse department, hell, they can even say that they are old enough but the reality and the harsh truth is that; that is statutory rape! Can I ask again: who looks like a rapist? Ndiani akanyorwa pamhanza kuti ‘Ini ndinobata chibharo’? (Who has written across their forehead, ‘I am a rapist’?)

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This is a sad reality. we have it in such a manner that rapists do not even know that they are rapists!

It is even in those leafy suburbs where the ‘madam’ asks her relatives to get her ‘Musikana mudiki, asingazondinetse, wandinogona kuraira zvandinoda. Vakuru vanonetsa.’  (Get me a young girl whom I will be able to train how I want my household run. The older women are a problem.) Shame on us. It is from those ‘poorer’ households where amai nababa sit together and discuss sending their young girl to work so that she can supplement their income with her maid’s salary. From Chishawasha Hills to Domboramwari all the way across the country to corners such as Dete, koSkhobokhobo and in all levels of income and societal status, we have women abused in all manner of ways. People are outraged when ministers, members of Parliament and senior (read stupid) political and society figures are accused of sexual violence. Do we honestly think that when these people ascend societal and political ladders they leave their penises and sexual urges in our hands? Really? Let us be very real and begin to address abuse of women as it is, abuse. I am persuaded that had it been men who would be half as abused, we would not even be having campaigns, they would have nipped it in the bud. Look at what they do to women who are accused of crimes of sexual violence. They pull up the whole ‘you-are-supposed-to-be-a-mother-to-this-person-therefore-….’ Card. I would like to see society getting angry at men who let go of the paternal baton and bring in fear within society. I would like to see men and women holding the humane baton and beginning to treat each other with love and respect.

#VAW must end. Violence has no space in our society.

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Stop making excuse and play your part to end violence