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Our traditions are still backward: some of them!

01 Dec 2016 at 21:17hrs | Views
Nomazulu Thata
A lot has been said about violence against women and rightly so. It is a topic that has to be dealt with now that we once again recognize the 16 days as from the 25th of November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10th of December: it is a time to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the Human Rights Day. These are the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign world. We need to develop in line with CEDAW and the Protocol to the African Charter of Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa.

This time round I am not talking about the obvious: how women and girl-children are physically and emotionally battered in our homes in silence sometimes for years without the "outside" noticing it that there is something fundamentally wrong in the behaviours of a young girl even married women. It is those traditional customary laws, our culture that schools us to bare it all in the most violent homes: never tell it to anybody that you are abused, you are a battered wife or sister or daughter: if you do, then you are a bad girl or bad woman. But again if a young woman or a girl, was abused and she got pregnant she will take the blame still. "You were loose to your mulamu/muramu: you did not sit properly"! Those traditional values interpreted in customary laws violate human rights

Really; what does an eight year old girl-child know about reckless sitting to sexually arouse a man of 50 years to rape her? These are realities of our girl-children even in most respected and posh homes in the leafy suburbs of Zimbabwean towns and cities. Sexual abuse is not confined to social mobility ladders: it's prevalent in all social set ups right down to decent villages in rural areas. How does a 50 year old make it possible to engage sexually with a child of 8 years, sometimes even toddlers and babies?

Authors of a jornal: Newman Wadwsango, Symphrorosa, Rembe, Uwence Chabaya characterized the most common and harmful traditional practices: Female Genital Mutilation, Marriage by abduction, Child marriages and V*rginity tests. I would suppose that they omitted the most commonly practiced: marital rape by a senior member of the family (perceived father of the clan) in Zimbabwean families. I am passionate about this vague concept of tradition because it happened in my family and not in faraway places we would all like to think and imagine.

In this particular instance an Uncle had sex with the future bride of his nephew, only then could he give them the right, the permission to get married, the uncle okays the marriage of the two by testing the v*rginity of his future in-law. The girl, we are told,  refused to have sex with the pervert uncle, but when the uncle told her point blank, you will never marry my nephew if you do not have sex with me, she thought of her marriage that was a week away from her: she gave in and went with it: was raped marital rape! This traditional practice in still intact in our societies it's corruptly used by sex perverts UNCLES to emotionally reduce the future wife of the nephew. He is to test if the future wife is still a virgin! The stupid nephew goes with it! Curiously we never got to know if the reverse was possible; that the nephew would have sex if the wife of his uncle was no longer able for health reasons!

Marital rape is one of the worst forms of violence against women in our societies. It is not easy to recognize it at a glance as it is very much concealed by the two men. How does a young married woman carry herself in the home if two men know her sexually? This traditional practice undermines the absolute dignity of a woman turning her into an object of sex. This traditional practice ignores the dynamic human value that is embedded in every girl every woman: it confines the woman in her words, actions and movement in the home. What will the uncle and the nephew be saying about her, in their eye-to-eye exchange when the newly married wife moves past them? The language in our culture is so pornographic sometimes: every comments puts value to the MAN all the time, e. g. Kunjani nyanewethu? Unofara here mukadzi ningina. Also too the men find words to define themselves if they have sex with the married woman to the nephew "Nyana" they call each other.

We are not inherently fighting customary laws per se. We are genuinely fighting to eradicate those aspects of our traditional practices that violate those universal human rights and Zimbabwe is signatory to those conventions. We need serious transformation of our values and traditional practices, we must fight to transform those archaic and fossilized traditions; culture is wholly dynamic, traditions change with time. A visit, a close look into some of our traditions: they are as backward as ever, barbaric to even to imagine it by common sense. We still need to give a good fight to get rid of them. Lobola is one of them, but still its mild in comparison to other sexual exploitation of women and young girls by patriarchates in home set ups. Lobola was meant to be a token of appreciation of both families; but today it is the means to line up a father or brother's pocket.

We need serious transformation of our values and traditional practices, we must fight to transform those archaic and fossilized traditions; culture is wholly dynamic, traditions and their practices should change with time. We ask those in the corridors of power, especially women members of parliament, to move motions in parliament: deliberate those motions that ban traditional practices that fail to respect the rights of women. Values that are used to justify forced marriages must be banned. V*rginity tests are the most barbaric forms of human rights violations and must be banned. All those traditional values in our society that curtail women's rights must be dealt with; we have women in parliament who should look into those issues seriously.

What makes the fight for the right of women in Zimbabwean societies extremely difficult is that it is the women who are custodians of these archaic traditional practices. Most women support these traditional practices that fail to respect human rights of women and girl-children. When they do that they get recognition from the male folk, they are the "good" women in the society. The work of political activists is made to almost impossible by such patriarchal-women most of the time. It is the very women who will attack whistleblowers, are deemed social blights, slats. (Imghuwe)

 These "good" women, with their steamrolling effect, could be sister, aunties, sister-in-laws and sundry, have been given the masculine power by the patriarchal set ups in the home or clan to fight off those "rebel" elements in the family, in the society and in the nation, that demand the change of status quo, those women that demand those traditional practices that make men feel good about themselves at the expense of women and girl children.

We shall continue to fight for the rights of women for the sake of our girl-children whom we love dearly. We have become a global village; we cannot afford to be "Africa" laughing stocks, a black continent with fossilized traditional practices. Our traditions should be aligned to international conventions that say all cultures and civilizations in their traditions, customs religion and beliefs share a common set of values. We shall look after Bona Mugabe-Chikore's child too, Simbanashe in the mean time!

Source - Nomazulu Thata
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