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Zimbabwe male MPs fuel gender violations

08 Mar 2019 at 16:58hrs | Views
WHILE a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, the journey to women's emancipation seems so close yet so far!

The day to day scenarios are characterised by women being victims of all sorts of abuse.

Women continue to be subject of unfair treatment as issues to do with objectifications have become events of the day, a daily bread.

Despite the unending calls from all corners to give women a voice, abuse remains  a 'fashionable' trend which has gotten worse in Zimbabwe as more and more people embrace social media.

The various social media platforms have seemingly intensified the abuse of women, especially on political matters.

But where can women find shelter from such abuse?

All things being equal, parliament would be ensuring that the issue of women abuse is addressed either by ensuring implementation or amendments of existing laws to match current trends.

However, it seems the august house is housing men who are not honourable at all if activity on social media is anything to go by.

Most prominent is Zengeza West MP, Job Sikhala who posted an abusive tweet in response to news of rape accusations against his party's leader, Nelson Chamisa.

Sikhala is not just a member of parliament, he is a lawyer who is also into human rights. He crossed the line by posting a picture of the supposed rape accuser while asking his male followers on Twitter if they would be tempted to rape her given her physical appearance.

Following numerous protests by people to Twitter, Sikhala was forced to delete the offensive Tweet at a stage the damage had already been done.

But there were many issues around his deplorable conduct.

For starters, the picture of the woman that Sikhala used was actually a case of mistaken identity as she is a health worker based in Kadoma and unrelated to the matter apart from sharing the same name and surname.

As pointed out by Alex Magaisa, an academic at Kent Law School, it is both unprocedural and unethical to publish names or images in such circumstances.

"The general rule is to safeguard the identity of rape victims or at any rate, those who allege to be rape victims. Some people may question the fairness of this given that the accused are often named in the process. But there are sound public policy reasons for protecting individuals in such circumstances.

"One is that victims of rape usually prefer not to report abuse on account of the public shame that is associated with rape and indeed, the public reprisals that might follow such reporting. The result is that they would rather suffer in silence than expose themselves through reporting. Consequently, abusers can get away with it and go on to do it again and again. It was wrong to share pictures of the alleged victim. Unfortunately, there are those who abuse this sound system and make false allegations which damages the name of the accused who must go to great lengths to clear themselves."

Magaisa added that the social media recklessness led by Sikhala exposed the women to mob justice.

"This is an all-too-familiar challenge of social media: innocent people can, through no fault of their own, be hung out to dry in the unregulated court of social media. They can be vilified and subjected to mob justice with no room for response or recourse.

"What happened to this individual was utterly wrong and deplorable. If there is any to salvage, it is that the episode ought to be a lesson to everyone to exercise more caution on social media, especially when it comes to moral outrage and mob justice. This is important because it can have dangerous consequences. Some people have been driven to extremes, including suicide, on account of social media vilification and persecution. We ought to do better."

Former Harare West MP, Jessie Majome was among the prominent human rights lawyers who took to Twitter to express disappointment in Sikhala's actions.

She insists that women, can compete alongside their male counterparts and there is need for a shielding hand against bullying from male counterparts especially from supposedly honourable MPs.

"We castigated the objectification of women.

"Such language is unacceptable, women rights are human rights and women are not somewhat machines which you think you can use and throw away as garbage," she said.

Majome believes MPs should lead by example and show society that there should be acceptability of women and demystifying the perception that women did not deserve respect.

"It is very funny how these MPs insult and assault women when they know that women constitute more than 65 percent of the country's total population, which means whatever percentage that voted for those MPs more than 65 percent were women but these so called MPs do not even value that vote, not at all.

"They are expecting to get a seat again in the next election with this kind of behaviour and attitude.

"No one this this planet has the power to judge anyone or even measure other people's personal appearance, we were all created in the imagine of God and these MPs, Hon Job Sikhala in particular should take that into consideration, respect that and obey it."

Focusing on the Sikhala issue, Majome said:

"The whole scenario was just wrong, what if it was his sister, wife or mother, how would he feel?

"As a lawyer and a women representative I hope that this lady will take the correct measures, if it means a lawsuit let it be because it seems like the hounarables are always getting away with whatever they do, let this be at least a lesson to others today and in the future.

"The way he said it, it seemed as if being raped is actually a complement, only the so called beautiful women can be raped and the so called ugly ones are not worthy raping.

"As if men actually make choices on what is worthy raping and what is not worthy raping, as if women should celebrated after being raped, which is very wrong."

Responding to the sentiments made by Sikhala a on her twitter handle, Advocate Fadzai Mahere said:

"It's vile, disgusting abuse which betrays a complete failure to respect the dignity of this woman in particular and women in general."

Veritas Women also lambasted Sikhala:

"We condemn this tweet which emanated from Job Wiwa Sikhala's account in strongest of term.

"We will be issuing a detailed statement about it.

"This is most unfortunate especially coming from a supposedly honourable legislator."

A political movement, Build Zimbabwe Alliance added:

"Absolutely appalling Job Sikhala, and you have the audacity to call yourself a human rights lawyer.

"Hope you have corrected the mistake you have done."

Sikhala's moment of madness came at a time Norton MP, Temba Mliswa and Chivi South representative Killer Zivhu were involved in a Twitter war where women were central to the fallout. When Zivhu claimed there were suspicions Mliswa was gay, Mliswa responded:

"As a fact finding exercise I am inviting KZivhu to bring his wife and sister to verify whether I am gay or not. The butchery will be a good place for the exercise."

The tweet by Mliswa was received with lambasts:

"Women are not objects for pledge taking or completion or personal wars. This is wrong offending women in general and uncalled for."

***

"This issue is between two men and this should between them only. This equally offensive to people and women in Mliswa's life. Please stick to your wars and sort them alone live women out of your business."

***

"And you had to disrespect women, ko ingopisanaika mega, vakadzi vapinda papi apa."

In December there was an incident in parliament where Buhera MP Joseph Chinotimba was reported to the speaker by Thabitha Khumalo for calling her a prostitute.

"Thank you Mr Speaker Sir. I am back again here on a point privilege. Surely, I am shocked to the core, that we have Members of this parliament who call us names.

"Hon Chinotimba has just called me hure that is in Shona, in English – a prostitute.

"This must stop, I do not care who says what, this is wrong.

"It is not a crime for a woman to Stand and debate or challenge a situation, whether my challenge is wrong or right, no one has a right to call me names.

"Hon Chinotimba has no right to call me a b**ch. I am not a b**ch, I am a Hon Member who was brought to this parliament by Zimbabweans and as a woman I want to be respected.

"He must withdraw because if he does not, I am taking him to court."

Chinotimba withdrew the statement.

There are a lot more incidents in parliament which show that, as Zimbabwe commemorates the International Women's day, the country's supposed honourable men are going the opposite direction in the quest to give women the respect they deserve.

The struggle is real!

Source - hmetro
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

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