|Grace Mugabe. pic bulawayo24.com|
First lady Grace Mugabe's lambasting of child rapists and recommending them to seek sex workers since sex work is now ''legal'', boggles the mind. It is mind boggling that Grace Mugabe, who is expected to champion women's empowerment, could loudly proclaim the legalisation of sex work as if it is something to be proud of. It is devastatingly obvious that (if) sex work had to be legalised it is because of the high numbers of women who have nothing to make a survival from except their own bodies. Therefore for Grace to add insult to injury by forwarding rapists to them is surely in direct conflict with the empower and employ mantra that Zanu Pf has been selling since the last election. Grace Mugabe made these proclamations at a rally in Binga as was reported by Newsday, a local paper.
A rapist is a rapist period. He is not going to abandon his rapist ways just because he is with a commercial sex worker. There are many cases of sex workers who get raped and denied payment and if only the police could really protect sex workers many of these culprits could be brought to book. If Grace Mugabe truly cares about girls she can start by advocating for their parents not to be chased out of their profitable vending areas to useless out of the city designated points. That is where we expect the First lady to show her muscle. In meaningful issues of survival. Otherwise, the girls will continue being raped if their parents return home late because they are trying to salvage what few customers they can get late into the night at those in-the-wilderness vending points that were introduced by government.
Furthermore, many women who are into sex work are not in it by choice and if given one they would leave sex work due to the hazards associated with the profession namely rape and high risk of contracting HIV. How ironic then that the first lady wants more rapists to descend on sex workers. A lasting and decent solution to the issue of child rape would be for the First lady to have a meeting with Vice President Mnangagwa together with Commissioner General Chihuri and tough talk them into ensuring that; firstly police must speed up rape case investigations, and secondly the ministry of justice must ensure timely delivery of deterrent stiffer sentences for rapists.
We have been crying out for the stiff penalties for ages. In my opinion this would go a long way in deterring would-be child rapists. At the moment, justice is delayed and good as denied for survivors of rape because the current justice system is mired with allegations of corruption, inefficiency, bribery and of course the civil servant syndrome of unwarranted delays. It is a disgrace that in Zimbabwe stock theft is met with a heavy hand and attracts stiffer penalties than rape even though there are higher incidences of rape than stock theft. Therefore we have men who are afraid of stealing cattle more than they are afraid of raping young girls.
Lastly, as boss of Zanu pf women's league with a capacity to raise in excess of 2 million United States dollars in a matter of weeks for her birthday bash, the first lady could embark on an empowerment drive to raise funds to help women who would want to leave sex work and earn a decent living. Because, we all know that most of those women who are selling their bodies do so because they have no other option for survival.
All this is what I would be glad to hear coming from the First lady not the sensationalist and populist statements bent on coercing the women's vote for 2018. Women and girls empowerment goes beyond reprimanding child rapists at a rally. It is about sending girls back to school and having political will to create a conducive socio economic environment which enables women to eke out a decent living. The First lady could also convey the latter statement to her husband.