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Of Molesters and Voters

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I listened with disgust the other day to a woman and two men justifying why one of the men had fondled a woman’s breasts in public. The woman in question was a total stranger. While the young man claimed he was drunk when his hands strayed and groped a strange woman’s bosom – an offence that subsequently saw him do community service as his just desserts – the young scoundrel still insisted he believed what he had done was not wrong. His female interlocutor agreed.

They all agreed the woman had invited it, and I could only guess if she had with her a sandwich board with an appeal to that effect! The female in this conversation incredulously asked why the offended woman was the only female “who is always” molested. It turned out one of the men who had groped her for free thrills was an off duty cop at the local drinking hole where the second incident had also occurred. So she invited it! I suppose the violated woman must have had that voluptuous, nubile, adrenalin-rushing, eye-popping, pant-bulging, curvy body that screamed for men to fondle her, so who could blame these men if they only responded in the manner nature ordered?

There was outrage in South Africa recently when touts and taxi drivers thought they could define women’s dress code and punished “skimpily dressed” women by stripping them, then pointing laughing at the naked woman. It is such behaviour that was being extolled by these people.

I sat and listened silently and my mind went on overdrive as I made parallels with our present political circumstances where men, women and children have “invited” the wrath of Zanu PF militias by simply voting for a party of their choice. As the discourse on Zimbabwe’s post-2000 political narrative that has been defined by coercion rather than persuasion and has rendered all democratic precepts – fundamentally that of the ability to exercise one’s franchise without paying for it with brutal violence – the woman’s body as an object of men’s sexual pleasure presented for me a fascinating analogy.

While attitudes have changed among progressive African societies that wife battering belongs to the annals of those Neanderthal men (perhaps a la that cute Flintstone dude dragging the wife) the very fact that there still exists folks who justify these acts surely strengthens the case for those radical courts that would demand the amputation of that part of the anatomy that would compel one to rape.

Same with politics: how do we justify the battering of opponents on the sole “charge” that they decided to take destiny by its horns and vote for a better future. If these acts can be justified, then surely we can justify the violation of women in the manner of that imbecilic young lout.

And these louts abound these days and are giving fashion a bad name donning party regalia emblazoned with that mustachioed and bespectacled darling of the international talk shops. They have also been spotted running their hands all over stupefied teenagers also wearing those loud t-shirts, and a friend quipped the other day that the pregnancies in the making will produce nothing but more fist-waving!

But back to the lager lout. How would he feel if his own sister came home shedding tears and telling a story about having been groped by some drunk? Would he not take an axe and spear and confront the pervert? Stories abound about the circumstances under which recent elections were held, and these are stories that bring tears to one’s eyes even though the testimonies are from total strangers.

The violation of human rights exists on many levels, and wherever such violations occur, it can only be described as tragic if not moronic if justifications of any sort are brought forward. If a woman can be fondled by a stranger in public for whatever reason (as if any is needed), if a voter can be clubbed to death on allegations they did not vote wisely, does that not scream for the total revisiting of what makes a superior being in the whole created order.

The intolerance of alternative views in Zimbabwe’s political discourse as defined by the so-called veterans of the struggle has obviously cascaded down to the lowest echelons of our society. It is just as that great wise soul Confucius noted many ages ago that the model of good behaviour begins at the top.

One comment to “Of Molesters and Voters”

  1. Comment by Global Voices Online » Zimbabwe: Of molesters and voters:

    [...] Phiri at the Kubatana blog draws a parallel between those that justify sexual harrassment to women by the way they look or dress, with the [...]