Outspoken Bulawayo East Member of Parliament and feminist Thabitha Khumalo has challenged men who are raping minors to look for their peers, like her and challenged them to try her if they were man enough.
“I am also inviting those men who are raping minors to go and look for people like us, we are waiting for them. We want to see them, if you are man enough, I am woman enough,” she said sparking laughter from fellow MPs.
“So, why rape a minor?” Khumalo said in parliament during a debate on a report on violence against women and girls presented by another legislator Paurina Mpariwa.
“There is availability of the commodity all over the show, all what you do is, you must meet the requirements. That is why you are running away from us going to the minors because they do not know what to expect. I know what I am supposed to expect so, come we are waiting for you. We want you, all men, you are all invited. Stop raping minors.”
Khumalo said women had the passport to pleasure but tthey needed to issue visas. That must be respected.
She summed it all by quoting from the bible: “Do not abuse us. Mathew 7:7 is very clear, ask and yee shall be given. Saka kumbirai muchapuhwa, celani lizapiwa.“
MS. T. KHUMALO: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I would like to thank Hon. Mpariwa for this brilliant presentation. I want to air my views on the question of gender violence. The last speaker put it very clear. We have a challenge when we talk about economically empowering the woman, because how can this woman be economically empowered, when she goes to a job interview and the first thing that she will have to do is to pay in kind. So the moment you are paying in kind, you are no longer being economically empowered. You are being disempowered because somebody is taking away your dignity. Even if you have the qualifications; it is taken away just for the mere fact that you are a woman. So we have to pay in kind.
That is one area of concentration that we should look at in terms of us making laws that deal with sexual harassment at work places. One of the challenges of trying to deal with sexual harassment at work places is the question of prima facie evidence where you are supposed to bring the evidence beyond any reasonable doubt that, somebody sexually harassed you. Remember the issue of sexual harassment is between two people Mr. Speaker Sir. So honestly speaking, half the time you find that the woman is said to be wrong because it is clear that she wanted it.
It is not a question of wanting. We have passports to pleasure and as women, we need to issue visas. I think that must be respected. We come to the issue of culture. We have men that become intimate with young girls who are 13, 15 and 16 year olds. What then happens is that they are scared of taking the issue to the courts of law. That man then offers to marry this young child. The issue is dealt with at grassroots level between the parents. This poor 13, 15 and 16 year old becomes a mother at 13 years. So again there is need for us to look at our cultural norms and at the same time, engage the chiefs and the people responsible for laws so that we look at this issue of converting rape to marriage just because we have an upper hand as men in converting that rape to marriage.
Mr. Speaker Sir, you find that the maternal health deaths become very high. You can imagine a 13 year old being pregnant and her body is not yet ready to carry a baby. So that is one area that we are looking at and that then means to say, every girl child in this country or globally, as long as they are raped under age, we are sentencing them to death because these children will never have a good future. We also have a niche about the issue of HIV/AIDS and how it can be cured. There is a belief that if men sleep with young virgin girls, their AIDS will go away.
Mr. Speaker, can I put it on record that sleeping with a virgin does not cure AIDS. AIDS is cured by you going on the programme of the ARV treatment. That is how AIDS is cured. It is not cured, but you can live with it. So sleeping with such young children does not cure AIDS. It never will and it never shall. Everybody must go to the regime of the HIV/AIDS treatments. As a country, I am sure you are all aware where you can go and collect your drugs. So stop sleeping with young girls that are virgins because, the AIDS that you got as what the last speaker said, you are getting it from your own peers. Please do not spread it to those that are not your peers.
The other challenge that we are going to face is the issue that HIV/AIDS has been reduced dramatically. We have a challenge in terms of treatment of the young people. The young people are not put into consideration when it comes to treatment. Currently 34% of HIV/AIDS has infected youngsters who are on ARVs, whilst 64% of HIV/AIDS infected adults are already on ARVs. These are the same adults that are infecting these children. There is need that as a country, we recognise the issue of youngsters’ treatment on HIV/AIDS because 34% is very low.
The other issue Mr. Speaker is that we have got beautiful laws that protect women in this country. The greatest challenge of these laws is the implementation of those laws. You will find that somebody rapes a woman or a child and he gets five years in jail. Somebody again rapes and he gets 54 years. There must be a standard sentence for rape cases. At the same time, let us be proactive on false accusation of rape issues. There are some people that raise false accusations that they have been raped, when they have not been raped. But, we have to deal with the issue of sentencing because it is actually shocking. Why should others be sentenced 5 years and some 54 years? Rape is rape and there is need for the powers that be to work on those laws so that at least there can be a correction and that we could have deterring sentences that might help these people from raping our women and girl child.
The other issue, Mr. Speaker Sir, is the issue of media coverage. Every time a rape occurs, there is mention of the victim and not the perpetrator as long as that perpetrator is a man. I think, all of us have been reading from the newspapers where there has been an outcry of female rapists. Mr. Speaker Sir, the newspapers, the televisions were awash with these female rapists because they were women. They were all over but a man rapes a woman, we have never seen their pictures. All we know is Mr. X raped Hon. Khumalo and that is where it ends. So, we are asking the media to play their role in addressing the gender violence issue. They are supposed to educate people and must do their job. They should not select who has raped who. Rape is rape and make sure that the coverage does also deal with issues of women. There is something good that we can do, one of the good things is the presentation by Hon.Mpariwa.
Looking at issues of gender based violence. Poverty is a cause of gender based violence because, can you imagine Mr. Speaker Sir, everyday as a man you go home, you have not been paid or you are not working and there is no food. You have not paid rent or your dues. Obviously the next thing is you fight and the woman will say we have not eaten for a week. What will you do as a man? In order to defend yourself, you have got to beat up the woman because she will be talking too much.
Now, if that then happens, what does that lead the woman to do? As women, we have what we call maternal instinct. There is no way that a woman can ever leave her children to die of hunger as long as she lives, she has to find a way. An hon. member mentioned the fact that real men do not rape. I am also inviting those men who are raping minors to go and look for people like us, we are waiting for them. We want to see them, if you are man enough, I am woman enough. –[Laughter] – So, why rape a minor? There is availability of the commodity all over the show, all what you do is, you must meet the requirements. That is why you are running away from us going to the minors because they do not know what to expect. I know what I am supposed to expect so, come we are waiting for you. We want you, all men, you are all invited. Stop raping minors.
Talking of issues of poverty, we have to find a way as Government to eradicate poverty in order to improve on the issue of gender based violence. Mr. Speaker, talking of mental anguish, every minor who has been raped, if you follow their lifestyle, you will notice that they end up being prostitutes. Why? Because they have been traumatised and the introduction to life by the person that they thought would look after them has taught them that life is pain. So, at the end of the day, three quarters of those whom we call ‘prostitutes’ are victims of rape and the only language they know when it comes to the issue of intimacy is rape.
So, the best thing for them to do is to abuse their bodies for the benefit of looking after the siblings with the proceeds from their rapists who are not even man enough to look after those children. So, at the end of the day, we are the same people who are calling them names but not giving ourselves time to investigate why they are doing what they are doing and how best we should then come in to help them.
I think the Ministry of State for Liaising on Psychomotor Activitiesin Education must play its role now. This is the time to deal with the issue of gender based violence and find the source and when we find the source we ratify.
Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to end on the issue of verbal abuse. Have you ever noticed that when you are walking the streets. I am wearing a short dress and am quite presentable and you pass a man along the streets who proposes you. But unfortunately, the way our men propose to us is a bit rude. Eeeh vatete zviri sei? Then you ignore that, then he says, you are showing off, who told you that you are pretty? Then you ignore again, so you think you are it?
We are verbally abused day in and day out by these men, some of them who are sitting here and all what we are asking from you is, do not abuse us. Mathew 7:7 is very clear, ask and yee shall be given. Saka kumbirai muchapuhwa, celani lizapiwa. Thank you Mr Speaker Sir.