Last week was culture week. we were celebrating everything that we love about Africa but in the past few months, locked down in place we’ve been forced to confront the cold hard realities of our skin. The cold hard reality of being a woman.
The truth is I feel helpless. This is not to start this article with a message of hopelessness but to reiterate what I feel, what we all feel.
This is bullshit and we are tired!
During the week of 10 to 14 May we were confronted with these realities.
A 13 year old girl who had been impregnanted by her father.
Hon Joana Ruvimbo Mamombe, Cecillia R Chimbiri and Netsai Marova, had gone missing on Wednesday 13th May 2020.
On the same night a shocking video emerged online detailing a long history of rape and child abuse at Sodbury School.
The story detailed cases of women who were in the school from 1998-present with rape victims starting from as early as 13 years old.
The rape & sexual violence started happening way before the 90s with Spencer Banda’s father (who is now late) to the extent that some of the girls that he raped were married off to him.
Because this started years back before many women could even access the law, a lot of rapes were unreported.
You can access the video (here)
On 14 May the ladies were found.
In a petition written to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC), the Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) and the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC).
It was stated that, ’The three suffered horrific sexual abuse, they had their breast sucked and guns inserted in their anal passage. They were also made to sing, march and dance non-stop for more than 24 hours. They were assaulted all over their bodies with iron rods. The activists were forced to drink each other’s urine and to eat faeces. The perpetrators also cut them on their backs using razor blades as part of the torture process. The leaders were later dumped in Bindura around 9pm on the 14th of May 2020. They were later rescued by a team of family members and lawyers around 2am on the 15th of May 2020’
After facing torture and sexual assault, they now face a prison sentence.
Among the many other cases is that of two women from Bulawayo namely Nokuthula and Ntombizodwa Mpofu who were seriously assaulted by six police officers for allegedly breaching the COVID-19 lockdown regulations. The women suffered a lot of trauma and injuries. Another lady, Lucia Masvondo from Karoi was assaulted on 03 April 2020 by police and army officers who also set dogs on her, injuring her in the process. Her alleged crime was that she had defied lockdown regulations.
There are still pending cases of 18 women who were raped by suspected State security agents during the January 2019 riots and shooting of unarmed women by the army in August 2018 which have not been brought to justice.
You can find and sign the petition (here)
On that same Thursday the story of Breonna Taylor who had been killed in her home surfaced online. She had died two months before but her story was amplified after the release of a video showing the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery – a black jogger who was confronted and gunned down by a white father and son.
On the 15th of May a march was underway in Sudan where they were remembering the death of an 8 year old girl;Juba who was gang raped. It was found that she was one of 19 young girls and women who had been gang raped.
Since then we’ve been greeted with a few more realities.
22-year-old student, Uwavera Omozuwa was raped and murdered in a church in Nigeria .
A 16-year-old girl, Tina Ezekwe, allegedly killed by a police while standing on the side walk.
And for the past few days the world has finally taken notice as everyone stands in solidarity for George Flyod.
It’s sad to say and sad to admit but these are only the cases that have hit main stream media. These are only the cases that are being talked about but for many many others there is no justice.
This has brought about a cry and fight within the world that questions and asks.
Do our lives matter too?
Living on the African continent where we are constantly silenced and brutalised by the police.
Where women are silenced through rape for daring to have a opinion.
I see the same pain and torment in Breonna Taylor’s family who were ignored and forced to suffer alone as I see in the families of Cecialia, Joana and Netsai who still lie in the hands of their captor, the same pain that we feel for Paul Munakopa.
Because where is their justice?
And I can see the anger that people feel over which story gets to be called out and those that don’t.
And the truth is;
we are fighting one system that was set in place by colonialism.
The same system.that enslaved and continues to serve racism and brutality in America is the same system that ensures that patriarchy reigns and all that we know as black people on this continent is the shedding of blood.
They think they own us, own our bodies.
IT IS NOT BY ACCIDENT!
It is not by accident that our government is awarded the same ’Fake News’ cry when approached with truths of these injustices as is yours.
It is not by accident that across 195 countries in the world we can relate to the solid truth that we are not free.
Our freedom of speech has been translated into systematic rape and torture.
Our anger translated into violence when they truly mean non-compliant.
They expect us to stay divided and to argue amongst ourselves while nothing changes.
They treasure the silence, when we refuse to acknowledge that we are one.
When we refuse to realise the similarities of this oppression.
Today (1 June) in a peaceful protest we remember all those who have lost their life to rape.
Write whatever you feel( e.g my body my choice) on a cardboard or piece of paper and take a picture with it.
Also wear a black shirt in respect to those who lost their lives due to rape.
As we do this let us remember those who are still fighting for their lives and those who have no yet found freedom because their lives have not yet been given back to them.
We have stayed silent for too long.
We are one people!
When will her name be said as many times as his?
When will my skin dictate a life not crowded by shame and a death sentence?