As a survivor of childhood sexual gender-based violence – which I was subjected to at the tender age of seven years old, at the hands of an older female, whom we resided with
For some strange reason, was made to share a bedroom – I still find it quite torturous to speak about such matters, as the trauma endured at that gruesome experience, negatively affected my life in tremendous ways – nonetheless, I believe that everything that happens to us, if placed in the powerful, most capable, loving, healing hands of our God Jehovah, in Christ Jesus name, can be transformed into unstoppable power for positive change, and influence in other people’s lives, and the nation large.
And, as such, I have decided to use this most troubling experience, as a life-changing testimony for the betterment of other people – especially, those who have undergone a similar turbulent and hellish journey.
In other words, I will no longer treat this as some dark, embarrassing, and nightmarish experience, that should bring me down – but, a powerful weapon for positive change.
This then brings me to the currently emotive issue of sexual gender-based violence, particular pertaining to the boy-child – as recently shown by the chaotic and ramshackle manner, in which the criminal case surrounding a 26 year old commercial sex worker, who allegedly sexually abused a 13 year old boy, was handled.
What made this case such a comedy of errors (for lack of a more suitable word, as there was absolutely nothing comedic), was the challenges the prosecution appeared to encounter, as far as finding an appropriate charge – considering that, our laws in Zimbabwe, as indeed, numerous other countries around the world, for some inexplicable reason, do not recognize the rape of the boy-child in particular, and males in general – such that, they confusingly moved from charging her with ‘having sex with a minor’, then changed to ‘rape’, and again altered it to ‘indecent assault’.
This apparent discombobulation was, by any means, not a consequence of a disorganized or ill-advised prosecution team – but, rather laws of this country that have pathetically and shamefully betrayed and let down the boy-child, and males in general, who have been preyed upon by ruthless ravenous vultures, who have either taken advantage of their vulnerability, or naivety.
In fact, with the case in point, the defence counsel had a field day in court, trying to portray this seemingly flip-flopping by the prosecution, as some sign of their lack of evidence, or the flimsiness of their case.
As this case is still sub judice, I will not dwell on it for long – nonetheless, it has helped place the calamity of the boy-child (and, men) to the fore, as a forgotten victim of the world, who has been abandoned to the peripheries of the justice delivery system, merely because he is supposedly in the minority of reported sexual abuse cases, and as such, no one cares much about him.
It could have been a bit more understandable why I found it extremely pointless in reporting to anyone my own dilemma in 1980 (a secret I kept to myself for four decades)- as our laws and the justice delivery system were still archaic, such that, there would have been absolutely no hope for me – nevertheless, 40 years down the line (and, in the 21st century) one would have thought we had evolved and advanced as a people, such that, the laws would have, by now, recognized the severe gravity of both female and male sexual abuse, and treated them the same before the courts.
Is the boy-child to always be confined and relegated to the dungeons of being helpless traumatized victims for the rest of their lives – and, never elevated to being survivors – merely, because their ‘sin’ is being born in the minority, thus, no one cares, and no one will stand up for them?
Well, I am one of them, and I am here, and will stand with them…with all my spirit, breath, strength, and mind – until every child (boy or girl), and adult (man or woman) is treated the same before the eyes of the law – as surely, we are all viewed the same by our Creator, Jehovah God Almighty.
Rape is rape – and, in fact, any modern dictionary would label the standard Zimbabwe definition: “non-consensual sexual intercourse forced by a man on a woman”, as ‘archaic’ – since the more progressive and acceptable understanding of this dastardly and repulsive crime is, “any sex act forced by any person upon another person; by extension, any non-consensual sex act forced on or perpetrated by any being”.
Which means, boys and men can be raped – as long as a non-consensual sex act was perpetrated by another – and, just as with the girl-child, if the person is below the age of legal consent (which in Zimbabwe is 14 years old), then any apparently ‘consensual sex act’ with a boy or girl of 13 years or below, should be unequivocally RAPE, and nothing less.
I was RAPED when I was seven years old. It was not ‘sex with a minor’, nor was it ‘indecent assault’…it was RAPE!!!
The real danger with these double-standards in the formulation of sexual gender-based violence laws is that, it affects the victims more than anyone else – as creating a chasm and imbalance between the two genders will inevitably lead to the one group (that understandably feels hard-done and ostracized) banding and haggling together in defence of their own – yet, this struggle against sexual gender-based violence is for all of us…both male and female.
And, when a struggle becomes divided, the inevitable is sure to happen – defeat.
It is time that our government recognizes a truth that has been staring them in the face for as long as humanity has existed – that, both boys and girls, as well as men and women, have been victims of sexual gender-based violence – and, as such, for any effective fight to be waged against this scourge, there is need to treat this with equal fervour and determination… without trivializing any one group.
Only then, can we transform victims into survivors – and, as we are doing for our female folk, rid the world of an angry people, who feel hard-done by the opposite sex, since they never got justice for crimes committed against them, as such, have developed an unhealthy and distorted image of life and gender.
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700, or Calls Only: +263782283975 / +263733399640, or email: email@example.com