Protect the African girl child from sexual abuse and ravishment



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A very disturbing trend is thriving  in Africa, tied to the culture of impunity permeating the continent and it is the indiscriminate sexual abuse and ravishment of women. The HERALD  newspaper of Harare, Zimbabwe last week reported that over 1, 000 girls were raped in the country just between January and June.

This figure is staggering for the fact that most rapes are not reported in Africa. 1,000 definitely means that about 3, 000 girls may have been raped in Zimbabwe in just 5 months. Most women raped in Africa do not report it because they end up being blamed for putting down their guard and are often stigmatized and ostratized by the very society that frowns on these practices.

And Zimbabwe is just a single country whose rape statistics have been reported. It is a fact that rape is not prevalent in Zimbabwe alone but is a common practice in many African countries. Just read the Zambian, Ugandan, Nigerian, Ghanaian, Liberian, Sierra Leonean , Rwandan newspapers , among a host of others from other African countries and you would notice reports of rapes daily.This cannot continue in our continent. Something has to be done.

The reason that rape is so prevalent in Africa is not only that the law is not working; it is also because people in Africa are not really educated about the meaning of rape .A woman is raped when she is forced to engage in sex against her own will.It does not matter whether it is done by an acquaintance, lover or husband. In Law, it is rape as long as the consent of the woman was not procured or as long as  it was obtained under duress or some form of tricks. .

Many Africans think that it is rape only if the woman is physically grabbed and carried away kicking and screaming. But violence need not be expatiated for the crime of rape to be committed. Even a casual encounter  in which consent was forced  subtly is rape. We think that governments in Africa must launch programs to educate people about these realities.

Another misconception that many African men have is that women are supposed to yield to them, especially if there is a romantic relationship. But actually, this is not supposed to be the case. Women are not bound to yield to men and our African conventions, cultures and beliefs that engender this thinking are unprogressive and criminal. Women are human beings like men and should enjoy the freedom of choice. Even in marriage, the woman must exercise her right to consent to sex willingly or reject it, depending on her feelings or circumstances.

We think that African governments should also toughen rape laws especially in this age of AIDS and other deadly sexually-transmitted diseases. We cannot afford an AIDS  disaster that could consume most of our young or adult population.


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