Tag Archives: african marriage

Why do I feel I’m nothing without a man?

4 Jan

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A lot of mail lands on our desk and invariably the most common theme is men and problem relationships.

Whether it’s the young lady asking for tips on how to find a man to marry, the mother praying for her husband to give up his mistress or the newly-wed whose husband’s ordered her to stop seeing her unmarried friends, they all have an underlying angst.

Without trivialising the experiences of our readers it strikes me that African women, by choice or duress, spend a disproportionate amount of time on issues of ‘finding and keeping a man’ to the exclusion of other potentially enriching activities in their lives. I’ve been known to avoid social gatherings where I know the most stimulating conversation will be how to keep a man from straying. I like to think I have more interesting things to do with my time!

Now don’t get me wrong, I love men.

I grew up with four of them, my brothers and father, whom I count amongst the most important people in my life. I voluntarily married a man and pledged to spend the rest of my life with him. I gave birth to a little man and would instinctively fight a lion with my bare hands to protect him. I have some amazing male friends whose intelligence, wit and humour never cease to amaze me.

HOWEVER, I know that the men in my life make up only a part of the many diverse interests and activities that occupy my time.

So why do many African women feel they’re nothing without a man? To find out we went straight to the horses’s mouth through a mini survey of our readers.

It’s clear that culture has an overriding influence in how we define ourselves and our role in the world. From birth an African girl’s identity is based on serving men and places her firmly in a less powerful position than her brothers. The division of labour from early on is on this basis, the double standard of how we spend our leisure time is blatant and most importantly society’s sanctions against those who don’t fit its definition of a ‘good girl’ are swift and severe.

“African women’s upbringing is that marriage is a top priority in our lives, by age twenty five I was getting pressure from all around me that I was over the hill”

“Being dependent on a man, that’s a culture thing, that a man is a man and he is allowed to do what he wants”

“Women are conditioned from a young age to find a mate for marriage, endless reminders of how decisions in earlier relationships can jeopardize chances of finding a man willing to marry them. Countless lessons on being the future perfect wife”

“It’s expected that a married woman is just there to keep the house in order, breed and look after the kids. She needs no affection, love and so forth, as long as she is called madam. That’s why society thinks Polygamy is OK because women have no feelings apparently”

What’s their perception of African marriages?

“The typical African marriage is one of suppression where the man is the boss – Yebo Nkosi. African men must quit the abuse (emotional, physical, mental etc) stop being so selfish and learn to communicate better”

“Women are subjects to their husbands, often depend on their husbands for their financial well being, submissive to their husband’s and in-laws’ demands. As an African woman you not only marry him but marry his whole family, leaving little room for independent decision making”

“I consider myself spontaneous, adventurous and carefree but I know I’ll have to change my personality after marriage since for African men ego is their priority not my happiness”

“You end up just putting up with their nonsense because it’s easier to just let him always be right”

“African couples often do not view each other as equal partners giving to power struggles within relationships. Women are expected to be docile. Infidelity on the husband’s part is often the norm and acceptable”

“I’ve had to slow down on travelling as they are so much into budget limiting”

Here’s the irony. For all the pressure African women feel to become ‘a door mat’ after marriage it appears this is not what the contemporary African man is looking for. In a quick sample of our male readers the overwhelming majority said they were attracted to a woman with a good dose of self-confidence and independence, financial and otherwise:

“She must also be ambitions in her own right, for the record I found Margaret Thatcher dead gorgeous in her prime years as PM”

“Nothing is more important to me than wit , intelligence and an insatiable appetite to learn. Sadly it would appear that the majority of African women think when they hit a certain age – all this is not necessary”

“I’m attracted to intelligence and a keen sense of humour”

“I like to know that I’m not her only financial plan”

“I’m not looking for women who see marriage, partnerships as some form of financial solution”

“I find neediness a complete turn off”

So why do African women feel pressure to partner no matter what?

“I’m not proud that I’ve put up with my husband having another woman rather than standing up and taking a lasting solution to just leave him. You know when you are married you are a respected someone in society, young people look up to you, the elders respect you and praise you. There’s also the fear of raising four kids alone, what will people say? It’s a whole lot of emotions…and also cultural pressure etc.”

“As more of your friends couple up they tend to slowly isolate you, make you feel incomplete like you no longer belong to their group. Even when giving advice or in general talk it’s like what would you know?, it’s implied you have no idea about life until you’re married”

“Many times I’ve been placed in a position where I feel guilty even speaking to my friends’ husbands. Because I’m single there’s an asumption that I’m a flirt and a fear that I might snatch their husbands who know no boundaries”

“Some husbands advise their women not to hang out with you just to cover their mischief and you have no opportunity, no voice to express your innocence because you’re being judged on your marital status. Single women are a bad influence seems to be the motto”

“I’m so sick of feeling like I owe everyone an explanation for being single. I get questions like what exactly are you waiting for as beautiful as you are and you’re not getting any younger”

So what’s a girl to do when her whole value is dependent on her relationship status?

There was a certain resignation among the female participants that it was ‘hard’ to change culture and they did not expect much change in their own relationships. However, they all felt change was inevitable for future generations.

When asked what advice they would give their daughters there was a strong feeling that the key to improving the lot of African women in relationships is education, financial independence and careful choices:

“My sage wisdom would be – understand why you are getting into a relationship and what you want to make of it. Take your time to fully understand what the other party wants and expects of the same. If you are not of the same mind at the beginning it is unlikely you will get round to agreeing in future. I would also advise that every relationship has its own settings that it must live within and it is no different in the African culture – its demands and expectations will weigh heavily on you from the days of youth up to the dying day. Define for yourself and decide whether the expectations are what you want to live with. Some things change but culture does not do so easily as by definition “it is the way we do things around here” – and Africa is a very patriachal society.”

First things first, educate yourself, make sure he finds you independent and self sufficient in order for him to respect you and that way you can have a say in the relationship. Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s too late to improve yourself, it’s never too late. Study him and be careful in your choices and do not tolerate his miscellaneous activities. Know his worth because you’re the one that will be stuck with him for the rest of your life.”

“Never give up your dreams in order to hold on to a relationship, find someone who will let you be comfortable in your own skin and not expect you to bend over backwards to be a perfect partner. Take your time to find a long term partner and don’t succumb to any pressure that you will be past the prime of your youth”

“I would advise her not to let any man put her down, she must remain independent such that she can continue to pursue her interests despite being married. eg. further her studies, travel and so forth”

As I look through these frank comments again I wonder whether the time spent by African women talking about relationship issues is wasted after all? I’m struck by the words of one reader who said,  “As Africans we prefer to talk to each other about our issues where non Africans might  prefer a more public media”. I’m reminded that culture is not static. I’m convinced that for change to happen there must be enough people disatisfied with a status quo and willing to act to change it.

What if each of these conversations about men and relationships is not a waste of time at all, but in fact many small steps that collectively will one day make that big cultural shift we so desire for our daughters?

Whose virginity is it anyway?

26 Oct

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By Nyasha Gloria Sengayi

So I was having drinks with a hopeful who had so much potential of winning the heart of this stubborn woman. In my head, as I laughed with this guy, thoughts were reeling to a point where I even convinced myself that he was the funniest, most intelligent, most handsome, sweetest man left on earth… but that was until he asked me a question that led to the writing of this article.

All of a sudden, the guy decided to take our conversation from discussing the weather and other small talk issues to another level and asked me a question.

“So Nyasha tell me, are you still a virgin?” asked the Moron of the Century. I asked him to repeat himself.

I’d like to believe that I pick my men well but this guy became a failed project the moment he asked me that question. I was pissed off but maintained my cool and continued to eat my salad and drink my lemon water, both of which I decided to pay for the minute I was asked that question. I remained silent.

“Did I touch a raw nerve?” – another misplaced question

“No, I don’t have raw nerves, mine are just critical,” I responded.

“I’m afraid I don’t get you,” he replied.

Unfortunately, all men who go out there virginity hunting and testing don’t get it as all they want is to be the Nobel Laureate on the Commission of Virginity Breaking! I don’t know why these men give a fuss about our virginity more than we women do; I’ve heard this question from many men and I really find it offensive for a guy to have the nerve to interrogate my virginity status without even getting to know who I really am.

So all the time we are talking, he is thinking about sex? Is that the value he has placed on me? Why is it that every man wants to scramble for a piece of my hymen (or rather every hymen)? It seems like a ploy to keep women in the pit of ransom.

For a while, I was the judgemental girlfriend who had no idea why my friends were ‘giving up’ their hymens (as if there’s a cost attached to them). In this regard, I was perhaps no different to the men I now encounter. But my thinking has since matured.

The idea of breaking

In an expression of untamed egos, the language used when men sleep with a virgin expresses a disturbing power dynamic. Men speak of ‘breaking’, ‘ripping’, ‘tearing’, (wakamuboora here, ndakabvarura), and use a whole lot of other crude terminology. As a general principle, things that we break are fragile and powerless, so what these men, in effect, are saying is that our hymens are exactly that – powerless and fragile! Ladies, are we really that fragile?

You will rarely hear a woman saying, “I threw away my virginity”; we give it and entrust it to someone (in different circumstances where there’s consent). And that’s what women always seem to do; we always give a part of ourselves, no matter how much it costs us. For me, therefore, every man who asks about my virginity first before getting to know my surname has one aim: to break and disempower me.

Mapping my hymen

Having been born with my hymen hidden somewhere in the territory of my vagina, I’ve always wondered why it was placed there. Its location presents so many questions to me as a young woman; questions like, “Why is my vagina there?” and “Who has a claim to it?”

I think about it a lot, particularly about its safety down there. For most of us, the vagina is the last part of the body that we want to interact with outside of sexual pleasure; most of us have never gone down on a mirror just to check out what’s popping ‘down there’! For that reason I’ve heard many stories about women who have no idea how their vagina looks; who have, after a stint with an STI or irregular discharge, been forced – only then – to inspect themselves. At that point, however, they are not so sure if that is really how their vagina ought to look.

For other women, it’s their husbands or sexual partners who get the first sight of that part of their body; reflecting on all of this, my question would be: How do you trust someone to ‘break’ the hymen located in a space you are not familiar with yourself?

As for me, I can map my vagina in my sleep! It is who I am, the root of my identity, the heartbeat of my passion, the pulse of the feminism I have nurtured in my life, it is me. So I’m fully aware – and in total control – of everything that goes on ‘down there’. My friend laughed at me the other day when I went on a Google search to find out how a vagina should be properly cleaned and taken care of. But for me, it is of paramount importance that I know the ‘ins and outs’ – literally and figuratively – of this precious part of my body.

It is from this perspective that I then wonder why men think the easiest thing any woman can do is to simply open her legs for them so that they can enjoy breaking her hymen, without the slightest bit of understanding that the vagina – with or without the hymen – is a complex organ whose functions remain the same.

If the hymen is no longer there, is there a difference between a virgin and a non-virgin? Where is the difference? Why and how does the experience of sleeping with a virgin elevate a man, if at all? Where is the benefit?

Transactional identity

When will our men understand that not everything about women is sexually transactional? We are not a commodity and shouldn’t be treated as such. It’s just a hymen; seriously, I don’t see which part of life you will miss if you don’t have an experience with one. That just boils down to misplaced egos.

While I value my hymen, I don’t see it giving me much after I lose it. It won’t even guarantee me marital happiness. How many women who’ve gotten married as virgins have gone on to get divorced? Let’s be very realistic; how many have been infected with HIV in the comfort of their homes thinking they were safe with the one man who ‘broke’ their virginity? And also, how many women who got married as virgins have had extra marital affairs?

What really are we looking for – virginity or character? Personally, I think the vagina, and not your hymen, gives you your identity; any attempt to lay a claim on my hymen ignores who it belongs to.

It’s my hymen!

I just want to let the men know that keeping your virginity does not always mean you are keeping it for them. That is a misconception based on what men think they are owed. In case they didn’t know, some of us relate to our vagina outside of pleasing men sexually.

Growing up, advice given to us by our parents and other relatives told us to preserve ourselves and our hymens for our husbands. While this is a valuable practice, the truth is that that little piece of meat is mine! Even my parents don’t own it! If it belonged to my husband, then why didn’t God just place it on him?!

My hymen is on my body for a reason. I should decide how it goes and to who. Placing emphasis on the hymen as something we owe to our men displaces our power of choice. I am not saying women should sleep around, but I am saying that if I’m going to keep this hymen intact, that’s purely for my benefit.

The man I will give it to should never be mistaken in thinking that I have preserved myself for him. For me, it’s not like that. I don’t appreciate the whole world checking my virginity status for the sake of massaging their egos; that culture should end this minute! Surely it’s more beneficial to get HIV and STI tests done than to monitor a woman’s virginal state.

What all this drama has done is open new business opportunities for people who are now inventing virginity soaps and other products. Who ever thought that the hymen could be manufactured? And the pity and double standard of it all is that women hardly check men’s virginity status; in fact, we’d be scared to come across a male virgin.

So just before I left the table and paid for my meal (I had to argue to pay for myself and thank God, I had ordered a salad!) I responded and said:

“If your father had checked your mother’s virginity status, you probably wouldn’t be here today. Can you please confirm that for me!”

And with that, I walked off, not looking back.

Mapping my vagina helped me appreciate a lot of things about myself as a woman. Throughout my research on my vagina I have learnt that the things that you draw intimacy from are the very things you know everything about. I find my vagina a very complex organ which is able to shape how my identity is defined out there. So in that regard, it should be respected and dignified whether you are getting some or not from it.

At this point I wish all men would have an appreciation of the heart of our reproductivity and how much respect should be awarded to it. How then do you break something you respect and love?

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Nyasha is a feminist working with a young women’s organisation in Harare. She takes an interest in exploring world issues affecting women globally and is working on opening space for visual documentation of research on the status of women in Zimbabwe. Currently, she is writing her first book.

*Article reproduced courtesy of http://www.herzimbabwe.co.zw

What is the point of marriage?

18 Oct

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by Carol Dube

I have just learnt, with terror I must admit, that some of my relatives and a few friends are becoming worried that I may never settle down and get married. I am in my early thirties and strangely, I am assumed to be more than ripe and ready for marriage.

As if that is not enough, just the other day, I had a terrible misunderstanding with my paternal aunt – she fears I am becoming too successful that finding a man to marry me may prove to be just too difficult. I am advised men don’t really like successful women. I can’t help but be concerned.

Are men truly afraid of a successful woman? Isn’t it quite humorous how our society views men and women so differently? It is not in dispute that a successful man is very attractive, quite a catch. A friend of mine the other day was telling me that it is no longer necessary to take stock of the ratio of men versus women but rather, successful men to women, and I am told it’s 20 women: one successful man. Such figures are obviously unofficial, but this portrays just how on demand a successful man is.

The odds are, however, not the same for women. The more successful or the more educated a woman, the less attractive she becomes. It’s really an issue of double standards on the part of our society.

I became so concerned over this issue that I went as far as doing an online survey in some social forums I subscribe to in order to ascertain just why successful women aren’t viewed as marriage material. What became so obvious is that most men do not find a successful woman attractive because they fear that they may not be able to control her.

Just why men find it so macho to control a woman puzzles me. Are women so erratic, unpredictable, wild and dangerous that they ought be tamed and controlled? Is it really proper to control another human being? More importantly, is it profitable for any person to conduct their lives in accordance to another’s rule book?

It appears the brothers in my society are not too keen on marrying for the sake of gaining an equal partner. They seem to want a docile kind of a lady: the one who drops everything for her man and will bend over backwards just to please him; the kind that suffers in silence and dares not question him on any issue. A door mat. One that can easily be tamed.

Just take a closer look at most marriages in our society. Don’t wives seek permission to do just about anything? Most wives hardly ever make any decisions without consulting. Is it that they are incapable of making decisions or maybe they are just not competent enough?

Some men go as far as demanding that their wives dress a certain way; be home at a certain time; associate with certain individuals and obviously disassociate with others. Are women truly incapable of making their own choices on fashion, lifestyle and friends? Must one abandon their person for the sake of becoming what a man demands and expects from them? What is it that strips wives of their power and vests it with their husbands ? Could it be the fact that one pays the bride price for the other?

When a man pays lobola for his wife, is he not merely extending his gratitude for being blessed with a wife? How then does lobola become a symbol of ownership of a wife by her husband? It is beginning to appear as if a wife, like a couch, is just another household item.

The way this institution called marriage is understood in our Zimbabwean society leaves women in a very feeble position. I do not feel I am losing out on anything by not marrying.

What do I stand to gain from marriage? A man? I have one. Furthermore, I certainly can get and keep any man, if I put my heart to it.
Becoming Mrs so and so? Why? I already have a surname. I have been using it for over two decades, and I am sure using it for the rest of my life would not kill me.

Babies? I already have and I did not marry their father by choice. What really is the achievement in marriage? Am I missing out on anything? I have seen so many people marry only to divorce a couple of years later. Why then must I set myself up for heartache, pain and a life of misery?

Maybe one day, I will change my mind. Maybe one day I will choose to be tamed. Maybe I will choose to be controlled, to live a life according to the husband’s strict instructions. Maybe one day this institution of marriage will make perfect sense – I may even regret not having jumped into it earlier.

Until that very unlikely day, I refuse to marry to conform to societal expectations of me. I refuse to marry for the sake of my family and friends, the pleasure of them watching me tie the knot at the expense of my independence and joy.

__________________
Carol Dube is a social commentator who tells it like she sees it

*This feature first appeared on http://www.newzimbabwe.com

Stop the rape of our children – sign the petition!

21 Jul

Nigeria
On Tuesday 16 July 2013, the Nigerian Federal Senate approved the marriage of under-aged children in the country. We at Every African Women are outraged that once again girls’ rights are being openly violated under the guise of culture and religion.

The new law sets aside the constitutional requirement that a child must be at least 18 years old to enter into an agreement of marriage. Supporters of the under-age law include Senator Yerima Ahmad Sani who himself recently married a 13-year-old Egyptian girl. In justifying his actions he stated that the constitutional stipulation of a minimum age was at variance with Islamic law. How convenient then that the Senate’s actions have now legalised his actions!

Sign our petition to the Nigerian National Assembly demanding that they stop the legalisation of child marriage. Pass it on to everyone you know, man or woman, and stop the legal rape of our children and little sisters!

SIGN THE PETITION NOW

Are all African men promiscuous?

25 Apr

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By Bekithemba Mhlanga

 

Way before Tiger Woods and the golf club incident; he was referred to by some female sections as the whitest black man on earth. Fast-forward a few years and the slight came – what could you expect, the black African genes in him had to come to the fore. He simply could not stop his eye wandering and keep his pants zipped, it’s in the genes!

The promiscuous African male has been an urban legend for years. Nothing stirs gender wars more fervently than the question of who is more promiscuous male or female. One then adds fuel to the fire by throwing race into the equation – and dares suggest that most African males are promiscuous. The assumption being that they are more promiscuous than their Caucasian, Arabic or Oriental counterparts.

This assumption is a toxic as suggesting that all Muslims are terrorists just because some terrorists happen to be Muslim!

The fact is no one knows if African males are more promiscuous than males in other parts of the world. The evidence put forward can at best be said to be circumstantial mainly on the basis of the research from HIV / AIDS infection rates in Africa. Take for instance the UN report entitled ‘Women and HIV / Aids – Confronting the Crisis’ which noted that almost universally in Africa, cultural expectations have encouraged men to have multiple partners while women are expected to abstain or be faithful. How valid this is in a continent with over 2000 tribal traditions, and many varieties of Christian and Islamic communities, is open to debate.

To test the validity of this assumption, I did a little research and asked African males whether they are more promiscuous than other people. The biggest reaction was that it’s not a question of promiscuity of African males just that they are serial polygamists while white males are serial monogamists. The argument being that both have a natural tendency to mate with as many females as possible just that African men want to have them all at once. The question is why?

There’s a huge difference between explaining behaviour and excusing it. Explaining it assumes a logical reason for going down a certain path while the latter seeking to atone for the behaviour pattern. My own observation is that in the ‘explaining’ class are cultural, biological and economic factors. In the ‘excuse’ corner are what I’ve classed as the ‘because I can’, ‘lack of sexual satisfaction from one partner’, and ‘peer pressure’ factors. Whilst African males cannot be said to have a monopoly of these factors – I’ve only looked at them from the African male perspective for the purpose of this column.

The unmarried African males I spoke to argued that their promiscuity is to be expected since single people tend to have more sexual partners than married ones (at least that’s the way it’s supposed to be). They point out there is no cultural obligation to have one partner, in fact quite the opposite. For this group it would appear then that promiscuity is some sort of entitlement and a rite of passage. It’s part of our rich African culture – whatever that means.

Controversy emerged when I moved on to the married African male. Surely if it’s a question of having sex on tap then the married African male should not be promiscuous. But then the cultural shield is held up again. It’s always been accepted that the African male can take on more than one wife or have a mistress as all this is for the good of the family. How this is so, I have no idea. Surprisingly, none of my interviewees quoted the bible or the Koran to go forth and multiply.

It’s the biological explanation that seems to be the bastion of the promiscuous male though. One chap put it to me that it’s simply a fact that males tend to think about sex more often than females. And there’s no shortage of statistics to back this up. I was pointed to one research paper that suggested males think of sex six times in an hour while women do so four times in an hour. Admittedly the research said nothing about whether this was with one partner or multiple partners

We all know Africa is a super patriarchal society and the effects of this patriarchy are manifested in the economic power imbalance between males and females. An unintended consequence of this is that African women are vulnerable to wily African males who exploit this for their own benefit. In fact some see this as passport to go out and sow their wild oats with total abandon. I recall a discussion with a colleague who kept a harem of women in Soweto South Africa. On quizzing him about how he got his way with so many women – his response was that Soweto girls are easy – quarter chicken and chips from KFC does the trick. The pattern repeats itself regardless of economic status – for the chap on low income it may be the KFC meal, for the middle income it’s that dress and hairdo and for the super-rich it’s the car and the house.

What of the second category – the ‘excuse’ class? It was clear from my research that there’re some African males who generally believe they can be promiscuous – whether married or not – just because they can. For this group, if they can mate with as many partners as they can they will and they don’t need to explain it. A second factor with this group is the argument that at some point the fun and action fades with the one partner, to them variety is the spice of life. This herd tends to hunt for the opposite sex of similar minds. There is a residue of the promiscuous African male who find themselves in this group simply because their friends are doing it. Whether this is a manifestation of some dormant promiscuity driver is for the concerned to explain.

To ask whether there’s anything that African females can do to change this behaviour is tantamount to asking them to solve a problem they did not create – unfair and pointless. The onus is on the males themselves. It’s up to the guilty males to realise that being monogamous, whether serial or otherwise – is not being a mug. It’s about valuing your self-worth, upholding morals and values that are not only good for the individual but also show respect for your partner. It’s about setting an example to your children and shaping how your daughters will be treated tomorrow.

Many will say, it is easier said than done. Granted! But the truth of the matter is the greater majority of African males are faithful and it’s the minority few who give the rest of us a bad name. This is exactly what the bell shaped curve reveals – that we all live in mediokristan – not in the extrimistan world of the promiscuous African male.

Let’s talk about Oscar Pristorious

23 Feb

fistula pic
I must admit I was glad to see the back of Oscar Pristorious, at least for now, so I can finally get some sleep!

After three sleepless nights following live court updates from a time zone nine hours ahead, not to mention the lively debates on Facebook, I was physically and emotionally exhausted and waited in weary anticipation for the big decision.

While the decision to grant bail was a disappointment to many of us, the magistrate gave a well reasoned judgement that was devoid of the emotions the world had become caught up in. In the heat of the moment we all forgot a bail hearing is not about determination of guilt, that’s for the trial.

And so, as we eagerly await what’s sure to be an explosive trial, the spotlight now shines on an issue that’s often swept under the carpet in African societies – violence against women.

Personally, I think the man did it and his story has all the markings of a narcissistic, controlling man who blows his top when he’s not able to control the object of his obsessive affection. The global adulation he’s received recently had no doubt created an air of invincibility.

Under the light walk the key characters that illuminate the complex nature of this discussion:
1.The alleged perpetrator who challenges society’s beliefs of what an abusive person looks like.
2.The Magistrate representing a justice system that often gives unequal treatment to victims and perpetrators.
3.The bumbling ‘African’police who are easily corruptible and undoubtedly swayed by a defendant’s race, wealth and social status.
4.The legal eagle who’s been described as a ‘legal gun for hire’ and represents the best ‘getaway card’ that money can buy.
5.The victim whom many wonder if she stayed too long in the relationship and ignored warning signs.
6.Society, whose opinion holds great sway but is rarely supportive of the victims.

Over the next few weeks we’ll focus on violence against women within the African culture. Please get in touch if you have personal experience and even if you don’t, join the discussions!

Next week an interview with Alice*, ‘This doesn’t happen to people like me.’

*Name has been changed to protect her identity

On mothers, boyfriends, toddlers and sex

10 Feb

toddlers 2The naked woman straddles the man whose bare legs are stretched out lazily in front of him. She’s lost in the moment as she works hard to extract what little pleasure she can from his small, limp penis.

A small, face appears behind her, a boy, perhaps two and a half, not quite three years old. He watches this scene for a second then calls out “mama”, no response. Maybe they didn’t hear so he tries louder “mama’, again no response, his mother’s attention is elsewhere. The little boy, looking trapped, raises his left arm and pulls at his ear in discomfort. Too young to understand exactly what’s going on he intuitively feels he shouldn’t be seeing this.

Speaking in Ndebele, the man says, “Sengiphos’ukuqeda” [I’m about to finish].

She stops briefly and asks “Uthi kunjani?” [What did you say?].

Ngithi kanti wena awuqedi? Sengiphosa ukuqeda” [I said are you not ready to finish? I’m about to finish], he repeats.

A few seconds later, the man puts his hand on her hip and the woman gets off his lap. “Mhh, angiqedanga mina” [Mhh, I didn’t finish] she says in disappointment.

“Uzabuya usuqeda” [You’ll finish later] he reassures her. She walks off the screen and the video ends.

Except the story doesn’t end there! Someone posts the video on the internet and so begins a global hunt to “name and shame” the woman.

She’s since been identified as a 24 year old Zimbabwean who lives in South Africa. She recently issued a statement to say the man in the video is the father of her son and the video must have been leaked by mobile phone repair workers when she took her phone for repairs.

An extract of her statement reads:

“The man who shot the video is my only lover and is father to my son. I was not coerced into making this video, we did it for fun. In fact, my boyfriend took the video using my cell phone. Soon after he gave it back to me and how it went viral is my sole responsibility. However, I remember at some stage I had problems with the cell phone and then took it to a cell phone repair shop. I believe it is where the video was stolen and then circulated.”

About her  son watching she says:

“I really don’t know why on earth I did not stop. I regret everything. Its now like I don’t love my son, I love him so much, nothing on earth surpasses my love for him.”

“I am now even scared going back to Zimbabwe. How am I gonna face my grandmother in Mzilikazi? I am being insulted and abused every day by strangers on my phone. There is no single day that passes without any abuse. I accept I made a terrible mistake but I want to assure all those who are concerned that such a thing won’t happen again.”

She goes on to say that the video has led to the father of her son resigning from work.

“He had taken me to his work place, unfortunately some people had seen the video and managed to identify me. It was so devastating, so my boyfriend had to resign from work because of that. Now you can see how we have suffered because of this. We are being tormented every day and night.”

This incident raises issues on so many levels, about parental responsibility, child abuse, African culture’s attitude towards women having sex, privacy and issues around bad sex and whether women should speak up when their needs are not met. Do you feel it matters whether the man is her only lover or the father of her child?, what about the man, why was there no campaign to name and shame him? Is it ever a good idea to let anyone make a sex tape of you?

This one’s up for general discussion.Tell us your thoughts!