DATE can be RAPE
A sharp voice full of agony and resistance was heard screaming from the next room at the girl’s hostel. Her utterances could not be heard as they were engulfed in her weeping. The poor helpless girl’s scream faded out with time, and a hoarse voice was head saying ‘After all you are my girlfriend’, that was the end of the noise.
Hostels and homes around university campuses usually harbour different types of sexual abuse and manipulation girls are the most affected. These are places where students core habit, enjoy their sexual rights and exercise their sexual freedom, but sadly, at times with undesirable consequences. Despite universities and colleges being an institutions of higher learning, cases of sexual abuse and sexual relationships remains a concern.
Date rape is a situation where one is forced into having sexual intercourse with his or her partner he or she is dating. It is important to note that when a partner forces his or her counterpart to having sexual intercourse against their will, that is rape and it should be reported. Sexual advances like kissing, touching, hugging among other things should be mutual. The moment one is cohered to engage in any sexual activity, it becomes rape regardless of the relationship that they have with the perpetrator.
Girls are usually the most affected because they are usually forced to divert from their beliefs just to protect their relationships. Young girls sometimes get into sexual encounters when they are not prepared just because they are afraid of losing a man. At times their boyfriends force themselves on them, which is referred to as date rape. However they never report such issues to the police or even college authorities. Most of them think that their boyfriends have rights to do whatever they want with their bodies. In some cases the post-reporting humiliation hinders the girls from making reports.
Most of these date rapes are not reported to the police, or responsible authorities due to various reasons which include, fear of embarrassment, fear to be judged by fellow students, and fear of losing financial support. Most of the young women in colleges are forced into sexual activities and are date raped because they fear to be judged by their fellow counterparts that they are backwards and at times they are scared to be exposed. Sad enough, this happens in the places of Higher Learning where resistance to such pressures are expected.
A university is a place where most adolescence are found and they stay there with little or no control from their parents and they feel that they are old enough to make decisions for their lives. Many want to experiment their sexuality by practising what they see on television hence lot of sexual myths circulate among themselves.
In this patriarchal society men think they have control over women whom they date or they are married to. This is a serious societal challenge which has to be addressed. This has serious repercussions to women sexual and reproductive health. As a result young college girls end up involved in unprotected sexual acts to protect their relationships especially where they are also benefiting financially. This exposes them to sexually transmitted diseases like STIs, HIV among other diseases.
Young people need to be careful with relationships which may expose them to abuse. Sexual acts should be mutual and agreed on. Any sexual advance that happens without consent is criminal and should be reported to the police. There are also cases of young women who are drugged by their partners at parties so that they can easily have sexual intercourse with them.
Students and Youth Working on reproductive Health Action Team (SAYWHAT) calls upon the government to expedite the student funding challenge that has been with the students for years. Absence of students funding through grants and loans is a major factor exposing the young women in colleges to date rape. Young women are forced by circumstances not to report such sexual abuse. The sexual abuse is also common when students are on work-related attachment. Besides the student funding, there is need to also strengthen the justice system so that reported cases are decisively dealt with without embarrassing the victim.
International Women’s Day 2018: Women and HIV #PressforProgress
by Audrey Nosenga
Students and Youths Working on Reproductive Health Action Team (SAYWHAT) joins the world in celebrating the International Women’s Day under the theme PressforProgress, The theme of the International Woman’s Day Campaign provides a unified direction to guard and galvanize collective action globally. The theme does not end on International Women’s Day but it’s just a starting point as it builds momentum throughout the whole year. What does this theme mean for women living with HIV in Zimbabwe and around the world?
HIV disproportionately affects women and adolescent girls mostly because of their unequal cultural, social and economic statuses in society. Intimate partner violence, inequitable laws and harmful traditional practices reinforce unequal power dynamics between men and women, with younger women in particular being the most disadvantaged. Although HIV is not only driven by gender inequalities, it entrenches gender inequality, leaving women more vulnerable to its impact. In Zimbabwe and many other developing countries, women face significant barriers to accessing healthcare services. These barriers occur at the individual, interpersonal, community and societal levels. Barriers take any forms including denial of access to services that only women require, discrimination from service providers stemming from views around female sexuality, and poor quality services. Procedures relating to a woman’s sexual and reproductive health (SRH) performed without consent like forced virginity examinations and illegal abortions also deter women from accessing services. In some cases healthcare providers do not fully understand sexual reproductive and health rights of women and this can lead to women choosing to have illegal abortions as they are misinformed about their options and how to protect their health as well of their child’s. In some cases women require the consent of spouses or partners to access SHR services. A lack of access to comprehensive HIV and SRH services means that women are less able to look after their Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and increase the risk of HIV infection.
In a number of settings where SRHR and HIV services exist they are primarily for married women with children and do not meet the specific needs of unmarried young women and adolescent girls. Most health care providers often lack the training and skills to deliver youth-friendly services and do not fully understand laws around age of consent. In some cases young women have knowledge of where to obtain SRH information and services but they face offensive experience with service providers’, unsupportive attitudes, power dynamics in relationships and communication issues with parents and community members prevent them from accessing and utilizing the information and services that they need. Due to dominant cultural and religious norms, sexual activities outside of marriage are often unaccepted by both service providers and the young people themselves. As a result service providers are reluctant to provide SRH services to unmarried but sexually active young people who in some cases are young women and more often these young women are too ashamed or afraid to ask for assistance.
Poverty is an overarching factor that increases vulnerability to and the impact of HIV. Transactional sex, early marriages and abusive relationships which may be as a result of financial challenges, exposes young women to violence and abuse. It’s a sad scenario that food insecurity often linked to poverty, acts as barrier to treatment for women living with HIV. This increases both the risk of HIV advancing and onward transmission. Transactional sex with older man is more likely to expose young women to unsafe sexual behaviors, low condom use and an increased risk of sexually transmitted infections.
Issues to do with Gender Based Violence prevents many young women from protecting themselves against HIV. In this case Gender Based Violence which can be seen as a physical manifestation of gender inequality has been shown to act as a barrier to the uptake of HIV testing and counseling, to the disclosure of HIV-positive status, and to antiretroviral treatment (ART) uptake and adherence, including among pregnant women who receive ART as part of services to prevent mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT).
As we continue to fight against AIDS with the hope of an HIV free generation, this International Women’s Day may we all think and act towards protecting women in all aspects of life. Collective action and shared responsibility for driving gender parity is what makes International Woman’s Day successful. International Women’s Day belongs to all communities everywhere- governments, companies, charities, educational institutions, networks, associations, the media and many more. Whether throughout the global conference, community gathering, classroom lesson or dinner table conversation- everyone can play a purposeful part in pressing for gender equality.
So make International Women’s Day YOUR day and do what you can to truly make a positive difference for women. Protect them against HIV/AIDS and help them decide.
Celebrating International Students Day 17 November 2017
Until Sexual Harassment Stops, we will not stop.
Sexual Violence is one of the world’s most egregious forms of discrimination and abuse of human rights. It takes place anywhere, any place any college or university. Despite decades of effort, particularly from the women and women’s organisations, student affairs department people still experience violence at a staggering and traumatic rate. Sexual harassment can be defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that create an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment constitute sexual harassment. In real terms this include rape and sexual assault, systemic, culture based forms of violence and new emerging forms of harassment and stalking based on modern technology. It can also be defined as any conduct, comment, gesture, or contact of a sexual nature that is likely to cause offence or humiliation to any person or that might, on reasonable grounds, be perceived by that person as placing a condition of a sexual nature or an opportunity.
Major forms of sexual harassment on campus.
Emotional/ Psychological Abuse- the systematic destruction of personal’s self-esteem and or sense of safety, often occurring in relationships where there is difference in power and control, it includes threats of harm or abandonment, humiliation, deprivation of contact, isolation and other psychological abuse tactics and behaviors
Rape- unwanted sexual intercourse, including vaginal, anal or oral penetration. Intercourse occurs by force or by the threat of force or coercion such as that caused by fear of violence, duress, detention, abuse of power, committed against a person incapable of giving genuine consent
Date Rape is one of the profoundly disturbing realities of sexual violence in its prevalence among young people who are at the beginning of their romantic, intimate and sexual lives. Just looking at the context of Zimbabwean Universities and college campuses the statistics are staggering. Most female students said they had been victims of violence in a dating relationship. When surveyed on sexual pressures most male students admitted trying to force someone to have sex with them and the majority of females admitted being pressured into doing something sexual that they did not want to.
Drug facilitated rape/ sexual assault, since the mid 1990’s, there has been a growing number of reports of assailants surreptitiously using prescription and not prescription drugs to induce dis-inhibition, sedation and amnesia to facilitate rape. This type of victimization is commonly referred to as drug-facilitated sexual assault and many other easily accessible substances have been reportedly been used to facilitate sexual assault and alcohol is the most common drug in this category. Most prevention work around drug facilitated sexual assault has focused on education the students about the risks they face and what they can do to protect themselves. After sexual abuse, seek medical treatment as soon as possible within 72 hrs for the most complete care
In an effort to engage people in preventing sexual violence against women and girls we must address the pervasive myths around sexual violence. Some of these myths include;
- Men’s violence and sexual desire is misconstrued as impulsive, uncontrollable
- The myths of “stranger danger” that the greatest risk to women is the unknown “sexual predator hiding in the corner”
- Sexual violence is in some way “caused” by women’s sexuality- the idea that “ the way women dress can instigate a sexual assault or if a woman makes any kind of advance, it is an invitation for sexual intercourse.”However enthusiastic consent is of paramount important as this encourages both partners to discuss their desires and to openly communicate with each other before and along the way of sexual experiences.
However approaches to sexual violence prevention have varied over time and can be described along a continuum of prevention where at one end, efforts are focused on educating people to end sexual violence at the other end, initiatives curved at informing potential victims of warning signs of sexual assault. Campaigns such as NO means NO are well known throughout Zimbabwe but a newer approach has emerged that addresses the issue of enthusiastic consent. This model addresses consent by going beyond a NO response and Suggesting instead that involved partners seek an enthusiastic YES before proceeding with intimate relations of any kind. It is my own understanding that “ issues to do with sex are the rights to do with individuals. Normally we talk of the right of the women and the right of the man. All these people have got equal rights. It is in the eyes of law, if one person has a right to ask for sex then the other person has the right to say NO and take no as an answer.”
Gender Transformative Programming
Two types of programs
- Gender neutral– no distinction between the needs of men and women, neither reinforcing nor questioning gender roles. 2. Gender sensitive- recognise gender norms but little attempt to transform them 3. Gender transformative- seeks to promote equitable relationships, change gender norms and social expectations
- Address and Inform Men (AIM) Framework. The framework was articulated by Dr Michael Kaufman, co- founder of the white ribbon campaign for UNICEF 2003, it rests on the promise that we must address our cultural construction of masculinity. Engaging men and boys to reduce and prevent gender based violence-men can stop sexual violence to eliminate violence against women and are not homogeneous, there are tremendous ethno-cultural, economic, faith based and historical diversities to consider. According to the framework men from those communities must be both addressed and involved at the program development level, using relevant action oriented messages, using images of men/ boys who are like them. Engaging men at this stage, in this way also builds a sense of ownership and personal investment in the issues and program or intervention. “if we are asking men to change, whether as perpetrators, potential perpetrators, or in more positive prevention roles, they need to be addressed and involved.”
- Peer and Near Peer Mentoring, Train the Trainers. Many programs and projects around the world work to build capacity of individuals and communities to become peer/ near peer educators or to leverage the reach and impact of their work through the training the trainers. Not only can this be an effective means of promoting attitude and behaviour change but also establishing new social norms (that men care about and are engaged on the issue of gender based violence prevention) and is a cost-effective method to realize greater impact.Group like Men’s Action for Stopping Violence Against Women (MASVAW) in India, the Men As Partners (MAP), Men Against Rape and Sexual Abuse (MARS) in Bindura, Beit Bridge and Makoni in Zimbabwe have benefited from the train the trainer approaches, which bring relevancy, capacity and impact the community
Lets reach out to people and motivate them to build healthy equal relationships. Be an inspiring male role model, female role model and help create a future where men and women live free from violence and inequality, check out the tips, tools and information you can use to mentor the people around you.
By Obrien Madzivire (Bindura University)
Some hard realities of student life
For many Zimbabwean students, getting enrolled in the tertiary institution of their choice is not where the battle begins. The battle begins once they are enrolled in college as they have to fight to complete their education in spite of the obstacles that stand in their way.
Sex in exchange for good grades and food
It is now not uncommon to hear of lecturers who have engaged in sexual relations with female student with lecturers and other older men so as to ensure both their academic survival and for their sustenance. In addition to increasing their vulnerability to HIV and STIs, this current situation ironically disempowers female students when they should be on their road to empowerment.
Drugs as a form recreation
Drug abuse is rife amongst students in Zimbabwe, not only amongst those in tertiary institutions but amongst those in secondary schools as well. The use of drugs has increasingly become a form of distraction or recreation, and sometimes a coping mechanism for young people who face challenges in their lives. Drugs can impair the judgment of its users and result in them in engaging in behaviour that put themselves at risk. They can also have negative long term effects on an individual’s health.
Inaccessibility for students with disabilities
Students with disabilities face a number of challenges that are unique to them. The structures and services of many tertiary institutions are not suited to cater for their needs or create a friendly learning environment for them. There is for instance, a shortage of equipment for the visually impaired, and college buildings are not accessible to those who have challenges with their mobility. This therefore results in a learning environment which is not inclusive.
The creeping in of hopelessness
It has become common to come across media reports of students who have committed suicide. While depression and other psychological problems may sometimes not be acknowledged as serious societal issues, it is a tragedy for a young person to lose their life at their own hands. Suicides amongst students are therefore indicative of the need to solidify student support systems in Zimbabwe.
While the aforementioned issues are serious and their consequences are grave, it is very possible to turn these situations around for many students in Zimbabwe. They require collaboration from various stakeholders and a strong will to invest in this generation of young people.
Protecting our future.
Everyone has at some point in their lives learnt about the value and immense potential of the resources, be they man made or natural that their nation is endowed with and understand the significance of their contribution to development. The one resource whose value is immeasurable is the human resource. Human resources are characterized by their creativity, intelligence and ability to innovate. They are the resource that can create, realize the value of or even destroy other resources. Human resources like other resources have to undergo a process of being shaped and molded through. Human resources unlike other resources have a value that is inherent to them and have an ability to shape their own destiny.
Understanding this in the context of students in Zimbabwe is very important. Students are the embodiment of a family, society or governments investment in the future of their nation. They are part of an on- going process which results in the realisation of their potential and the development of the country. This is why ensuring that they are safe and protected, or creating an enabling environment for them to maintain their well-being is of paramount importance as failure to do so will have devastating consequences which can impact their entire generation. Good sexual and reproductive health is critical in ensuring that students are able to maximize on their potential.
Current discourses on the sexual and reproductive health of students are in many cases not positive with media reportage of increasing rates of STI infections being noted at some tertiary institutions to the tabloidization of some of the stories which highlight the risky behaviours that students engage in. Students face several challenges which include but are not limited to sexual harassment and a vulnerability to HIV infection due to some socioeconomic factors. On the other hand, there are also other discourses which acknowledge the potential that young people have to transform the economies of African countries, making reference to the “demographic dividend.” However, the conversations which emphasise the importance of harnessing the potential of the young people and students will only remain conversations if their well- being is not protected or their rights are violated in the spaces or at the point in their lives where they are being molded into future leaders. While there are commendable initiatives which have been undertaken to address these challenges more is yet to be done. More sexual and reproductive health information and more services need to be provided. Approaches which are geared towards the betterment should move beyond what is on the surface to address the interactions between students and their environment as this will have a bearing on their ability to perform all the academic and leadership duties that are expected of them.
This is therefore a call to civil society, government, and academia to take the common phrase “young people are the future” and the common notion of students being tomorrow’s leader out of the boardrooms, conferences and workshops and apply and actualize them today in campuses, schools, clinics, halls of residences and streets where students have their private but life defining interactions.