Someone please tell me, what is so sexually attractive about a 6-year old child, let alone a 1-year old? Why then would a man rape such a child, if not for his ill-perception that having sex with a virgin would cure him of HIV-AIDS? That was the question I posed to a young man who had issues with a documentary I saw over the weekend. The documentary, Tapestries of Hope, which was screened by Afrikan Goddess, an organization dedicated to highlighting the accomplishments of African women, tells the story of Betty Makoni and her work to shelter girls who have been sexually abused in a town in Zimbabwe. Betty, herself a victim of rape at the age of six, provides these girls with shelter, food, education, and above all, hope – the painful events of the past should not define them. They can rise above the pain, the humiliation, and the health toll that they have to endure all their lives. Most of these girls, some as young as 1, were infected with HIV by their perpetrators.
The documentary was so moving that I had to cover my ears at a point and look away from the screen. I couldn’t take it anymore!!! How can a man be so wicked – wickedness beyond measure or comprehension?
It was after the screening that I was introduced by the event host to a young man who had questions. He introduced himself as a political science student and tried to explain that the rape of these little girls had nothing to do with the claim that it was being done for the purpose of curing HIV-positive men. He believed that branding it so was a conspiracy by the West (whoever that person or entity is) to make Zimbabwe look bad. He said the documentary should have focused on the subject of rape in general, but not the assertion, which a man in the video confessed to, that men raped little girls (virgins) to cure themselves of HIV-AIDS. He also asked if rape does not occur in the United States, and he found it hard that people make issues out of the little girls being raped in Zimbabwe. It was at this point that I asked him to tell me what at he thought was sexually attractive about a little child that would make a depraved HIV-positive man want to rape her if it were not for the belief that doing so would cure him of his ailment? I further countered that if this was not the case, why weren’t these men raping women who are mature and sexually attractive?
This is not just about rape. No, it’s about wickedness, which is rooted in the misconception that is held by some African men that the solution to their self-inflicted miseries is to sleep with a virgin. Can you blame them when the president of a Southern African country does not believe in HIV-AIDS and willingly admitted to raping an HIV-positive family friend? In his defense, he said he raped her in order to fulfill his custom – a provocatively dressed woman needed sex – and he couldn’t just stand by. She wore a mini skirt. He also said that he took a shower after the act to prevent him from contracting HIV. This is what has plagued Africa – ignorant men who are supposed to know better acting like animals. Is it any wonder that he was acquitted by a court of law? This is the bane of Africa. And we wonder why Africa is lagging behind the other continents.
The young man also brought up the case of female genital mutilation. To him, it is acceptable. It’s cultural, he said, and no one should force another to give up his customs. I couldn’t believe my ears. That came from the mouth of a well-dressed young man who claimed he was a student of political science. The West just has to stay away from issues like these, he added. So I asked him, supposing it is customary of a group of people somewhere on this planet to cut the penises of young men into two, would that sit well with him? He said yes!!!
Martin Luther King once said that injustice in one corner of the world is injustice everywhere. We can’t sit down for evil to reign forever. Let’s stand up to out-dated customary practices that debase mankind. Let’s shed light on evil practices that we are prone to call tradition. Let’s end slavery. Let’s end human trafficking. Let’s end the Trokosi system of Ghana. Let’s stand for justice! Abraham Lincoln once portrayed the US civil war as God’s punishment for the sins of slavery. Let it be known to those barbarians out there that their punishment will surely come. We don’t have to live the way people lived hundreds of years ago when knowledge of what was right or wrong was very much limited. We as a people need to be progressive and stop making excuses for abhorrent and out-dated practices. We should aspire to live within the context of today and its promises; not yesterday’s.
I do understand that when issues like these come to the fore, our first inclination is our national pride. We don’t want anyone to say anything bad about out countries. But we have to look beyond national loyalties and put ourselves in the shoes of the victims. If you were a 3-year old girl, would you want a man to rape you? Would you want to be a slave at a shrine somewhere in the Volta Region of Ghana? If you were a girl, would you want someone to circumcise you? If you were a woman, would you want to be trafficked to the United States and forced into prostitution? It is only after a deep reflection on these issues that we can stand together as one and rid this world of evil. God created a beautiful world, but we have made a mess of it.