The Semi-Naked Truth

I woke up this morning and logged onto Facebook, I saw a promotional picture of the Singer Dambisa Lunda  on the cover of an online magazine. Pregnant belly exposed and breasts covered and I thought “awww cute” then I logged out and carried on with my day. Let me preface the post by saying that I will not be posting the photo you can head over to www.ezmmagazine.com to see it.

As it turns out my nonchalant attitude about a beautiful pregnant woman on the front of a Zambian magazine was the opposite of most people’s. The conservatives and judgmental Judy’s of Zambia quickly took to Twitter and Facebook to shame the poor woman. There were many disrespectful things said about her and the photo which i shall not repeat. Instead I want to share a few positive tweets and discuss why it is that people felt uncomfortable with the photo.

A few of the tweets I agreed with were:

“Once again Zambia is the only place in the world where ‘culture’ is static and not dynamic. Re: dambisa mag cover”

2.  

“I see nothing wrong with Dambisa‘s pose.”

3.  

” In other good news I’m loving the promo pics of Dambisa for the 1st ever printed issue of coming out next month! ” 

4.  

The things Zambians are so concerned about, leave Dambisa alone! She was comfortable with her shoot, so what now?! Drama for nothing!

 

 

A friend of mine also posted a Facebook status that read: “Loving the comments on various pages over the Dambisa pics….Many are supportive n some call it sinful n unafrican….Always funny how Zambians like the whole “this is not african stance”….My thoughts, we stopped living “african” when we got colonised….Nothing we do is “african” anymore.”

This made me have an AHA moment of sorts, first of all I do think the backlash is just the deeply religious fanatics and the extreme conservatives and general “haters” reacting. Most of us are  more evolved and know that a semi nude pregnant belly photo is nothing to lose your shit over.

What struck me with the status was the “we stopped living African” part, which is so true! Think about it, women would expose their breasts and that was tradition. That was our culture, not all this covered up head to toe nonsense. As colonized Africans we have lost part of our identity and we don’t truly know what it is to be African. It is seen in the way we dress, the music we listen to and the way we speak. Across the board we are Westernized and the irony here is that in the West, Kim Kardashian can pose and expose her pregnant belly and we don’t bat an eye. The second one of our own does the same we want to bully her into submission, its nothing you haven’t seen on your DSTV or in your Elle Magazine!

I for one, am all for women expressing their beauty in whatever manner they see fit; even if it means being naked. How is it that we still have people in our society who are so backwards ? The same people judging her will wave the “Christian Nation” flag meanwhile they are having premarital sex and doing worse.  The human body and the naked one at that is not something to be ashamed of especially when done tastefully, I suggest you get off your high horses and leave Dambisa alone. The photo is tasteful, natural and beautiful and nothing to get heated up over.

 

Are We Raising a Generation of Rapists?

We are moulding our sons into rapists and making our daughters the scapegoat. I say that because when we tell our sisters, mother and daughters that the way they dress could affect whether or not they are raped; we are making them accept responsibility for being raped.

I have talked about how Swaziland has banned mini-skirts and openly stated that women and young girls who dress provocatively can face up to 6 months in jail. It is a now a criminal offense to dress provocatively, which I find ridiculous because a bare shoulder can be just as provocative as bare feet, exposed legs or cleavage.

In Swaziland, police spokesWOMAN Wendy Hleta was quoted as saying “The act of the defiler is made easy, because it would be easy to remove the half-cloth worn by the women.” Once again perpetuating rape culture by putting the blame on the victim and not the perpetrator. With people voicing such outrageous and back dated thoughts on the subject of rape is it any wonder that we are raising a generation of rapists?

Yes, that sounds dramatic but with the rape statistics of Sub-saharan African countries we need to be dramatic. South African police statistics record more than 64,000 cases a year – more than seven an hour.

Here in Zambia the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) stated that “more than ten girls are raped in a week”. I remember reading that in Zimbabwe child rape is up by 42%, UNICEF said the number of cases of rape of minors reported to police surged from 2,192 in 2003 to 3,112 in 2006 .

In Zimbabwe 15 women are being raped daily, these are just the reported cases, we all know that the shame of rape and stigma often leads people not to report it.  I don’t even have statistics on men being raped in or outside of prisons but I am sure you get the picture. Rape is not just our problem it is the continent’s problem, it is the world’s problem.

Women and children are being told that the things they wear could determine their safety, the dress they wear to a friends birthday party could be the thing that gets them raped. What they wear to gym class could provoke a violent assault, how they dress when going to the club, supermarket or anywhere public is now seen as the “catalyst” of rape. All of these ideas are uneducated, unfounded and just so bloody outrageous.

The point of this post is just to raise awareness about what we are doing to the next generation of men on this continent. We are taking away an aspect of their humanity, we are messing with their psyche by making the women the problem. We are encouraging them to rape because we are teaching them “if she wore a mini-skirt she was asking for it” Whatever happened to teaching them that NO means NO, that they should love and respect all women the way they would their mother or sister. What happened to teaching them right from wrong, to putting them in their place when they step out of line. What happened to fathers teaching their sons how to be good men? Or how to have proper relationships with women.

Guys, what the hell happened to common sense? Parents please raise your sons to be kind and compassionate non violent people. Who see the opposite sex as human and not some prize to be won or challenge or something to be defiled.

Sensationalism vs Voyeurism

 A gruesome photo of a bus crash in Northern Zambia yesterday that left 53 people dead has been making the rounds on Facebook and twitter. I happened to see it because it popped up on my Facebook timeline, at first i was not sure if it was a hoax or a reality. As I looked at it, I realized very quickly this was a photo taken at a real accident scene. I quickly closed it but not before I saw bodies strewn by the roadside and three blood soaked bodies lying on the road. 

 

I was immediately disgusted, not curious and not sad…just disgusted. I was disgusted that the photo was being passed around like a flyer. That is how I felt, I don’t expect too many people to feel the same way. For me it is more than a photo, there are PEOPLE in that photo and those people have families and loved ones. What if they recognize a family member in the photo before they are contacted properly through the authorities? I was raised to be a considerate person and a sensitive one at that, for me this goes beyond Voyeurism and speaks to our culture. 

 

Social media is always at the tip of our fingers and we use and abuse it, people tweet angry things without thinking. They share photos like the aforementioned without considering who might see it next and after that. For me the issue is slightly bigger than the photo because let us face it; a journalist or blogger or media outlet was going to post the same photo. The only difference is they would have included a story about the accident itself, it would serve as a cautionary tale regardless of the horrifying nature of the image. I feel like sometimes the words help to soften the blow or the impact of such horrible events, when there are words at least it becomes less of a spectacle and more of a report on a tragic event. Perhaps I am reaching here, but there is a certain comfort knowing the photo you are seeing was taken with the intention to report a story and not for fun or sensationalism. 

 

I know the person who reposted the photo onto my timeline has since apologized and said it was in bad taste, they have also shared that the reason they posted it was for awareness on how our local bus drivers drive recklessly. I completely agree that we in Zambia have the same problem that exists in South Africa and Kenya; there are very reckless bus/taxi drivers on our roads. It is very easy to say that people should not board the bus of a reckless driver but when your livelihood depends on it and you have no other transport you will take a chance and hope for the best. The government needs to enforce laws against the reckless driving we see everyday and we as citizens of this country need to make it known that we will not tolerate anyone endangering our lives on the road. Instead of setting up pointless roadblocks that are really only there so that the police get bribes let us focus on the real dangers. Have a constant patrol built to look for these bus drivers who have no consideration for the lives of others. 

We Need To Talk About RAPE…

I have always said I will talk about Rape, I will talk about it until something on this continent changes. Until there is a shift in the mindset of men and women in terms of rape. Rape is not just a violent act it is now a culture, one that is growing everyday. It is on the rise in Zambia, Swaziland, India and South Africa. We cannot ignore it anymore or talk about it sparingly it needs to become part of our regular dialogue with our children, friends and family. It needs to become part of the government and law enforcement’s daily dialogue if we ever hope to change things.

 

In Swaziland they recently decided that mini-skirts are the temptation when it comes to rape, so now they have banned women from wearing mini skirts and any kind of revealing clothing that will lead to rape. Any woman caught wearing rape-provoking clothing could face jail time of six months. Yes, because it is what women wear that gets them raped, its not the sick men who rape them that are the problem. It is beyond infuriating to me that in this day and age we as a society still allow the rape victims to be blamed for the acts of damaged and clearly sick individuals. 

 

A rapist is a rapist, they do not care if you are 12 years old or 82 years old, they do not care if you are in a nuns habit or in a bathing suit. Rape is Rape, we need to make it clear as women in Africa that we will not tolerate being blamed for this crime. It is up to mothers, women and men to start having an open and honest dialogue about the issue of rape. What are we teaching our young boys and men by blaming the victim? Are we not teaching them that it is okay to rape as long as the girl was wearing something provocative? 

 

We need to make it unacceptable for Rape to happen, we need to protect ourselves, our sisters, mothers and daughters. This issue is not going away and the more we put it on the back burner or issues that need to be addressed the worse it will become. We need to stop using outdated meths and schools of thought when it comes to dealing with the issue of rape. You cannot make the victim the problem or the cause of the crime.

 

Remember that Charlize Theron “REAL MEN DON’T RAPE” campaign? We need more of that, we need everyday people as well as local celebrities to take a stand against it. The more people who speak out both MEN and WOMEN the better chance we have to fight this growing rape culture. We need to integrate this subject matter into our school and university curriculums, children need to learn at a young age that Rape will not be tolerated and that it is never okay. The same way people have said we need to make compassion a subject in schools to help end bullying, we need to do the same about Rape. We need to use social media to continue to discuss this shocking phenomenon. We need to come together and fight legislation and fight for better protection and rights in our countries. If we can’t solve a problem like RAPE in 2013 then I don’t have much hope for the future generations.

 

Kayemba

 

 

 

 

Kayemba is a short film by Seya Fundafunda and as part of 16 days of activism against gender based violence I would appreciate it if you watched this film and passed it on to your friends. It is a beautiful, heartbreaking and yet powerful film.

 

 

 

HoldHandsWithMe

xoxo