On 11 0ctober the headlines in most Zimbabwean newspapers were blazing with the title “Dozens storm female ‘rapists’ police station.” These headlines followed the arrest of three women suspected of raping men based on the 31 condoms filled with semen that police allegedly found in their vehicle.
Since these women’s arrest the police has had to ward off mobs trying to get a ‘glimpse’ of these ‘monsters’ with others eager to mete out street justice because these women are ‘evil’ beyond imagination. The police has gone to great lengths to publicise mere suspects and the media has sensationalised the whole case.
Every day 3 year olds are raped. Young women are molested. Old women are raped some for political reasons by men young enough to be their grandchildren. Fathers rape their daughters, uncles-nieces, brothers-sisters and strangers force themselves upon women yet not one of these men has been paraded to the whole nation so others could identify them as possible rapists.
Has the rape of women become so normal that it does not shock people anymore? Is this case much more of a priority because the victims are men? Sexual abuse against men is a crime and is a violation of their human rights to the same extent that it is the same when committed against women.
This case is reflective of the investigative incompetence of the police in Zimbabwe. It is also telling of the extent to which the rape of women has been normalized yet it is the most abnormal thing that men do. For newspapers to sell the headlines need to show the ‘oh-so-shocking’ tales of men getting raped because the stories of women simply do not catch the eye of the reader. This is not only depraved but quite saddening.
The women are now charged with seventeen counts of aggravated assault because rape as a crime only applies with regard to women and not men in Zimbabwean law. These women deserve to be treated with dignity. As suspects to a crime they must be presumed innocent until a properly constituted court of law finds them guilty. They deserve a fair trial. In this case their guilt can only be proven if one of the complainants who came forward’s DNA sample matches one of the samples of semen that the police is said to have. The semen remains the only legitimate piece of evidence that could link the women to any crime. In the absence of such a match the state has no case against these women and any outcome without such evidence would be a travesty of justice.