Saturday, 24 March 2012

Stop the Commodification of Women

24 March 2012

The Committee of the Peoples Charter (CPC) notes with great dismay a reported and unfortunate incident in which a male drummer was ‘rewarded’ with a wife for his artistic exploits in Hurungwe. This unfortunate exchange of a human being in return for artistic performance was reported in the Newsday of 24 March 2012.

It is the CPCs firm view that Zimbabwean society should never tolerate the objectification or commodification of our country’s female citizens. This is regardless of whether it was a cultural practice of the past or even of present day communities. No culture or religion that exists in contemporary Zimbabwean society must be permitted to treat women as commodities for exchange. 

Even where the woman consented to such an inhumane transaction, it cannot be viewed as an honest process since it goes against the spirit and letter of the democratic principle that all men and women are equal before the law and in society.

Given that Zimbabwean society is conscious of the history of exploitation in the colonial era where the forced labour system of ‘chibaro’ was utilized with impunity, this reported exchange of a human being for a service is distastefully reminiscent of such oppression. 

Further still, it is a sad reminder of the general practices of the tragic ‘African slave trade’ where powerful chiefs exploited their own citizens and sold them to European and Arabic slave traders in return for trinkets and cheap alcohol.

The CPC calls upon the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to urgently act to redress this unfortunate development. The reparative action must include advising the families concerned that it is undemocratic and against moral norms and values to trade human beings in return for a commodity or service. Further to this, the relevant local authority must make it clear that such exchanges are patently criminal and similar to those of human trafficking.

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