Zimbabwe Has a Paedophilic Culture
Grooming can pervade any aspect of your life because the unequal power dynamic makes exploitation and manipulation easy.
Stop calling Moana’s Mother a “Hure” for giving birth to her at fourteen.
As you probably know, the millionaire and social media influencer Ginimbi died in a car crash with Michelle ‘Moana’ Amuli. It came to light that the mom is 41, meaning she had Moana at 14 years old with her father who was about 26 years old. How did Twitter react? They called her mother a “hure/ iwule” (whore) because she “got herself pregnant” at a young age, as if she had sex by herself, because of course she became pregnant through wind pollination. I hope you can hear my facepalm through your screen. That thunder you heard during this week’s rains? Yes, that was my facepalm, because Zimbabweans disappointingly ignored that her father had sex with a minor—he committed statutory rape. Proving Zimbabwe has a paedophilic culture that normalises grown men dating/bedding young people.
Statutory rape is non-forcible sexual contact with a child below the age of consent, making him a rapist. “But Zoleka! Her mother consented to it”! Zwana lapha, Prudence, the logic is a minor can’t consent to sexual activity because they lack the maturity and judgment necessary to make a meaningful decision about sex. Imagine calling a girl a whore for being raped by a man who took advantage of her age. For heaven’s sake, she was a 14-year-old whose biggest life problem was failing her Geography test about the earth revolving around the sun, is this the person old enough to decide on sex with a man twelve years older?
He was the adult mature enough to know sex with a child isn’t okay. The burden was on him, not Moana’s mother, to make sure nothing happened between them. Why is she the whore and not the father? As far as I’m concerned, they had sex together. Zimbabwe doesn’t even have bullet trains but in your heads, Moana’s mother got herself pregnant, are we are in a sci-fi movie with the technology for her to have asexually reproduced Moana? Wow, self-impregnating teenagers: be afraid, for girls are evolving at an alarming rate!
We need to stop normalising grown men dating children—it’s exploiting their immaturity. Last year, during a workshop in March by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care in Kadoma, parliamentarians were pushing to reduce the age of consent from 16 to 12 years. 12 years. An adult having sex with a child who watches Sofia the First and Miraculous Ladybug while wearing a Hannah Montana t-shirt? A boy who still ties a towel around their neck then leaps on the bed pretending to be Superman? Where are decent MPs (Members of Parliament) manufactured because ours were made in a factory where the workers are always drunk, overworked and paid 2 bond an hour.
Even 16 years in my opinion, is a problematic age of consent given the legal age of majority is 18. Like okay… so girls are minors except when a man wants to have sex with them? Minors are not old enough to vote, not old enough to enter contracts alone, not old enough to drink alcohol but they’re old enough to have sex with adults? I prefer South Africa’s approach which allows sex between minors with a two-year age gap because no one is exploiting the other, whereas a twenty-five-year-old bedding a 17-year-old inherently has an unequal power dynamic. How is it legal for a 40-year-old to bed a 16-year-old? Khulu please, leave young girls alone and go plan your pension fund or buy your anti-balding serum.
When I say grown men, I don’t just mean balding forty-year-olds with stomachs the size of Africa, I mean people 19+ years dating high school children, and even high schoolers with a considerable age difference dating each other. In high school I knew form twos dating nineteen-year-olds or seventeen-year-olds dating 25yo men and I thought it was normal. In hindsight, that was creepy. What is a nineteen-year-old doing dating a form 2? How did we normalise upper sixes dating form ones? What is someone who just celebrated their 21st birthday doing with a girl without an O Level certificate?
I hate to be the bearer of bad news but if you’re a new adult dating a teenager, your natural habitat is the pits, and your holiday home is rock bottom.
Maybe you think I’m being too self-righteous and dramatic, but grooming isn’t just sexual exploitation. Even if the 25-year-old isn’t having sex with the 17-year-old, they are exploiting them. You can be groomed into someone’s perfect fantasy, the idealised partner they want. You can be groomed into someone’s resource, experiment or toy. You can be groomed into giving all your emotional labour, devotion and time. Groomed into thinking you owe someone taking advantage of you continuously. Grooming can pervade any aspect of your life because the unequal power dynamic makes exploitation and manipulation easy.
If you are dating adolescents, morals are a soup and you are a fork.
Grooming can happen to small kids, it could be pre-teens, teenagers—it can even happen to teens who are almost adults because a 17-year-old won’t have equal power when a 30-year-old marinates them with gifts, attention and “guidance”. Trivialising these abusive dynamics as unrelated to child grooming makes countless victims feel invalidated and unheard.
Guys, sometimes your soulmate is alcohol; stop forcing relationships with teenagers.
“But Zoleka! Girls these days act and look mature for their age! Girls want older dudes!” Wena Lovemore, girls “act mature for their age” because from a young age, we are sexualised. We are catcalled and told by men in the street our thighs and butts are nice from as young as 9. When I was 10 wearing shorts, female relatives gave me a cloth to cover my legs because “you can’t wear that in front of your uncles”. At school, my best friend was reprimanded for her shorts because there are male teachers, but if your male teachers really get turned on by girls’ knees maybe you need to fire them.
We’ve been told so many times since primary school by older guys that if we were older they’d date us—making us yearn to act and look older for their validation that we were mature enough for them to want us. We wanted older guys because our mothers say they were taught a man must always be older so you can respect him, meaning we normalise relationships with power imbalances where men can easily manipulate girls/women. The fact that so many women from the last two generations had children between 12-16 with adult men shows Zimbabwe has a paedophile culture.
I repeat, don’t force it: ponytails, forex dealing and dating teenagers.
Black girls have been told all our lives we were “fast” even when we were simply existing, as if we are responsible for the way our bodies develop or how men behave around our bodies. Ndebele custom is to sweep girls’ breasts when they start growing, to reduce them so men don’t look at them, implying a culture that sexualises young girls. Almost 1 in 3 girls in Zimbabwe are victims to child marriage, but this isn’t common knowledge, because we normalise paedophilia. Amapostori are sometimes known to marry off girls in primary school to old men—yes, I know a girl married off in grade 7.
People argue it’s “normal in the rural areas” but exploitation is not normal. I have a rural relative who became pregnant at 14 with her uncle because sex education would make her too “forward” so she didn’t know what sex was, and her uncle said all uncles did it with their nieces. Who was blamed? She was called iwule but regarding the uncle, they said that men can’t control themselves, therefore she brought the trauma upon herself. Boys will be boys, but girls will be women.
But paedophiles aren’t just men. My male friend was molested by his aunt. At 13, my friend was given a hand-job by his 18-year-old babysitter. I know many guys whose first sexual experience was in early high school with an older girl/woman. When they discuss this, they’re told they’re lucky. How is their exploitation lucky? This comes from the narrative that all boys want and enjoy sex, which invalidates male victims’ trauma.
If you’re above 19, please stop dating high schoolers and focus on buying your first bed, worrying about the rate and how expensive alcohol is. As for you, khulu, please focus on your arthritis medication and shopping for your coffin. If you’ve never said “this is beneath me,” that’s you; you are the beneath (Thembi Terry, 2020). Lastly, dear high school girl, that 20-year-old guy does not love you, just focus on break time and the quadratic formula.