Zim economy 'raping' female students

HARARE - The government of Zimbabwe, in the last couple of years, has fuelled the ongoing economic malaise by implementing unsound policies and failing to resolve an acute and protracted accommodation crisis in institutions of higher learning.

Unfortunately, this has affected female students more than their male counterparts.

The girl child is vulnerable, that is a known fact.

Assuming that a male student and a female student face the same challenges in this harsh economic environment is a mistake that should never be made.

While a male student may never be put in a position where he has to seriously consider exchanging sexual favours for financial gain, many female students are being put in that position daily because of the ongoing economic crisis which has rendered them incapable of buying necessities or paying astronomical fees and exorbitant rents demanded by colleges and unscrupulous landlords.

Ill-advised attempts to fix accommodation problems such as the recent relocation of students by institutions like MSU and GZU to Zvishavane and Mashava, both mining areas, have only worked to make the girl child more vulnerable.

It is no secret that mining towns are hubs of transactional sexual activities.

Placing female students in such towns, many of whom are struggling financially, and expecting them to conduct their studies without being taken advantage of is akin to throwing them into piranha-infested waters and expecting them not to be bitten.

Currently, many female students are at the mercy of lascivious small-scale miners popularly known as Gwejas in small mining towns.

In big cities, men with insatiable sexual appetites have found poor female tertiary students to be easy targets for their twisted sexual fantasies after enticing them with money.

While transactional sex must never be condoned because of its immorality, a look has to be taken at the preconditions that necessitate such behaviour. In as far as female students in Zimbabwe are concerned, it is not the simple love of money that is causing many of them to exchange sexual favours for financial gain.

It is not a huge appetite for sex that is causing them to engage in transactional sex at the heavy cost of losing their dignity.

It is not a plain disregard of their health that is causing them to sell their flesh at the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

It is the simple and plain fact that they feel that Zimbabwe’s dead economy has given them no other choice.

Due to economic hardships, very few citizens have enough income to fully fund the educational endeavours of their children.

As a result, many female students are being sent off to school with inadequate financial resources. While a great number of financially-incapacitated female students have opted to defer their studies, others feel that their education cannot be delayed. Such female students are being forced to sell their flesh in pursuit of their education.

According to the Oxford dictionary, rape is the crime, typically committed by a man, of forcing another person to have sexual intercourse with the offender against their will. Whoever came up with this definition did not see it fit to classify a situation that forces someone into having sexual intercourse against their will as a perpetrator of rape.

But I do. Zimbabwe’s dysfunctional economy is “raping” female students.

It is forcing many of them to engage in transactional sex against their wish.

Of course, the real blame in all this lies squarely with the government that has allowed citizens to sink into a quagmire of economic hardships. By allowing the deplorable situation that is currently prevailing, the government has proven beyond reasonable doubt that it does not have the capacity to better the lives of students and the generality of Zimbabweans.

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