Sexual extortion rife in Zimbabwe
ZIMBABWE lacks a robust corruption reporting system that provides recourse to women who fall victim to those in power who demand sex and sexual favours as payment for services rendered, a report has revealed.
According to a Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) report titled Gendered Corruption, sexual extortion — a subtle form of a corruption where those in power demand sexual favours from women in return for services — is rife in Zimbabwe.
According to the TIZ report, 45 percent of women under study said they had received requests for sexual favours to access a service while 15 percent had used sex to get employment.
“For some respondents it was fear of reprisal that stopped them from reporting whilst others cited the justice system as too masculine, hence they opted not to report.
“Even the police officers require some form of payment to help you. They may ask for transport or fuel to enable them to investigate and in the end, they also get bribed by the perpetrators.
“All the key informants who took part in the research indicated that Zimbabwe lacks a robust corruption reporting system. They also highlighted the need for a system to promote and protect whistleblowers,” reads part of the report.
Responding to the report, Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) chief executive officer Virginia Muwanigwa said although Zimbabwe has made progress in advancing gender equality through the establishment of various institutional, legal and policy frameworks, the country still ranks low on the UN gender inequality index.
“Women are the most affected by corruption due to their vulnerability as they forced to bribe officials using sex in return for services, and still become ridiculed when they try to speak up about sextortion,” Muwanigwa said.
She called upon stakeholders to prioritise the need to curb gendered corruption in Zimbabwe, adding that gendered corruption has negative impacts for social delivery.
However, sexual extortion is rarely recognised as a form of corruption, but gender activists insist that it reduces women’s access to land and markets and reinforces social and economic marginalisation.