Analysis

Hell hath no fury like a Diasporian woman scorned

By Dr Masimba Mavaza

Many Zimbabwean men in the UK have had moments when their wives set them up against the law. Last week, a Zimbabwean man in Northampton was convicted of raping his 11-year-old child several times.

The crime only came out when the man was breaking up with the wife and there was an ugly war over child custody.

Most cases in England are jury system cases where there will be 12 people deciding your fate. The jury members are not lawyers. But in most cases it will be 12 white jury members against one black man.

Imagine that a friend tells you they have been sexually assaulted. What do you do?

Your first reaction would, I hope, be sympathetic. You would not pepper them with questions: what were they wearing, what were they drinking, what were they thinking? You’d believe them.

The idea of women “crying rape” exists everywhere. But why? In real life, false allegations of rape are incredibly rare. But in the UK, many Zimbabwean men have been sent to prison over rape allegations by their own wives.

A shy call to 999 on a Monday morning that leads to the slow sirens and flashing blue lights of police arresting her ex at work, an officer shielding his head as he falls into the car. Children crying as they see their father being led away in handcuffs. All this because the love has grown cold.

A senior English judge has said it “beggars belief” that a woman would invent 15 rapes and sexual assaults just to claim victim compensation, as a court rejected an appeal to clear her name.

Jemma Beale, 27, was described as a “serial liar”, she was jailed for 10 years in 2017 after her lies resulted in an innocent man serving a two-year prison term and the police spending more than £250 000 investigating her allegations.

She has had over 10 complaints against Zimbabwean men, all being rape.

The former chief justice of England in the 17th century said of rape accusations: “It must be remembered … that it is an accusation easily to be made and hard to be proved, and harder to be defended by the party accused, though never so innocent.”

And he ruled that a man simply cannot be guilty of raping his wife.

This became known as Hale’s Rule. But this law has since been changed. A married man can be guilty of raping his wife. This is the law that Zimbabwean women in the UK have taken advantage of against their men.

Divorce in the UK has become a horrible business.It’s a story we know by heart. One that’s been acted out for us under stage lighting, read out loud.

In the Bible, Potiphar’s wife accuses the slave Joseph of raping her after he refuses her advances.

Now imagine being a husband and your wife tells the police in your presence that you have raped her and your 11-year-old child too

Can you imagine the shock, the disbelief and the pain.In front of you is a police officer whosees you as a monster, a killer, a rapist and pedophile.

A wife and a child making a claim of sexual harassment against theie father and the husband. The police do not ask if there is evidence to back up their version of events.

The police will never ask about corroboration: letters, answering-machine messages, witnesses, emails, photographs, dates, times, no.

They just arrest you and drag you straight to the jail. The police never test the strength of the allegations, the omissions, the contradictions, etc.

Women in divorce cases have made men doubt the love of a woman.

“You remember the journalist’s maxim, ‘if your mother says she loves you, make her prove it’. You do not simply “believe women.”

It’s a trope that exists because it’s powerful – it moves on stories and confuses the reader, and builds sympathy in a raw and painful way.It’s a plot device that works, but one that should be questioned.

Over 50 Zimbabwean men in the UK have been imprisoned for rape cases they did not commit.The only evidence most Zimbabweans have been imprisoned for rape is the fact that they are black men.

The police always accept the fact that a woman has cried rape then she never wanted to be raped.

A good example is this quote from Julia: “No one ever thinks: maybe the murder victim wanted to die, maybe it was a consensual death.” And while TV’s “murder is bad” message remains, it perpetuates an idea that rape can be complicated. That women can also lie.

When real occasions of false allegations are published, they’re news for the same reasons – they’re lurid and exciting, and they make you feel something. But they’re news because they are so rare.

That’s because “believe women” isn’t just a terrible slogan for the movements of women, it is a trap. The mantra began as an attempt to redress the poor treatment of those who come forward over abuse, and the feminists who adopted it had good intentions, but its catchiness disguised its weakness.

The phrase is too reductive, too essentialist, too open to misinterpretation.

Lovemore Muzadzi, a Zimbabwean man serving a 10-year sentence for rape, cried as he narrates his story.

“I was going through a divorce with my wife. One morning while I was in bed, I saw two police officers standing by my bed side. They told me that I was under arrest for rape and sexual abuse,” said Muzadzi.

“I asked who was the person I might have raped and I was told it was my step-daughter. I was so sure it was a joke and indeed I was wrong. I was bundled in a car and taken to the police station.

“At the station, I was subjected to abuse humiliation threats and everything. I was then given a free lawyer. They call them legal aid lawyers. The lawyer did not have time. He just told me that I needed to admit to the abuse, then the police will let me go home.

“I did not think, I just took the deal I was tired. I just trusted the lawyer. Within a week I was before a judge. A lot of things were said between the judge and my lawyer, then I was informed that I had been convicted and would be serving.

“By the time I realised what was happened, I was already a convict. I have tried to appeal, but nobody was willing to take up my case.”

Many men are in prison because they cannot defend themselves.

In the years, scores of Zimbabwean women have come forward with experiences of sexual harassment, assault and rape.

There have been “cancellations”, job losses and convictions. There have also been edge cases, uncomfortable grey areas, and men who have said their lives were ruined by nebulous allegations.

The law on rape was intended to capture an undeniable truth: sexual harassment and sexual assault are so endemic in society.

False allegations do exist, and in the foreign land they are not thoroughly investigated.

Men are more likely to be falsely accused of rape than go through a peaceful divorce.

When women tell the police that there is a problem with sexual aggression in their marriages, they are taken seriously. Men are doubted, and this has become a weapon against men in the diaspora.

With the social media, their unverified cases are spread all over and their dignity goes down the drain.

The social media specialises in perpetuating this narrative, with stories such as: “A beast convicted of rape”.

Headlines such as “Wicked women who cried rape trapped by three-in-bed photos” reveal women to be the scheming harridans they always suspected, harridans who use their sexuality as a weapon, whose power lies solely in their body.

These were real cases of false allegations, but the idea that it is a widespread problem, a weapon women use, is a reality and many men are languishing in prison because of false allegations.

In the United Kingdom, a recent Crown Prosecution Service study found that the cultural idea that false rape allegations are prevalent is itself true.

But they are hardly prosecuted.

The study reports that over a 17-month period there were 5 651 prosecutions for rape, but only 35 for false rape allegations.

And in the cases involving people under 18, almost 40 percent of the claims originated with their parents, which reduces the number of false allegations from “victims” even more.

The recent Steubenville rape trial, where an unconscious teenager’s assault was recorded and celebrated by bystanders had a postscript: the arrest of two girls who threatened the victim after the guilty verdict came down.

It brought a number of disturbing truths to the surface, including the fact that, when the world is not on the side of the victim, other women will play along with rape culture in order to feel safe.

This is one of the effects of perpetuating the reality that women lie about rape.

Those who are not happy with divorce use their womanly believed effective weapon to destroy the man who has tempered with their hearts.

The broad truth, however, tells us nothing about the merits of any individual case.

We are not saying all women in the UK are lying, no, most of them tell the truth and most play with the truth.

It is evil for anyone to embellish a story in order to fix someone.

As a rallying cry, women in the UK group cases together in a deeply unhelpful way.

In a court of law, there are grades of offence, and sliding penalties. In the court of public opinion, we talk about rape and a hand on the knee in the same breath.

Each new case tends to be read through other, typically unilluminating, reference points.

But all the cases are not the same, neither in their details nor how they came to light. Many women go to the social media and try hard to corroborate their original allegation.

The startling findings across various provinces and multi-country studies on sexual violence unequivocally point to what the World Health Organization describes as a “pervasive … global public health problem of epidemic proportions”.

In the first study of aggregated global and regional prevalence estimates for intimate partner and non-intimate partner sexual violence, the WHO (2013) found that overall 35 percent of women worldwide reported having experienced either physical or sexual violence by a partner, or sexual violence by a friend, family member, acquaintance or stranger.

Police data consistently show that while men report experiencing more physical, non-sexual violence than women, women continue to represent the majority of victims of sexual violence, while perpetrators are overwhelmingly, although not exclusively, male.

Young women continue to be at highest risk of experiencing sexual violence, and most likely at the hands of a known man, such as a boyfriend, friend or acquaintance, rather than at the hands of a stranger.

It is such a research which makes people side with a woman, but fail to see the abuse of this system.

More Zimbabwean men are being dragged from their houses and their work places straight to prison.

This is all because the divorce has gone wrong. ■

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