Africa-Press – Malawi. The ugly face of sexual exploitation in the work place disguised as love, or consensual sex between two consenting adults in private, or female prostitution must not be entertained because it just wrong in any measure.
As a country and as a people, we must empathise with all of the women in the area 30 sexual saga. They are victims power abuse and not loose women as others want them to appear.
They wanted something that was pegged at a cost to them, except the cost was not monetary, it was their bodies, their dignity and integrity that needed to be sacrificed.
Did they have a choice to say NO? Of course, they did but these poor women were up against a manipulative man who knows his game, a man who so eager to use what he has to get what he wants. These ladies were up against the power.
They had to offer sex to someone that was wielding power over them, too much power at that, and, this person was wielding the decision-making power over who gets promoted, who gets to be sent to piece-keeping mission etc.
Now, we must not underrate and underestimate the fact that in the world of work, we all need promotions, better perks, lucrative assignments so on and so forth.
The only difference is the lengths to which each one of us may go to get such promotions, better perks, lucrative assignments and all that. I bet we may all scream here and say “hell no!
Certainly not offering my body, certainly not sex.” Well, vulnerability makes people do all kind of things. Securing that job, getting that promotion, assignments etcetera, etcetera was certainly something these women needed.
Did they have to exchange that with sex you ask? But it was in a do or die environment. A cut throat environment. Survival of the fittest measured by being the boss’s preferred prey and succumbing to his demands.
Only they were dealing with a subtle predator here. A man who had mastered his art. Made the preying appear like a real love relationship, convincing his prey that he meant well.
But his primary concern was that he was falling in love with the woman in question, and that him according them a promotion, lucrative assignment etc was just incidental to loving the women.
He was very calculating. Used his high position and decision making authority to lure the women – Used his power over the women in an exploitative and abusive manner – He was very deliberate in his actions, careless even. Thus, the real issue to be examined here is not whether all these women consented, nor the claims that some even threw themselves to him. No.
The real issue here is that of a man with an insatiable sexual need, a man with evil intentions, a man with a sickness of the mind who set out to sexualise, commodify and objectify women by using his official position and the power that this gave to him over the women.
I would bet this is a kind of a man who would use this “power over” to achieve such sinister motives in any situation he would find himself, for instance, offering a sweet or candy to a 3 year old girl in order to defile the girl, offering a higher grade to a female student in order to have sex with her, offering whatever favour etc within his control.
Just stop and imagine if this type of a man was a pastor/priest, a teacher/lecturer, a choir master or a chief, among others. Perhaps these types of men are too many amongst us.
When things such as these happen let us not trivialise these instances of sexual exploitation, reducing the whole discourse to to “but the women wanted it.” Nobody wants to be exploited.
And this man did not show any signs of a person who was going to manipulate or exploit anybody, he presented himself as an innocent sweet man who couldn’t even harm a fly but this man knew exactly what he was up to in his sleeves.
If it was only one woman or two perhaps we could have given him a benefit of doubt, but not a group of women who could fill a British Airways airbus. Let’s not invalidate the inherent exploitation in these situation by playing the “willing participants” card, let’s not normalise these situations by applauding the “sexual prowess of the male perpetrators.”
Let us stop with the victim blaming. The area 30 women were all victims of a subtle power play of those with power against those without power. They may come out as willing participants, but they were not – There was a serious issue of power imbalance here – This lies at the heart of sexual exploitation and everything else is inconsequential.
Men and Women with power over others have a great responsibility to avoid abusing this power by debasing others including through seemingly consensual sexual acts.
Our man in area 30 took calculated moves to gratify his weird sexual desires. He engaged in exploitative sexual acts. HE MUST BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE. We need to stop with the legitimisation, sanitisation and justification of the sexually exploitative acts of men such as the area 30 case.
He must be held responsible. We must send a signal out loud and clear to those men and women of power that it is not okay to exploit or manipulate those under their authority. This nonsense must stop. Area 30 and all exploitive sex pests and abusers must fall.
The author is a village headman in the northern Malawi and he is writing in his personal capacity. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily of the publisher.