FIRST Lady Grace Mugabe’s statement that women wearing miniskirts cannot blame anyone if they are raped has been condemned as irresponsible.
Grace told a Zanu PF rally in Mberengwa on Friday that miniskirts were a sign of moral decadence.
She said women should wear long dresses like she did or put on trousers to avoid being raped.
Fungisai Sithole from Harare said the statements were irresponsible as they, in a way, justified sexual violation of women.
“No one deserves to be raped for whatever reason or [under whatever] circumstances,” she said.
“Her comments are diversionary, yet we have ministers from her party Zanu PF who go around distributing sex-enhancing drugs.
“The danger is that after some people take these drugs, they can be prone to rape.
“The real issue that the First Lady should talk about is the economy, and not miniskirts.
“It is surprising to see a mother who cannot stand by her daughters.”
Women’s Affairs minister Nyasha Chikwinya last month allegedly distributed sex-enhancing pills at a Zanu PF event in Gokwe.
Chikwinya has since denied the allegations.
Harare lawyer Nqobile Munzara said Grace’s comments betrayed her ignorance as Zimbabwean fashion was an infusion of many cultures.
“A 2015 woman can express herself in many ways: in how she dresses, choosing from trendy print outfits to those outfits seen on the runways of the Paris or London or New York Fashion Week,” she said.
“Once dressed, a woman does it for herself, whether she is in her teens, 20s or 50s.
“Those men who make excuses for raping women are degenerates in themselves.
“Hiding behind a woman’s dressing is not only barbaric, but cruel and out of touch with societal norms.”
James Katso from Bulawayo described the First Lady’s statements as “disrespectful to women and their rights”.
“The Constitution protects the rights of everyone, including women’s rights to wear as they please,” he said.
“Men also have their rights to walk the streets without their tops or shirts.
“The First Lady must have learnt from the recent judicial ruling that imposed severe punishment to overzealous touts that stripped naked a woman in the streets of Harare, that women have rights.”
A number of women rights activists who spoke on condition of anonymity said the remarks were “dangerous” and could lead to violence against women.
Zimbabweans also took to social media to express their outrage over the statements.
Grace’s disapproval of miniskirts is well-known; last year she expressed her disgust that then vice-president, Joice Mujuru had (so the First Lady said) worn a short skirt.
“Victim blaming perpetuates the problem,” tweeted @mtchikawa on Friday, complaining that the First Lady was “offside”.
“I wonder where she got the empirical evidence to support this claim!!” said @ArtherChatora.
Said @LynnBlaze: “Leaders excusing rape are part of the problem.”
The mother-of-four’s comments are in contrast to those of her husband, President Robert Mugabe, who two months ago said his government was “seriously” considering castrating rapists.
“Don’t say Mr Mugabe is becoming cruel because we want to protect our women. So men, take care,” the 91-year-old told MPs during a luncheon to mark the opening of Parliament.