SEXTORTION is on the rise in Zimbabwe as women are forced to bribe officials using sex in return for services, Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) has revealed.
This is a subtle form of a corruption were those in power demand sex and sexual favours from women as payment for services rendered.
Women needing those services, are forced to relent.
In an interview with CITE, TIZ programmes manager, Farai Mutondoro said corruption had a negative impact on gender relations, as women bore the brunt of maladministration
“Over the past five years that we have been implementing various projects we have come to the realisation that women are affected by corruption in different ways from men,” he said.
“Women are hard hit by corruption and are the greatest losers, as they are forced to engage in sex and provide sexual favours as a currency of trade”.
TIZ said they have been collecting data from mobile clinics and through research.
“Women are the most affected in their different socio economic spaces in Zimbabwe and sextortion has received less attention unlike illicit land deals or police corruption. We have heard cases in Mutare where cross border traders traveling to Mozambique use sex to smuggle second hand clothes across the border. The women weigh the risk and gain factor of such as they have to fend for their families,” Mutondoro said.
“We also interacted with a youth in corruption baseline study 2014 were in order for female students to obtain a high pass mark in universities they are forced to trade sex for marks with their male lecturers giving rise to the term sexually transmitted degrees”.
In most cases, women do not report sextortion because structural disincentive disallows them to come forward and report, fearing social label and stigmatisation in case they are labelled prostitutes.
“In some cases some of the victims are married and are afraid of divorces,” said the TIZ programmes manager.
According to TIZ, corruption takes place in many forms but usually requires money for bribery, which women mostly lack unlike men.
“If you do any study today you discover that more men bribe than women, the reason is simple men have means and access to pay of the bribery transaction. By virtue of bribing, men have access to key economic resources such as land or mining claims,” he explained.
“If women choose to bribe, normatively they are forced to bribe use sex or sexual favours. This is an extreme form of unfairness and when women don’t confirm to use sex or sexual favours they are denied access to key social economic resources and as such this is the context though which sextortion occurs in Zimbabwe”.
In order to raise awareness, TIZ is spearheading a campaign, calling for the effective development and implementation of a national anti-corruption strategy that will prioritise curbing gendered corruption.
“We are saying all stakeholders should prioritise the need to curb gendered corruption in Zimbabwe. Gendered corruption is not only limited to sextortion but has negative impacts for social delivery. Women who consist a higher population are the ones who depend more on public social services yet corruption tends to divert and deny them broader public access to such facilities,” said the programmes manager.