Earlier this month, Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) released a report tagged Gender and corruption in Zimbabwe 2019, which revealed that the rising level of sextortion in the South African country is as a result of widespread corruption.
The report brought to light the relationship between gender and corruption in Zimbabwe. All of the surveys used were based on an in-depth exploration of women’s experiences in relation to corruption. It also how both components are intertwined with complex gender-based violence across social, political, economic and cultural spaces in Zimbabwe.
According to the report, more than 57 percent of women surveyed by TIZ said that they had been forced to offer sexual favours in exchange for jobs, medical care and even when seeking placements at schools for their children. One of the respondents, Nkayi said that “most organizations are led by men and when we try to seek employment they will ask for sexual favours.” She added that “If you refuse you will not get the job.”
Similarly, 57.5 percent of the respondents noted sexual favours as the new form of a non-monetary bribe that they had experienced. Most women who do not have money to pay for bribes are forced to use sex as a form of payment, therefore making sextortion a part of the bribery culture in Zimbabwe.
Although sextortion is a widespread problem, it is less likely to be prosecuted or reported than other forms of corruption. The TIZ report unveiled that cases of sextortion are not reported to the police because the security officers oftentimes require a form of payment before rendering help. The officers either ask for transport or fuel in order to carry out their investigation, but in the end, they get bribed by the perpetrators. This prevailing issue, therefore, demands the help of an organized international body.
The International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) became aware of a gendered form of corruption in 2008 and coined the term ‘sextortion’ because it distinguishes itself from other types of sexually abusive conduct and is made up of both sexual and corrupt components. IAWJ has since been dedicated to the fight against sextortion across the world through seeking mainstream sextortion in anti-corruption laws. The inclusion of sextortion in various legal frameworks is paramount because it issues similar penalties to other forms of corruption involving financial favours.
IAWJ under its regional bodies in the Philippines, Tanzania, Bosnia, and Herzegovina introduced judicial training where members of the judiciary were instructed on the statutory framework for receiving complaints and for protecting complainants in sextortion cases.
Also, In 2012 the IAWJ launched a toolkit that identified several ways to combat sextortion especially through laws like anti-corruption, sexual- harassment, and statutory rape laws. Similarly, the toolkit outlined steps victims of sextortion can take in order to address the issue in their respective countries. Victims in Zimbabwe are therefore encouraged to speak up and take advantage of this opportunity to end the rise of sextortion in the country.