I must be the worst “guest blogger” ever here at Concurring Opinions. I planned to be a robust commentator, but a little thing called a deanship happened (CUNY Law) and, pow, my life changed. My duties online assumed a much lower priority as my work life got way, way, in the way. The only good news is that Miriam Cherry and Melissa Waters took up the slack. (What’s up with M-named female guest bloggers?)
Anyway, I must quit while I’m behind. But I’ll leave you with a couple reflections on the Zuma rape case, however. For those of you who haven’t been following the trial, Jacob Zuma, 64, former deputy president to Thabo Mbeki in South Africa, and former front runner to succeed him, was charged with rape by a 31-year-old HIV-positive AIDS activist.
Once his government’s leading official on HIV issues, Zuma said that he believed his risk of contracting HIV was small because he took a shower after having sex with her. More than one in eight adults is HIV positive in South Africa.
Zuma’s defense at trial focused on the sexual and mental history of the accuser. Zuma himself took the stand and testified that the woman signaled to him her desire to have sex by wearing a skirt and crossing her legs in front of him. According to the N. Y. Times on Apr. 10, 2006:
Indeed, he said, he was actually obligated to have sex. His accuser was aroused, he said, and ‘in the Zulu culture, you cannot just leave a woman if she is ready.’ To deny her sex, he said, would be tantamount to rape.
On Monday, Zuma was acquitted. The destructive messages that Zuma himself has sent about women, HIV, Zulu culture, and sexuality are so wrong, particularly for South Africa, a country with nearly four times the reported rape rate of the United States. Zuma, a widely revered hero of the anti-apartheid struggle, is now a champion of sexism under the banner of culture.