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At first I couldn’t understand why these beautiful women with great bodies were going around dressed in outfits that made them look homeless. They kept saying to me that they didn’t want to be sexy or attract attention. I didn’t really get that, because I think if I look good on the outside, I’ll feel good on the inside. And let’s be honest, some people can’t help but look sexy, especially if they are well put together. It’s not even about having to show any skin, but if you have a good body and your clothes fit you well, and you carry yourself with confidence and class, someone will think you’re sexy right?

I didn’t really get what the big deal was until I went on a date last week. It would be an understatement to say the guy was easy on the eyes – you could look at this guy for ours and be in awe, he is in short an adonis. What started out well enough went horribly wrong when it soon be came clear that he was more interested in getting into my pants than getting into my mind (and initially I had thought he just wanted to pick my brains as we are in the same line of work).

By the end of the date I was pretty peeved off. It’s always flattering to have someone be attracted to you, but it is frustrating when all they actually see is T&A. In fact when I remarked that it would be nice to date someone who didn’t want to have sex with me, he’s snorted, ‘with that body? good luck!’. And it dawned on me then and there why the women I’d previously mentioned decided to play down their God-given assets.

I really try not to over-analysis every situation – but let’s be honest, I’m a woman, of course I do! – I couldn’t help but wonder if this is why a lot of women in Zambia end up in situations they don’t want to be. 1 in 5 women in Zambia report having experienced sexual violence in their lives. And this is probably just the more obvious sexual violence cases. I wonder how many people think of reporting coercion. It’s such a subtle form but when you feel you have to have sex with someone even when you don’t want to, it’s never a good idea. But I digress.

I hope one day men, especially in Africa, learn to respect a woman – whether she’s saying no or yes. Because that’s the other side of the coin. If I’d met this fine man and was sexually attracted to him, then it would still have been a problem having sex with him on the first night – as a woman, either way you’re screwed (no pun intended).

Sometimes I wish I lived on a deserted island, where nothing is that complicated. Or I wish people would understand that I simply don’t care about what other people think, because either way, if people don’t understand you, they will always have an opinion of you, so why get worked up about it? Aaaah because society isn’t that simple. So back to desert island it is.

I was having a conversation with a woman about my age and was shocked to learn that she was sexually assaulted by a family member as a young teenager. I was shocked because I seem to be having this conversation a lot, different women talking about sexual assaults that have happened in their lives. It’s shocking how many woman have had this experience and kept quiet about it.

Next week marks the 100th International Women’s Day, yet there’s still so much us women go through that still isn’t properly regarded or addressed. Sexual violence is one of the most brutal attacks that a woman can face that causes years of pain and damage to the woman, sometimes in ways that even she doesn’t recognise. Yet nothing is really done to encourage women to speak out about it, deal with it and bring their attackers to justice.

Something has to be said about how we value, or don’t as the case may be, women. And when it’s black women, even worse. Somehow I don’t think the world would turn a blind eye if it was masses of white men (ok women, but definitely not if it was white men) getting raped daily in the Congo.

This speaks volumes of the strength of women, but why should women have to carry this pain? African women seem to have it worse. Men just seem to assume that women are nothing more than property, or something to control and do with as they please. There is definitely need to get both men and women to value and respect a woman.

I’m obviously not saying that all African men are like that, but I know too many women (African) who have suffered some type of sexual abuse (and sometimes abuse generally) to not question the cultural nature of it.

I’m glad that organisations like Unicef are developing campaigns like Brothers for Life to try and address some of these issues of what an African man should be like, but unless it’s sustained and has a serious investment behind it, it won’t really make that much of an impact. Trying to change the fabric of someone’s being is not a small feat or a job that can be done overnight.

But we also have to start telling the stories of women, and really bringing them to the forefront. I hope UN Women takes the challenge seriously, and really addresses the plight of women globally. This can’t keep happening to generations of women coming up in this world.