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Reflections on the portrayal of women in rape cases in Zimbabwe : the gumbura case

Author: 
Elizabeth Farisai Hove
Subject Area: 
Social Sciences and Humanities
Abstract: 

The trials of well- known figures in society always attract media publicity; the trials of O. J Simpson in the United States and recently that of Oscar Pistorius in South Africa can be cited as examples. Even more interesting are the trials of well known ‘men of God’ be it pastors, evangelists, bishop or whichever title is used. In Zimbabwe well-known church leader, Pastor Robert Martin Gumbura was convicted of rape and sentenced to forty years in jail in February 2014. His trial attracted a lot of media attention and he soon became a household name, and not only he but his congregation and all connected with him. In all of these cases the role of the media has come under scrutiny. Be it murder or rape, women are usually the victims or are they? Are they the victims, villains or victors? The Gumbura case in 2014 in Zimbabwe will be used as a case study. The case raised all these questions and his eleven wives, other church female churchgoers and any women associated with the pastor soon became part of the spotlight. Comments and speculations on their lifestyle and relations became quite commonplace in the mainstream media and social media. Even the victims of rape were not spared on these platforms. The dynamics of gender and the media became central during this trial. This paper reflects upon the portrayal of women in rape cases by the media. Focus was mainly on but not confined to two leading national papers in Zimbabwe, The Herald and Newsday. Social media platforms such as Whatsapp and Facebook were also referred to. The period under study was from October 2013 until February 2014 when the pastor was convicted.

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