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From vaginas to pap smears: Zimbabwe women blog

Zimbabwean women make the internet a liberated zone to blog about formerly taboo subjects.
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Zimbabwean women are asserting their right to be heard. Some Zimbabwean women are using the internet to blog about formerly taboo topics. Here members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Woza) demonstrate on the streets of Harare on Valentine's Day to urge better conditions for women. (Stringer//AFP/Getty Images)

Can a vagina talk? In Zimbabwe?

One Zimbabwean woman is asserting that the female sex organ should be heard in a blog entitled "Giving the vagina a voice."

Zimbabwe's women are confronted with a paradox — they are well educated and articulate and professional yet they find themselves continually battling a strongly male chauvinistic society. And they are also battling the country's ongoing political and economic crisis.

Although a few Zimbabwean women have risen in politics, such as Vice President Joice Mujuru in President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe who is from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change, most women have been restricted to the "Women's League" in which they wear cloth emblazoned with Mugabe's portrait and they dance at rallies and major events. No wonder they are derisively referred to as "Mugabe's wives."

The incredibly persistent group, Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Woza), is just about the only group to successfully organize street protests against the Mugabe regime. Year after year they march on Valentine's Day and Mother's Day and at other times to demonstrate for an end to violence against women, respect for human rights and better economic conditions. Woza leader Jenni Williams has been jailed dozens of times and faced violence and harassment. Other Woza members have been jailed with their babies and been beaten by police. Yet they keep organizing demonstrations. Woza deserves the international awards they have received. 

Zimbabwean women are now using the internet to voice their liberating views. GlobalVoices recently highlighted three lively blogs from Zimbabwean women. 

Delta Ndou has gained cyber-fame by blogging about topics ranging from marriage, sex and women picking themselves up from cheating husbands.

She urges Zimbabwean women to reject ingrained shyness and modesty and to go a medical clinics to have pap smear tests to guard against cervical cancer: "I mean if women can sit through a 5 hour hair-braiding session; and the time we sacrifice towards looking good in salons — we can actually spare a few hours for our cervixes to get inspected. For the record, having done the pap-smear; I am not expected to show up for another one until after 2 years so the convenience and peace of mind was worth the experience. Do yourself a favor … if it means wearing a disguise, traveling to another city where no one knows you or whatever — get a pap-smear."

Fellow Zimbabwean blogger Fungai Machirori is even more outspoken on women's issues. For instance she does a Zimbabwean take on the "Vagina Monologues" by writing against genital mutilation in a blog titled "Giving the vagina a voice": "What does a ‘normal’ vagina look like?

This might be a startling question for you, but when you really think about it, it is quite valid.

They come in all shapes and colours, but we never dare investigate …

Unlike men who know about average inches and centimetres for their appendages, we women don’t really know much about our sexual organs …

We women rarely look at our own vaginas, let alone anyone else’s – so how should we know?! Unlike men who have to interact with their penises each time they urinate or change their underwear, we women hardly ever pay attention to our vaginas. Besides, it’s not like it’s easy to get them in full view anyway. Mirrors and strange positions are required and this just adds to the awkwardness of trying to become knowledgebale about your own body.

And sadly, the only time many young women become aware about the appearance of the vagina is when they are forced to alter it from its own natural state."

Another cool female Zimbabwean blogger is Shonavixen who has just embarked on a 30 day challenge to post every day. Go sister!

On Facebook, the Makhox Women's League has a fun, lively discourse — and not just in English, there are lots of comments in Ndebele.

These are Zimbabwean women's voices who will not be silenced and who are leading Zimbabwe to a new liberated sphere. sex-zimbabwe-women-health-blog