A prostitute tag can be hurtful to most human beings, especially when you are not one, at least I can testify to that and relate with the pain that some female candidates contesting in the My 20 elections are going through when they are branded as prostitutes during campaign rallies.
A couple of years back, some naughty boys called me a prostitute as I walked home. When I got there, my mother could not miss the displeasure on my face; she enquired about what had gone amiss, and I narrated the incident in tears.
She listened sympathetically, and later asked if I was a prostitute. No, I wasn’t, I told her. So, she asked, do the boys’ statements in anyway change who you are? What makes one a prostitute—is it not about selling sex as opposed to what some people decide to call you?
Memories of the temporary pain and anguish that resulted from the insults the boys showered on me flooded my mind when I heard about the press conference that the NGO Gender Coordinating Network (NGO GCN) held in Blantyre where, among other things, the organisation revealed that women contestants were being subjected to foul language when they are conducting campaign rallies.
This, the organisation lamented, could hamper its efforts at ensuring 50-50 gender representation in Parliament as well as local government since the insults, some of which were classified as “unprintable,” have the potential to suppress some women who were geared to contest in the elections.
While I relate with the frustrations that emanate from insults of this nature, it would be unthinkable for an aspiring Member of Parliament or councillor to relinquish their desire of getting into the august House or representing their people at the local government level just because they have been called a prostitute by some ill-disciplined person.
It is such a petty excuse that can only spring from someone without the necessary spine of leadership because the leaders we have in Malawi and the world over have without doubt endured more serious rudeness than this on their way to the top.
Mischievous people will always attend political rallies. They may always have something unpalatable to say to contestants. Even the male folk have their own share of wayward remarks thrown at them.
Taking these insults seriously is not only time wasting, but also demeaning for the female contestants who sound more like cry babies than probable leaders.