Blackmail in Zimbabwe: Troubling Narratives of Sexuality and Human Rights
International Journal of Human Rights, Vol. 13, No. 2, pp. 345-364, 2009
21 Pages Posted: 27 Oct 2010
Date Written: April 2009
Through analysis of a challenging scenario of homosexual blackmail in Zimbabwe, this article highlights the significance of the discursive and rhetorical realm in which law operates. Drawing on historical and contemporary sexual politics in Zimbabwe, it situates the practice of blackmail within its local context and considers how the victims' respective racial and sexual identities combined with their active sexual agency to pre-empt their representation as 'innocent', and to restrict their access to legal or discursive exculpation. It shows how the ascendant narratives that emerge from the blackmail scenario obscure the victims' 'truth', render them perpetually 'guilty', and reinscribe conventional sexual hierarchies. The article uses this analysis of blackmail to illustrate how the advance of sexual rights is inhibited by a tension between our idealisation of innocence in making rights claims, and our aspiration to agency in developing sexual equality.
Keywords: Zimbabwe, blackmail, human rights, sexuality, homosexuality, race, narratives, innocence, truth, sexual hierarchies, sexual rights
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