Discrimination can be deadly

Much as I hate to be the bearer of bad news, today I stumbled upon a really sad story from Zambia in my inbox. It’s the kind of story that really should hammer home just how badly the prejudices against our people can needlessly destroy lives. In this case the life of an 18 year old man who committed suicide after his family discovered that he was having a relationship with his cousin.

AN 18-YEAR-OLD boy of Chipulula village in Isoka district has allegedly committed suicide after the community learnt that he was allegedly having sex with his 16-year-old cousin.

Now, I wasn’t sure of the age of consent in Zambia, but wikipedia had this to say:

A girl under the age of fourteen (14) cannot consent to sexual intercourse under criminal law. However, under Statutory Law, according to the Girls and Women Protection Act, a girl under the age of sixteen (16) can not in any way consent to sexual intercourse.

Okay, so that clears that up, his cousin was over the age of consent in their country, and they were of similar age. This makes it highly unlikely that any form of coercion or abuse was taking place in their relationship. The article appears to indicate that this was a mutually consenting relationship.

Okay let’s continue with this short article:

Muchinga Province commissioner of police Auxensio Daka said in an interview yesterday that the boy’s father, a 60-year-old whose identity has been withheld, reported to police that the body of his son was found hanging in a tree in a nearby bush.

Can you imagine finding the body of any of your relatives in this condition? Even if he had done something terrible this would still be a tragic shock, but in reality he had not done anything wrong.

Mr Daka said the boy went missing last Sunday around 19:00 hours.
This was after the girl’s father got information that his daughter was “sleeping” with the boy and rebuked her for the shameful act.
“This upset the deceased, who could not bear the shame in the community,” Mr Daka said.

Translation: He killed himself because of the reaction of his community. Think about that for a moment, he lost his life because of other peoples irrational and unreasonable prejudice. This is a true tragedy. This highlights exactly the sort of thing that our community wants to bring an end to. Why should any human being be forced to feel such shame that they kill themselves all because of who they fell in love with? In truth this sort of thing should never happen.

It’s worth noting that cousin relationships, even first cousins, are permitted in many countries and are allowed to marry. If anybody needs to feel ashamed it is the community who drove him to kill himself with their prejudiced attitudes.