Blackmail in Zimbabwe: troubling narratives of sexuality and human rights

Phillips, O. 2009. Blackmail in Zimbabwe: troubling narratives of sexuality and human rights. International Journal of Human Rights. 13 (2/3), pp. 345-364.

TitleBlackmail in Zimbabwe: troubling narratives of sexuality and human rights
AuthorsPhillips, O.
Abstract

Through analysis of a challenging scenario of blackmail of a gay man in Zimbabwe, this paper 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 active sexual agency of the victims, combined with their respective racial and sexual identities, pre-empted their representation as 'innocent', and restricted 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. This paper illustrates 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.

KeywordsBlackmail, Zimbabwe, sexual politics
JournalInternational Journal of Human Rights
Journal citation13 (2/3), pp. 345-364
ISSN1364-2987
YearApr 2009
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1080/13642980902758192
Publication dates
PublishedApr 2009

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