Cherie Blair under fire for claiming most African women's first sexual experience is rape - Evewoman
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‘Most African ladies first sexual experience is rape’ says Cherie Blair

Cherie Blair (Courtesy)

Cherie Blair has been criticized for and reinforcing stereotypes by telling school children during a talk that “most African ladies’ first sexual experience is rape”.

The 64-year-old wife of the former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, made the remarks on March 20, 2019 during a speech about women and leadership at Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School in London, to an audience of about 100 people.

One of the attendees said, “No one seemed to react and I was shocked because I felt like she was in a position of authority and should take responsibility for saying things like that without any evidence to support it.”

Cherie’s remarks prompted a response from the Labour MP for Newcastle upon Tyne Central, Chi Onwurah, who chairs the All-party Parliamentary Group for Africa. “Ms Blair should enable African women to speak for themselves instead of usurping their voice and their experience,” she said.

Chi Onwurah further suggested that Cherie should pay for fares and visas for African women to come to the UK and speak for themselves and “undo the insult and injury” of her comments.

“Between the ages of 15 and 49, 43 per cent of women have reported having experienced gender-based violence, including sexual violence or abuse. It’s not all or a majority but a large number … It’s not a unique phenomenon to Africa but it is widespread and that must be acknowledged,” said Judy Gitau Nkuranga, the regional coordinator for Africa at Equality Now.

Blair, who is also a barrister and women’s rights campaigner, has since responded saying that her comment was in response to a question about African girls "missing out on their education for a variety of reasons."

"In that context I said that for the vast majority of young girls – who are often 12-, 13-, 14-year-olds – their first experience of sex was rape," she added, before sharing findings from a 2002 study by the World Health Organization (WHO) to defend her claim.

"It was not my intent to offend or undermine anyone with my comments, and I would welcome more recent stats that showed these findings are outdated,” she said. "But the sad truth is that too many young African girls continue to experience sexual assault, become pregnant and in consequence fall out of education. I believe it's important to shed light on this, as the role of education is crucial to empower girls and the importance of investing in young people cannot be overstated."

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Evewoman.co.ke

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