Two women in Zimbabwe have received legal sentences for attempting to import sex toys in 2022, raising concerns about archaic rules about sex and sextech the southern African country.
On October 27, Shirley Tendai Chapunza, a 27 year-old university lecturer, was given a six-month prison term in the city of Bulawayo for trying to receive a parcel sent from Germany containing three sex toys. She was given the option of avoiding incarceration by paying a fine of $60,000 Zimbabwean dollars (about $95), reported Bullawayo 24.
Chapunza was found to have broken a Customs and Excise Act prohibiting the importation of “any goods which are indecent, obscene or objectionable”. As well as prohibiting the importation of sex toys to the country, Zimbabwe has banned porn.
Earlier in 2022 Ayanda Unity Mponda, 23, spent 15 days in prison after being charged with importing sex toys to sell in the capital city Harare. The country’s Customs and Excise Act states that it is illegal to import “any goods which might tend to deprave the morals of the inhabitants” of Zimbabwe.
Although some other African country’s have conservative laws with regard to sex, Bulawayo 24 said that Zimbabwe’s morality laws were “some of the most archaic in the world”. They are in stark contrast to neighbouring South Africa, where sex shops selling sextech products are commonly found near family restaurants and shops.
The newspaper noted that the two women being charged in relation to sextech import rules highlighted “the legal dangers female travellers who move with their sex toys face when entering Zimbabwe, if customs officials insist on a physical inspection of their luggage.”
As well as being described as archaic, Zimbabwe’s sextech rules seem inconsistent. In 2020 Intimate Store, billed as the country’s first “upmarket adult sex toy shop” to be officially licensed, opened in Harare.
When Intimate Store opened a spokesperson for the company said that Zimbabwe was ready to “take this leap of faith and this is an opportunity to explore a new level of intimacy and take part in the discussions that promote and advance sexual and reproductive health and rights.”