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Rape used as a political tool: Report

by Staff reporter
30 Sep 2020 at 07:26hrs | Views
ZIMBABWE has over the past decade recorded a rise in politically-related rape cases with perpetrators using rape as a tool to silence dissent, a recent report on gender-based violence has revealed.

The report, titled The Gender Lens, GBV and Women was launched last Friday together with other related reports by the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU), the Gender Media Connect (GMC) and the Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe (CoZ) under a programme supported by the Swedish embassy.

"Politically-motivated rape in Zimbabwe has been prevalent for the past decade and is used as a strategy to send threatening messages as well as provoke a response to the opposing side. It instils fear and quells resistance," read the report.

It cited rural women as more vulnerable than their urban counterparts.

"However, with the current trends in politically-motivated violence in Zimbabwe, urban women have become frequent targets of rape and violence as indicated in the recent case of the three MDC Alliance women in May 2020, but was also reported during the disturbances in January 2019 by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NG) Forum," the report read.

Besides rape, women also suffer abduction, arbitrary arrests, assault, intimidation, even murder with all kinds of weapons in much the same way as their male counterparts.

"Politically-motivated violence is more likely to happen during election periods. For the period 2011 to May 2020 the Armed Conflict Local Event Database (ACLED) recorded 6 121 violent events, of which 89% derive from either Zimbabwe media sources or Zimbabwe human rights groups. In fact, 68% of the recorded events come from the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum and the Zimbabwe Peace Project.

"Most violent reports do not distinguish the gender of the victims and only 164 events describe violations against women. From 2011 to 2020 the sexual violations recorded were 14%, attacks and assaults 40%, and arrests 16%. Zanu-PF supporters remain the largest group of perpetrators from 2011 to 2020. In neither period are the opposition political party supporters seen with any frequency."

The report said this showed the risks that women encounter in getting involved in politics, adding that the risks increase the more involved they become, especially if they assume leadership roles.

"The situation in Zimbabwe does not reflect its commitment to numerous international conventions and treaties, its own Constitution, laws and policies. Even if there is legislation on violence against women, little or nothing is done to protect their rights," the report said.

Source - newsday
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