Zimbabwe: Rights Groups Demand Probe Into Abuse of Women By State Agents

By Veneranda Langa

WOMEN rights groups have urged the Zimbabwe Gender Commission and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to investigate cases of alleged state-sponsored abuse of women.

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Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ), a representative of non-partisan women’s rights groups, said on Friday there was need for government to urgently foster a state of peace and security and bring to the centre of the agenda the rights and protection of women.

This follows recent media reports of women becoming victims of civil unrest in the country. Horrid pictures of women severely injured on their backsides after being beaten by the police during a National Electoral Reform Agenda protest in Glen View have gone viral on social media.

In the past, female vendors have also complained of harassment by law enforcement agents.

“We insist on a Zimbabwe where women are free from violence and are able to enjoy their human rights,” WCoZ said in a statement.

“The Gender Commission, Human Rights Commission and the Ministry of Home Affairs must be seized with this matter in light of their respective mandates, and government must respect, promote and fulfil citizen rights to freedom of assembly and association, and freedom to demonstrate and petition.”

WCoZ said the obtaining economic problems facing the country had a serious impact on women in particular.

“Poverty wears a woman’s face, and we call on our government to urgently foster a state of peace and security in the country through constructive engagement that brings women to the centre of the peace agenda.”

They also demanded decisive action to be taken against any person, institution or authority, whether state or non-state that were engaged in perpetrating violence and violation of the rights of citizens.

“Women in Zimbabwe continue to face all forms of violence in the private and public spaces. We are alarmed by the rising patterns and levels of violence in both spaces. In the advent of citizens peacefully expressing their constitutional rights to freedom of assembly in terms of section 58 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, or their freedom to demonstrate and petition in line with section 59 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, we condemn in the strongest terms any form of brutality or excessive use of force by the State,” the grouping said.

“On the other hand, we also strongly condemn any form of lawlessness and or violence perpetrated by any sector of our society; it inevitably negatively impacts on women’s lives in a myriad of ways.”

WCoZ said violence perpetrated by state and non-state actors shrank the democratic space for women.

Source: allafrica.com

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