JUSTICE For Women, an organisation fighting for the rights of women, has given government a seven-day ultimatum to bring to justice police officers allegedly abusing female political prisoners, failing which they would strip na_ked in the streets.
The organisation defined abuse in terms of prolonged detentions, abductions, beatings, and even rape of women who have been arrested while participating in anti-government demonstrations that started three months ago.
The group’s spokesperson, Coezett Chirinda, told journalists at a news conference in Harare Tuesday that women arrested during the on-going protests were being exposed to “serious physical and psychological abuse”.
She claimed that at least six of the detained women are breastfeeding mothers but the babies are out of custody—a situation which violates their reproductive health rights.
“As we speak Linda Masarira has been in illegal detention for more than 60 days. Kerina Gweshe was abducted, beaten and dumped at Harare Central Prison showing a direct link between the perpetrators and police,” said Chirinda.
“An even heinous event saw a woman in her late 60’s being abducted, tortured and forced to have sex with a young man old enough to be her grandchild.
“Beatrice Masvara could not breastfeed her child the whole of yesterday until the court ordered arrangements to be made around 7pm to bring the child for breastfeeding.”
She continued: Mandowa Manezhu was arrested, leaving behind a three-year-old son.
“The government must stop this violence against women forthwith and must ensure the perpetrators are brought to book within the next seven days. If the government fails to meet the deadline, we are going to the streets, we are going to take matters into our hands.
“We are going to match to their offices. They strip and beat us naked, if they want to see our bodies then we are going to march to their offices naked so that they really see us and we see what’s next because we are tired of this abuse.”
Chirinda said in the interim, the organisation would back their grievances with a petition to be handed-over to Home Affairs and Women Affairs ministry before the seven-day period lapses.