Justice for women and girls suffering sexual assault

Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD) has noted with apprehension and concern, disconcerting media reports alleging that girls and women have been sexually assaulted by members of the “security forces” across Bulawayo and Harare Townships.

In the event that these reports are confirmed, WILD condemns the arbitrary arrest and acts of sexual violence on girls and women. These media reports precede Zimbabwe’s political unrest dubbed #ZimbabweShutDown that erupted since the 14th of January 2019. It has been noted that protests have led to sexual assault of women in their homes. Sexual violence is a recognized global public health and human rights problem and is one of the most severe forms of violations of human dignity.

The violation of women and girls’ constitutional rights is uncalled for and those behind these unscrupulous acts should be dealt with in the court of law. The negative impacts of rape on victims’ physical, reproductive and, psychosocial wellbeing is well documented. Physical trauma resulting from rape can affect any part of the victim’s body but trauma involving the genital organs is the most frequently encountered. Such trauma is exhibited through tears, ecchymosis, abrasions as well as Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), HIV/AIDS and unwanted pregnancies.

The state has an obligation to protect its citizens from torture and inhumane treatment (Section 53 of Zimbabwe’s Constitution Amendment 10) and the government should pursue all avenues to protect women from ongoing abuses. Political unrest should be dealt with through legal measures that promote justice instead of perpetuating and defending lawlessness.

WILD, therefore, calls on the government to investigate and prosecute members of the “security forces” who committed these atrocious sexual assaults so as to reverse the atmosphere of impunity that fosters such acts. WILD is challenging the government to quickly launch an investigation into these reports as a matter of urgency.

Source: Women’s Institute for Leadership Development

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