The Institute of Young Women Development (IYWD) strongly condemns the increasing number of incidents involving police violence against women and men including journalists. The organization expresses great concern over multiple eyewitness reports and widely circulating video footage on social media that appear to show police officers beating civilians. These disheartening acts of violence happened on Wednesday 20 November 2019 in Harare where the Movement of Democratic Change Alliance (MDC-A) supporters had gathered for the Hope of Nation Address (HONA) by the party president Nelson Chamisa. These actions by members of the Zimbabwean Republic Police are unacceptable and constitute a violation of the citizen’s freedom of association that is provided for in the Constitution.
The IYWD is outraged by the continued use of women as battlefields for state sanctioned violence by institution such as the police and army. While men and the elderly have also fallen victims of indiscriminate use of force by the police and the army in Zimbabwe, the increased use of force on unarmed women as captured by different media is worrisome for a country whose constitution provides an expansive bill of rights on women’s rights as articulated in sections 17, 56 and 80. Women already constitute a disproportionate number in leadership in governance, public service, private business and other sectors and the continued use pf violence increases women’s vulnerability and erodes gains made thus far towards gender equality.
The Institute of Young Women Development urgently calls for the following:
- The Commissioner of Police to publicly address these worrying reports and state the government of Zimbabwe’s commitment to the rights of Zimbabweans, regardless of their political affiliation, and put an end to the use of excessive force on unarmed citizens.
- The organization demands the government of Zimbabwe to acknowledge that the country is in a crisis and it needs to initiate a multi-sectoral and inclusive dialogue process. In doing so, the government should also uphold the constitution, implement Security Sector Reforms (SSR) and transitional precondition for the achievement of stable and democratic community.
- The Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) takes seriously the continued use of indiscriminate force against unarmed citizens and call upon the government of Zimbabwe to uphold its citizen rights in with its constitution and regional and international instruments on the rights of people to assemble and associate and express themselves.
Source: Institute of Young Women Development (IYWD)