A significant number of women from Harare’s peri-urban Hopley area were allegedly raped by soldiers during the brutal crackdown against civil society leaders and opposition activists which started last week.
The clampdown followed protests which became violent in some areas which the government blamed on the opposition MDC. As a result of the crackdown, a reported 12 people were killed. One of the rape victims who spoke to Newsday said:
On January 17, soldiers were patrolling in our area. They usually come and they are familiar with people in the area.
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On that particular day during the night, I arrived home late and saw some soldiers near my house and they were in the maize field. They asked for certain people, but to my surprise, those were my children and sensing danger, I said they were not home.
The victim said one of the soldiers called her from a distance and she complied.
He said I should do everything that he wants and he said he wanted to sleep with me. I didn’t refuse because I wanted to save my children. I, however, told him that I am HIV positive, but he said it didn’t matter so I complied.
In another residential area on the outskirts of Harare, Southlea Park, some women claim to have been sexually assaulted by the soldiers.