Press Statement by Women of Zimbabwe (WoZ)
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance members arrest, torture and sexual assaults
Women of Zimbabwe (WoZ) are deeply concerned by the brutal torture and sexual assaults perpetrated on 3 Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance members namely Joana Mamombe, MP Harare West and 2 MDC Alliance Youth Leaders, Celia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova on 13 May 2020 following a protest in Warren Park, Harare against the Zimbabwe government’s poor handling of COVID-19 which has left many vulnerable families going hungry and without any means to support themselves.
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The trio had been arrested by the Zimbabwe Republic Police at a Police roadblock near the Harare showgrounds, they were initially detained at Harare Central Police Station, who it is believed handed them over to the Zimbabwe State Security Agents and their whereabouts could not be traced.
This enforced disappearance led to a man-hunt by their lawyer and MDC Alliance colleagues and also included international embassies and other stakeholders sharing their concerns and calling for the release of the trio.
WoZ calls upon the Government to investigate the torture and sexual assaults perpetrated against the 3 MDC Alliance members and ensure that justice is served.
WoZ is fully aware that rape and other forms of sexual violence are used as weapon of war by the Zimbabwe State Security agents. Between 12-24 January 2019, 50 women were reportedly raped by Zimbabwe State Security agents following mass demonstrations against fuel price increases. No arrests were made, and no one has been held accountable.
WoZ draws the attention of the government of Zimbabwe to the Universal Declaration of Human RightsArticle 3. which provides that : ‘Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person’
Article 5 which provides that: ‘No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’
United Nations definition of torture
The term “torture” means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
United Nations Human Rights: Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women: Proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 48/104 of 20 December 1993
Article 1 – For the purposes of this Declaration, the term “violence against women” means any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.
Article 2 (c) – Physical, sexual, and psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the State, wherever it occurs.
WoZ draws the attention of the Government of Zimbabwe to the Zimbabwe Constitution of which it is a signatory which states:
51. Right to human dignity
· Every person has inherent dignity in their private and public life, and the right to have that dignity respected and protected.
53. Freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment
· Prohibition of corporal punishment
· Prohibition of cruel treatment
· Prohibition of torture – No person may be subjected to physical or psychological torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
WoZ calls on the government of Zimbabwe to:
· thoroughly investigate the torture and sexual assaults against the (3) MDC Alliance members and to bring the perpetrators to book
· to make public the perpetrators of this heinous crime
WoZ calls upon the government of Zimbabwe to uphold the Rule of Law and to respect Human rights dignity, failure to do so will render the Government of Zimbabwe in violation of the Zimbabwe Constitution to which it is a signatory.
Women of Zimbabwe (WoZ)Women’s empowerment and Gender equality groupfollow us:Facebook – WomenofZimTwitter – @WomenofZimbabwe