Women rights activists have petitioned government to compensate women who were allegedly raped during a brutal crackdown by the military to crush protests against fuel prices.

Dozens of women may have been raped during the post-protest crackdown, according to rights groups which have collected evidence, and say that security forces used rape as a weapon to spread fear among its opponents.

Human rights activists with the Women’s Academy for Leadership and Political Excellence (WALPE), Female Prisoners Support Trust (FEMPRIST) and Justice For Women Zimbabwe (JWZ) pushed two constitutional commissions, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) and the Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) to step up pressure on government for compensation, asking the State rights bodies to also receive testimonies from rape victims.  

Rape victims are often ostracised in the country where discussion of the crime remains taboo, so it is not clear how many victims would actually come forward. The petition was also submitted to government ministries, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Home Affairs and the Defence ministry, and international organisations including UN Women, African Union Commission and Sadc Gender Commission

The rights groups said the army deployments “turned out to be a premeditated clampdown on residents of major cities and towns” where “dozens of women were raped and sexually assaulted by members of the army.”

“Hundreds of women were also arbitrarily arrested and arraigned in fast track trials that disregarded all their rights.

“The ZHRC and ZGC provide a safe and secure platform for women’s organisations to submit evidence of the crimes committed by the security forces…and push for justice for the victims of the military crackdown including demanding the arrest of all perpetrators, provision of reparation and compensation by the government to families who lost their loved ones.

“All perpetrators should be held to account and barred from working in the security sector,” the petition read. dailynews