HomeCommentGovt must avoid double standards on rape

Govt must avoid double standards on rape

Flipping through the country’s newspapers one cannot avoid coming across a rape story, sometimes two or three in the same newspaper! How disturbing and emotionally depressing it has become.

Candid Comment with Wongai Zhangazha

Without saying one type of rape is worse than the other, the stories of rape send shudders down the spines of even the most hard-hearted individuals.

The Zimbabwe Republic Police has said from January to May this year they received 1 494 cases of juvenile rape cases compared to 1 384 cases over the same period recorded last year.

These figures represent only a fraction of the actual number of rape incidences as many others go unreported.

These statistics shocked Vice-President Joice Mujuru who launched government’s National Action Plan on rape and sexual violence last week and she pleaded with responsible government agencies to make concerted efforts to curb the crime.

While Mujuru needs to be applauded for the stance and action against rape and describing it as “horrendous and sheer madness”, she and responsible government ministries need to do more and stop the double standards.

A certain group of women is being ignored by government. These are poll violence rape victims. No powerful female voice is heard during election periods talking against rape violence.

No action has been taken by government ministries to investigate and provide an ear to such victims.

The issues is ignored by the Zanu PF government as it is politically inexpedient.

In 2010, the Research and Advocacy Unit conducted a study on politically motivated rape in collaboration with the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights and the Doors of Hope Development Trust, a self-help organisation formed by and consisting of women survivors of politically motivated rape.

This study was based on 27 sworn legal affidavits and medical examinations of women raped because of their political activity, or that of their husbands. Its purpose was to highlight the experiences of women during elections, particularly in 2008.

According to the study sexual assaults reported by the sample “were extremely distressing, with horrific reports of gang rape.
Some of the women were raped by numerous perpetrators until they lost consciousness. Medical examinations confirm genital trauma and other physical injuries consistent with rape as well as psychological damage”.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights notes that the use of sexual violence such as rape is a tactic to create fear and humiliate or punish women and their communities.

These women also need your voices Vice-President Mujuru and Women Affairs minister Oppah Muchinguri because their cases are also real.

There is need for functional healing efforts as a pre-requisite to ending violence against women and girls, especially in the next elections.

Rape victims need the cooperation of all sectors — government departments, civil society and development partners.

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