ZGC probes incidences of rape during protests

By NQOBANI NDLOVU

THE Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) says it will institute investigations into reports of rape and other sexual violations women allegedly suffered at the hands of State security agents during the January anti-fuel price hike protests.

Human rights groups have alleged several women were raped and others sexually violated in a systematic and often violent door-to-door crackdown during the protests, said to have also claimed 17 lives.

The ZGC said the reports of rape could not be swept under.

“There were also alleged cases of sexual violence (during the crackdown). The commission is deeply concerned about these developments, as there are always gender dimensions in conflict situations as women, men, boys and girls are affected differently,” the ZGC said yesterday in a statement.

“The commission has thus been collecting information to appreciate the inherent gender dynamics and respond accordingly. The commission has, to this end, instituted an investigation and is calling upon the victims, the general public and organisations to report any gender-based violations to the commission.”

Government has dismissed the rape and other sexual violations, with President Emmerson Mnangagwa telling international media that the victims must “come forward”.

The MDC Alliance, in response, accused Mnangagwa of trivialising rape.

“The MDC also notes that Mnangagwa misunderstands the need to protect victims of rape. His interview does not make it better. He trivialises the whole State-instigated violence that took place in January, insisting that women were not raped because only one report was made to the police,” MDC deputy national spokesperson Bekithemba Mpofu said.

“We, in the MDC, have argued then, as we do now, that only the Independent Complains Mechanism set out in section 210 of the Constitution has the lawful and reasonable grounding to investigate these issues.”

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