There should be no impunity for the perpetrators of rape and it is important for Zimbabwe to set up a multi-sectoral investigation into politically motivated rape, a human rights group has said.
In a statement released last week, the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) said the investigations must be led by the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, Ministry of Women Affairs and Community Development, Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs. ZADHR added that the investigations should be undertaken on a large-scale basis countrywide.
“Rape has far-reaching consequences for women and their families, and for society as a whole. Women face the danger of HIV and AIDS infection, children born as a result of the rape, and physical injury as well as the psychological trauma suffered by them and their families, particularly those that witnessed the attacks,” said ZADHR in the statement. The group added that although women talked about the need for justice, their main call was for immediate medical, social and psychological support.
“The Zimbabwean government has to ensure that national sexual violence laws are enforced and the culture of impunity is done away with in keeping with local, regional and international instruments. Zimbabwe is part of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, in which it made commitments to ensure that perpetrators of gender based violence, including domestic violence, rape, femicide, sexual harassment, female genital mutilation and all other forms of gender-based violence are tried by a court of competent jurisdiction,” read the statement. Zimbabwe's Parliament ratified the Protocol in October 2009.
The Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU) and ZADHR recently concluded a study and produced the first report coming out of Zimbabwe focussing on politically motivated rape. The aim of the study was to provide a valid and reliable description and assessment of alleged cases of politically motivated rape. “The study concluded that politically motivated rape has been occurring in Zimbabwe over the last 10 years with serious social, medical and psychological impact on the survivors,” said the two groups, adding that politically motivated sexual violence against women in Zimbabwe had taken many forms.