END IMPUNITY TO SEXUAL ASSAULT AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS

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1. We, the undersigned women’s rights organisations, groups and activists hereby present this petition, noting the following:

· Alarming reports have emerged of women who were subjected to bodily harm, sexual assault and violence by members of the national security forces, during the government crackdowns that have been taking place countrywide following the violent protests that rocked the country between 14-16 January 2019.

·Some of the women alleged that they were raped by the perpetrators and that they did not use protection at all. The women also indicated that they could not report these atrocities due to fear of victimization. The Minister of Information, Communication and Broadcasting Services, Senator Monica Mutsvangwa, is on record saying that the government will leave no stone unturned in investigating these cases. However, to date, it would seem that not much has been done to bring the perpetrators to book.

· We are therefore deeply appalled by these horrific developments and we worry that the assault on women’s bodies and integrity has far reaching consequences for national development, especially where impunity by security forces continues to reign with most crimes against women and girls going unpunished.

2. We are cognizant of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, which is the Supreme law of the land, which provides as follows:

· Every person has an inherent right to dignity in their private and public life, and the right to have that dignity respected and protected, section 51 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

·Every person has the right to bodily and psychological integrity, which includes the right to freedom from all forms of violence, from public and private sources, section 52 of the Constitution.

·No person may be subjected to physical or psychological torture or to cruel inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment, section 53 of the Constitution.

3.The Women’s movement is therefore deeply worried by the growing reports regarding the violation of the above-mentioned constitutionally guaranteed rights. These sad developments represent a serious threat to democracy and the fundamental human rights and freedoms.  It is against this background that, we seize the Commission with this matter, cognizant of section 246(c) of the Constitution, which provides that the Commission has a mandate to receive and consider complaints from the public and take action in regards to the complaints as it considers appropriate.

4.We therefore call upon the Zimbabwe Gender Commission to carry out its mandate as contemplated by Section 246 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe:

                     1. To investigate the alleged reports of rape, sexual assault and violence perpetrated against women and girls during and after the government crackdowns.

                    2.To guarantee and ensure safety of the victims and the witnesses of the reported atrocities.

                    3.To recommend prosecution of the perpetrators of the atrocities outlined above in order to ensure that the injustices committed against the victims are remedied.