This emerged on Tuesday, March 23, at the launch of a new report on human rights violations experienced by female members of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA). The report, titled “Fighting for a New Constitution”, was prepared by the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU).
One of the survivors, Mary Pamire, who says she was abducted and raped by ten soldiers in 2003, broke down as she narrated how she was thrown into the forefront of demonstrations, only for those who led the protests to dump her after she had already been abused.
“I was abducted by a group of soldiers in 2003, they took me to a secluded place and took turns to rape me,” said a tearful Pamire. “It was not an easy thing. I counted up to ten the number of times they raped me. After that I lost track of what was happening.”
The soldiers allegedly dumped Pamire near a busy road, and a well wisher discovered her and took her into the city centre. This resulted in her being admitted at a leading private hospital in Harare.
But while Pamire managed to get treatment, she is still bitter that her comrades in the NCA and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) with whom she had participated in the mass action never came to see her at hospital. She says she also did not get any form of support from the NCA and MDC.
“The NCA and MDC never helped me, despite the fact that I was suffering for them,” said Pamire.
But NCA director Ernest Mudzengi defended his organisation’s position, saying they were being constrained by resources.
“We have not had resources that allow for continuous support to victims and survivors, mostly because of the enormity of the challenge,” said Mudzengi.
The newly launched book indicates that during times of elections, sexual violence is usually used as a political weapon to silence dissent or intimidate opponents, resulting in large numbers of women being raped. In most cases, notes the report, the perpetrators are usually people who have got a strong link with the state, without necessarily being part of the state.
Despite the hassles it exposes, the report encourages women activists to “participate in any civil society activities without fear of reprisal and/or brutal treatment from law enforcement agents”.
“Women’s voices should be heard in any transitional justice mechanism that may be set up for Zimbabwe,” reads the report. “Law enforcement agents and other state sponsored goups should respect women, they are to be seen as individuals in their own right and should not be treated as the property of men”.