Zimbabwe women are divided over rape allegations by security forces during last week’s crackdown on anti-government protesters with some saying the allegations must be verified first and reported to local women’s organisations because rushing to foreign organisations and governments first trivialises the matter and smacks of hypocrisy.
The debate was sparked by Jenni Williams of Women of Zimbabwe Arise when she tweeted that she had not verified any rape incidents in Bulawayo.
She was responding to sentiments by the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition which objected to a statement that the situation in Zimbabwe was returning normal when cases of rape were being reported.
“Rape has no place in our society and I would be first to shout about it but I prefer to see for myself the victim so I can also give practical support. So far since yesterday we have not verified rape incidents in Bulawayo,” she tweeted yesterday.
She was supported by someone tweeting under the name Madam Boss who said: “Verification of these abuses should be done and victims encouraged to report to victim friendly organisations who should then help report and pressure the gvt to act on the perpetrators, reporting to the foreign press/gvts first only trivialises the matter and smacks of hypocrisy.”
Ba Tino disagreed. He said: “You do not tell rape victims how to deal with their trauma and how they want to publicize it. Those who trivialise it because it didn’t follow the channels they subscribe are sick in the mind and actually perpetuate the abuse and protect the abused.”
But Madam Boss stood her ground: “What do they expect the world 2 do for them if they dont even alert local women support groups for help first and then tell the whole world when they feel that nothing is being done to protect or help them. So far police say only 1 victim has come forward wer r the others.”
Home Affairs Minister Cain Mathema acknowledged reports of “alleged rape, sexual abuse and assaults that have been perpetrated by security forces during the recent operation” but said only one report had been received so far.
“We take these rape allegations very seriously and investigations will be instituted immediately once complainants file reports with the police,” Mathema said.
“We are therefore making a passionate appeal to all citizens of Zimbabwe to come forward and report any cases of sexual abuse, rape or misconduct by the security forces to the police.”
Army spokesman Alphios Makotore said that “bogus” elements in military uniform were engaging in violence and placing the “image of the organisations into disrepute”.
Mentalist 1708 was not amused by Jenni Williams’s argument. She tweeted: “Soldiers please also rape @WOZAJenni she needs proof.”