Women may be afraid to report rape, sexual assault cases against army and police

By Lungile Moyo

 

Women may be afraid to report cases of rape and sexual assault against police and army personnel as only one case of rape has been reported and is being investigated in Mashonaland according to official government reports.

In a statement delivered a few days ago the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Mrs Monica Mutsvangwa urged women who were violated by soldiers to report cases to the police stating that most reports have only come through the social media grapevine and not through official police reporting channels.

However some human and women’s rights activists have said this is unlikely to get a response as women are afraid of and do not trust members of the uniformed forces anymore. 

“It is ill-thought out for the government to think women would feel comfortable walking into a police station full of uniformed officers to lay a charge against their fellow colleagues. The least they could have done was set up a special investigative arm of senior officers or trusted citizens to handle this very delicate situation,” said one activist who refused to be named. 

Mantante Mlotshwa a young activist took to social media to express her disappointment, writing;

“Welcome to Zimbabwe🇿🇼, So the *police* and the *Army* Is appealing to members of the Public to report to the *Police* and the *army* any misconduct or abuse suffered under the hand of either the *Police* or the *Army* so that the *Police* and the *Army* can investigate the *Police* and *Army* and if the *Police* and the *Army* Finds that the *Police* and the *Army* Is guilty of any wrong doing the *Police* and the *Army* will take action against the *Policie* and the *Army*. And you still think the country is sane? We need an independent Policing system. SADC how far? AU why are you quiet?” wrote the young activist.

Meanwhile Matabeleland based civic organisations have set up systems to record, report and help with immediate medical assistance to those who have been raped or sexually assaulted in anyway. 

In her full statement Minister Mutsvangwa guaranteed the wellbeing of the women after reporting the cases stating, 

“All women who were supposedly raped are encouraged to report the cases to the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Victim Friendly Unit which can be found at every police station all over the country”, said Mutsvangwa. 

Mutsvangwa also said that in order to safeguard the victims of  alleged rape cases, the affected persons could use the following Whats-App number 0712800197, adding that this was “to set the helms of Impartiality in motion”

She also called on Non Governmental Organisations to encourage and support victims of rape who approach them ,to report the cases of rape to the Police Victim Friendly Unit. 

No toll-free or hotline number  for the police has been given as yet which could be a hinderance as many women and girls facing financial challenges may not afford to make paid calls to the police or to buy data bundles for WhatApp messegging.