By Shamiso Chigonde
A few weeks ago the nation witnessed protests that ended up in violence, looting, destruction of property and of late allegations of rape and various forms of sexual assaults on women and girls by soldiers sent out by the state to quail the protests.
Over a dozen allegations of rape have been reported in the media by women in Harare’s Epworth suburb and some unconfirmed reports in parts of Bulawayo as well.
In response to this feminist organizations, human and women’s rights groups have initiated the Black Wednesday campaign meant to draw attention to and end military rape
Ekenia Chifamba who is one of the activists taking part in this campaign told Amakhosikazi Media that women will be dressed in all black every Wednesday to fight for their dignity and their rights.
“On Wednesday we will be dressed in all black, our message is : speaking out against the rape done by some army officers. We do not want them to declare war on our bodies and justice should prevail because the rule of law does not choose who you are,” she said.
She went on to say that what was done by some of these military men was disheartening as women look up to them for protection especially given the situation that has been on the ground.
According to Ekenia, the campaign is not just for women in Zimbabwe but also for women all over the world because she said the assaults affects all women, therefore women should unite.
“The campaign is not going to be accompanied by a march so we will wear black wherever we are and continue with our normal day to day duties” Ekenia said.
Portia Muzorava, a woman living in Zvishavane was however surprised to hear about the initiative and she said though it is good they should have given it more time so that everyone prepares.
“It’s a good thing to campaign for women’s rights, they should have given us more time for preparation because our fellow counterparts in the rural areas are not even aware that we are wearing black on Wednesday,” she said.
The Justice for Women Zimbabwe will be holding a Press Conference on the day with the agenda of speaking up against state sponsored rape and violence against women with a lot of speakers lined up for the event including the organisation’s Director Coezett Chirinda and disability activist Nasper Manyau.
Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Monica Mutsvangwa is on record as encouraging women who were raped to report to the police, assuring their safety and saying the Victim Friendly Unit (VFU) was headed by a “female commissioner, hence, all affected women will be treated with empathy, compassion, respect and due care.” Her statements came after the announcement of Black Wednesday campaign.