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Zimbabwe women urged to report rape by soldiers

Women allegedly raped by the security forces during night raids to suppress recent protests have been urged to report their cases to the police.

The information minister said only one attack has been officially reported despite numerous allegations, the state-run Herald newspaper reports.

The BBC has spoken to six women who said they were raped by soldiers.

Correspondents say there is widespread mistrust of the police, who were also involved in the crackdown on protests.

The state-funded Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission has accused soldiers of using “systematic torture” in the crackdown on protests that broke out a fortnight ago following a more than doubling in fuel prices. It has strongly criticised the authorities for using troops to quell demonstrations.

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The BBC spoke to six women who had sought refuge at a safe house about their experiences during the night-time door-to-door raids by the security forces.

One of the women said: “They slapped me, then said they want to have sex with me. When I refused, they slapped me again. The first soldier had unprotected sex with me. Then the other one said, ‘I want to do the same.'”

Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the government did not condone and or tolerate “criminal behaviour by any member of society particularly those in positions of trust”.

“All women, who were allegedly raped, are encouraged to come forward and report the cases to the Zimbabwe Republic Police Victim Friendly Unit, which can be found at every police station around the country,” The Herald quotes her as saying in a statement.

“The unit is led by a female commissioner, hence, all affected women will be treated with empathy, compassion, respect and due care. Their safety will be guaranteed,” she added.

 

Source: BBC

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