Annual Report 2013
The state of the world's human rights

28 July 2007

Zimbabwe's women demand rights

Zimbabwe's women demand rights
In Zimbabwe, the majority of human rights activists are women. Women fight for rights because they are often the ones who struggle to feed their children, pay for school fees and for healthcare. Even these basic necessities have become increasingly unaffordable to most households in the country’s ever deeper economic, social and political crisis.Zimbabwe’s women activists confront the government demanding respect and protection of human rights. They take part in peaceful marches and meetings, mainly as part of women’s and human rights organizations. In the last seven years, however, the government has become increasingly intolerant of critics of its policies. The police's widespread use of excessive force, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention of government critics has been backed by the government. Particularly targeted are human rights activists, trade unionists, media workers, NGO workers, lawyers, students, the political opposition and other perceived opponents.Since 2005, hundreds of women protesters have been arbitrarily arrested and detained for engaging or attempting to engage in peaceful protests. Whilst in police custody, most women interviewed by Amnesty International had been subjected to beatings and other ill-treatment. Many suffer further abuse because they are women, including sexist verbal abuse and derogatory accusations.Irene is a human rights activist in Zimbabwe. Her family was forcibly evicted from a farm in 2002 and her new home in Bulawayo was also destroyed in 2005 during the government's programme of mass forced evictions. After her only parent died, Irene had to earn money selling vegetables to support her six siblings.Since vendors have their goods confiscated and are at times made to pay fines, Irene decided to join other women in her community and take part in peaceful demonstrations organized by Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA).

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