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International Women's Day commemorations
Heal Zimbabwe Trust
March 08, 2013

"A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women"

".....It was not easy for me to seek justice, it was not easy to be raped two times in 2008, my family and I had to stage night vigils at a local police station in Headlands in order to force the police to arrest the perpetrators... part of Mai Maisiri's rocky path in search of justice after she was raped twice during the 2008 political violence."

As the world celebrates the International Women's Day Commemorations, Heal Zimbabwe Trust takes this opportunity to applaud all women survivors of political violence who have survived horrendous experiences over the past decade. This year’s theme, "A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women" is a clear message that women are tired of empty peace talk and require those in positions of authority to guarantee protection of human lives after any participation in democratic processes.

Today, HZT salutes all women who have survived any form of human rights violations and would like to zero in on women who have rose above all the stigma, discrimination and harassment in search of justice. One woman who has suffered sexual abuse two times is Beauty Maisiri (mother to the late Christpower Maisiri) who was raped two times by a ZANU PF official during the 2008 political violence. Her only crime was being married to a MDC activist whom the perpetrators were baying for his blood but failed to locate him and as punishment raped his wife. One cannot ignore the rocky path Mai Maisiri went through in search of justice. The criminal act was committed in 2008 but the perpetrator was only apprehended in December 2009 after she and her family had insisted on justice. Mai Maisiri in search of justice at one point had to spend two nights at a police station together with her whole family in protest where she gave the police an ultimatum that she would only leave the police station when Lovemore Manenji the perpetrator was apprehended. The demonstration was coupled with a hunger strike prompting the police to take action. After the perpetrator was arrested before he could appear in court, the case docket mysteriously disappeared in the hands of the police a strategy that was meant to conceal the crime. Again Mai Maisiri together with her husband confronted the police who were then forced to open another docket. As if that was not enough, in February 2013, her son Christpower whom she gave birth in the mountains where she was seeking refuge during the 2002 political violence in Headlands was murdered in an attack many including the Maisiri family believe was politically motivated.

All these threats on Mai Maisiri's life shows lack of seriousness of the part of the police and the justice delivery system in Zimbabwe. Rape on its own is discriminatory and stigmatised, it takes a lot of courage for one to come out in the open that she was raped hence all these hindrances on justice should be condemned in the strongest of terms. Her torment poses a lot of questions on the sincerity of the Government in ensuring that women are treated as equal citizens. Mai Maisiri's ordeal has been one of suffering and humiliation at the hands of suspects well known to her and she believe they are ZANU PF members some of whom are still roaming free. As the country commemorates this year's International Women's Day lets remember and salute the resilience shown by Mrs Maisiri and many other survivors of political violence who have survived so much persecution. It is saddening to note that despite the tireless efforts by a number of local, regional and international bodies in advancing the promotion of women’s rights, there are still a lot of people who find comfort in perpetrating violence on women.

Mrs Maisiri's heroic stand against a repressive justice delivery system and powerful personalities in her area should be commended. Her torturous journey in search of justice should be a source of inspiration for many women who have gone through similar predicaments. It is shameful and unacceptable that there were other women present at the base where Mrs Maisiri was sexually abused who were actually singing and ululating, as a way of encouraging the men to commit the heinous act. As the country gears up for elections, we call upon the Government and political party leaders to ensure that women are accorded the protection that is due to them. The call for elections should not be seen as an ultimate death sentence for those who are perpetually abused, harassed and intimidated. We also call upon the youth of today to desist from harassing and abusing their perceived or real political opponents. On many occasions, young people have been used by unrepentant politicians to attack and harass women old enough to be their own mothers and grandmothers. Where has our essence of Ubuntu gone to?

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