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International Women's Day commemorations
March 08, 2013
is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women"
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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