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Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
violence and torture and its effects on children
Research and Advocacy Unit
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The shift away
from undemocratic methods of gaining and maintaining political power
has led many African autocrats to seek electoral strategies for
keeping power. Recent research indicates that one-fifth of elections
in Africa are violent, and, in many cases, this violence occurs
before elections take place (usually by incumbents): Zimbabwe, for
example, has shown this for the 2000 Parliamentary elections, the
2002 Presidential election, and the 2008
Presidential re-run. In other cases, violence that occurs after
elections, is generally more violent than pre-election violence,
and is mostly precipitated by the challengers.
Thus, our understanding
about political violence becomes more nuanced. There is violence
that takes place in countries but falls short of so-called “armed
conflict.” Such violence will be more short-lived than would
be necessary to be defined as “armed conflict”, but
can have very profound effects on citizens and a country as a whole.
One of the more
disturbing features of elections in Zimbabwe has been the use of
schools as both places where political campaigning takes place and
even their use as so-called “bases” for militia activity.
By implication, the use of schools as places of political activity
(and even worse as places of violence) will involve children in
witnessing events harmful to their psychological and moral development,
and there is worrying evidence to this effect in Zimbabwe.
about schools as places that become targets in armed conflict has
now attracted international concern with the establishment of the
Global Campaign to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA). This campaign,
to which the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU) is a participating
member, has been raising international opinion about the dangers
faced by children and teachers during armed conflict. This initiative
is strongly bolstered by the United Nations Security Council Resolution
1998 of 2011.
study is an attempt to at least quantify the risks using data from
the past decade in Zimbabwe. It was not possible to provide any
estimate of the consequences of these risks for children, but at
least specifying the probable risks does allow some estimate of
the scale of the needed response for Zimbabwean children.
Violence Monthly Reports of the Zimbabwe
Human Rights NGO Forum were examined for cases of political
violence where children were involved. This involved looking at
all the reports produced between July 2001 and December 2008. Three
categories of cases were developed:
- Those where
children were specifically identified as being victims of or direct
witnesses to political violence;
- Those cases
where violence occurred at schools, involving violence against
teachers, violence taking place at schools, or schools being used
- Those cases
where violent attacks took place at citizens’ homes, where
the implication is that children may have been involved, but children
are not mentioned specifically.
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