Friday, July 11, 2008

Girls in Zimbabwe

Yet another sensitive topic - the plight of girls and young women - well, all women - in Zimbabwe.

From The Times Online:
"Dozens of teenage girls have been made pregnant after being taken into the bush and raped in torture camps by President Robert Mugabe’s youth militia operating near Mudzi, a town 100 miles northeast of Harare, human rights workers allege.

Amid the continuing chaos, there are as yet no clear statistics, but the sharp rise in teenage pregnancies seems almost certain to have been repeated elsewhere in rural districts. Some of the victims will have contracted HIV-Aids, which has ravaged Zimbabwe for years and helped reduce average life expectancy to 34 for women, the lowest in the world.

The raped girls are the silent victims of Mugabe’s stolen election. Their suffering has been surrounded by silence owing to the stigma and shame of rape. There are an unprecedented 16 teenage pregnancies registered at one local hospital alone. Residents report that the local Zanu-PF militia boasts that it wants to make Mudzi an “MDC-free zone”. The torture camps, they claim, are still manned, with no sign that they are about to be dismantled."

From CNN:
"The 23-year-old woman in Harare, Zimbabwe, said she could talk, but only briefly. It was 3:30 p.m. there and she had to be home before the 6 p.m. curfew, she said. "I should be home in an hour, hour and a half. If I'm not home by then, it means trouble," she said Tuesday."

From the Boston Globe:
"She has to call the young men her "comrades." She cooks food for the comrades and serves them. She sweeps their floor and cleans up after them. And whenever any of the comrades wants sex, she is raped.

Asiatu, 21, is a prisoner of the comrades at a command base of the ruling ZANU-PF, one of 900 set up by the party ..... She has been at the base for about 10 weeks, ever since she was abducted in the middle of the night because her mother is a supporter of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. She has to stay most of each day and night at the base, a sex slave of the thuggish youth militias unleashed by the government.

At most of the bases, young women have been forced to serve ZANU-PF youth militias, and men forced to attend the camps daily. The opposition MDC reports an upsurge in pregnancies among victims of rape. Written testimonies by victims show many cases of women raped because they or their close relatives were MDC activists. The party does not have a figure on the number of rapes reported in the continuing political violence."

From the Irish Times:
"Asiatu (21) is a prisoner of the comrades at a command base of the ruling Zanu-PF, one of 900 set up by the party to terrorise Zimbabweans into voting Robert Mugabe back into power in the one-man presidential run-off election late last month.

[She was] interviewed her during one of the several short daily periods she is allowed to leave the base. When asked why she doesn't escape during her free time, she gives a chilling explanation: "They promised me if I run away, my mother will be killed."

She says she looked forward to the June 27th run-off and the result, assuming she would be freed, but with the election over and no sign to the end of her imprisonment, she has lost hope.

She is fearful she might be pregnant, and terrified she has Aids. She is the sole breadwinner in her family, but has not been able to sell vegetables because she spends all her time at the base."

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