Saturday, December 12, 2009

Women - Victims of Mugabe

From Associated Press:
Supporters of Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe used rape to terrorize the political opposition during last year's contested elections, international human rights activists said Thursday.

AIDS-Free World, led by former UNAIDS envoy Stephen Lewis, released a 64-page report that documents 380 rapes it said were committed by Mugabe loyalists.

Some 70 women linked to Zimbabwe's opposition detailed to the group how they were raped, kept as sex slaves and even forced to watch their daughters being raped. Ten became pregnant following the attacks and many believe they were infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

"These women were raped because they were politically defiant," said Betsy Apple, the organization's legal director. "It was meant to punish them and their communities."

Efforts to get comment from Mugabe's ZANU-PF party on the report were not successful Thursday.

The majority were abducted and taken to camps where they were gang-raped by five or more men. Ten of the women were pregnant at the time they were attacked. More than half of the women said they were beaten with fists, sticks, electric cords or metal rods before or after they were raped. Six women said they had to be taken to hospital in wheelbarrows or carts.

Just over half of the women reported their rapes to police and few of the perpetrators have been prosecuted, enjoying protection by police who have long been aligned to Mugabe. Few of the women have had access to medical treatment or counseling.

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