Fighting for a New Constitution: Human Rights Violations experienced by Female Members of the National Constitutional Assembly.
Politically motivated violence against women is one of the more regrettable features of contemporary
Zimbabwean political life. It is a feature seen in every election since 2000, and is the likely and common experience of any woman who dares to become politically or socially active. It can happen to women merely because they are perceived to be an opponent of ZANU PF, as was so clearly seen in the Presidential run-off in 2008. As was shown in a recent analysis of the violence in 2008, a woman who was an MDC member, or merely perceived to be a supporter of the MDC, was 10 times more likely to report a human rights violation than a female member of ZANU PF. More worrying was the finding that female supporters of ZANU PF were 40 times more likely to have been reported as a perpetrator. It is abundantly evident that the women of Zimbabwe are deeply involved in the political crisis.
There are a number of reports detailing the violations recently experienced by women in Zimbabwe over the past decade. In 2006, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum [the Human Rights Forum] reported on these, basing its findings on both the cases reported to the Human Rights Forum and its members as well as those cases in which the victims were assisted by the Forum in taking civil action against their perpetrators. The report described 448 cases of violations against women, but this was a sub-sample of 967 cases in total. For the period 2000 to 2006, the most common violation reported by women was assault, followed by political intimidation and property destruction, but there were a number of interesting differences found between urban and rural women. It is important to note that during this period Zimbabwe had 3 national elections, i.e. 2000, 2002 and 2005 and it is known fact that violence increases during election years. Rural women were reported to have experienced property destruction, displacement, rape, and torture more frequently than their urban counterparts, whilst urban women reported assault, unlawful detention, and death threats more frequently. A similar pattern was found in 2008.