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Zanu PF rape-victims mobilise

Had they heard this, members of the Doors of Hope Development Trust would have been flattered.

 

Building confidence among members and helping them to stand up and be counted among other achievers are some of the aims of the organisation.

Formed in December 2009 to bring together victims of politically motivated rape, the Doors of Hope Development Trust has 50 members drawn from various parts of the country including Bikita, Zaka, Chivhu, Harare, Epworth and Headlands.

They are among hundreds of MDC-T supporters violated by marauding Zanu PF supporters and war veterans who were part of the mean machinery that was deployed to secure President Robert Mugabe’ s re-election in the June 2008 presidential run-off election.

Mugabe who had trailed Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in the first round of the polls in March went on to run unopposed after his opponent withdrew citing the deadly violence against his supporters.

The majority of the victims of the dehumanising violence are still crying out for justice two years after a unity government was formed to end the mayhem.

“We were not like this,” Margaret Mazvarira says of their polished appearance.

“There was a time when we neglected ourselves, feeling useless and thinking the world had ended for us.
“But through interaction and counselling, we learnt of the importance of doing all we can to look as good as any other person and that is what we are encouraging all new members to do.

“There are some who are still failing to get out of their sorrow but we are doing our best to encourage them.”
The organisation, in partnership with the Research and Advocacy Unit has also come up with a nine minute film to encourage other rape survivors countrywide to join the organisation or just share their sad experiences.

In the film titled “How About Us”, Mazvarira tells of how two men drove into her compound in Murambinda just after the burial of her son Talent Mabika who was petrol-bombed at an MDC rally in the area.

Pretending to be MDC officials, the two lured her into their car saying they wanted to take her to the party’s Harare offices to discuss her son’s death, only to turn against her at a farm before reaching the highway.

She tells of how one of the assailants held her hands together while his colleague raped her before they sped off leaving her humiliated and ashamed of herself.

Another victim, Rutendo Munengami tells of how uniformed soldiers broke into her house in Glenview at midnight during the MDC’s 2003 Final Push campaign.

Apart from the group beating her up and battering her with hard objects on her genitalia, one of the men raped her.
Intense physical abuse left her with fractured arms and another group prevented her from getting urgent treatment at Parirenyatwa and Avenues Clinic.

Another victims tells of how 10 men took turns to rape her.

All the women were told that they were being punished for supporting and “dishing their bodies” to sell-outs. Zanu PF often accuses MDC leaders of being sellouts.

In the film, they demand assistance, pointing out that politicians have shared benefits of their struggle leaving them to suffer.

“We are also trying to dymystify the belief that rape victims love men,” Munengami said.

“The attitudes we have seen in some offices where we have sought help and also in the community show that there are some people who think that those who get raped love men too much.

“I also saw this in the community and within the family, with someone even having the guts to come by night and push a little letter under our door asking my husband what he will do with a wife who has slept with Zanu PF thugs.

“Sometimes I looked at what some family members were doing, forgetting that I became unfortunate while trying to protect my husband whom they were now trying to separate me from.”

The organisation also facilitates counselling and treatment for members.

“But lack of funds is limiting our activities because we would like to reach out to all rape survivors, including those who were raped outside political spheres,” Munengami said.

“We also want to start a self-help skills training programme for members because many of them are unemployed and you find that some of these were infected with HIV or impregnated when they were raped.
“They help so that they can cope with their circumstances.”

Two of the survivors who give testimonies in the film disclose that they were infected with HIV and are now on anti retroviral therapy.

Membership for the organisation cuts across ages, with some victims as old as 70 years.
It also includes young men who were forced by political thugs to sleep with women, some of them far much older than them.

Munengami said they were also open to all girls and women who were abused at Zanu PF vigils.
But the women make one thing clear – justice has to prevail, all perpetrators should be brought to book.

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