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Hopes run high that justice will finally be served Zimbabwe mass rape

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 16th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

There is hope that the 200 men alleged in a Zimbabwe mass rape will finally be brought to justice. An investigation is under way in South Africa concerning the defendants into some 200 men in widespread rape throughout Zimbabwe during the tumultuous 2008 election period.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The suspects are linked to President Robert Mugabe's party. The South African police probe follows years of investigative work by international non-governmental agencies. 

The agency AIDS-Free World interviewed 84 Zimbabwean women who swore in affidavits that they were raped by men, sometimes in gangs. The men were associated with Mugabe's Zanu-PF party during 2008 in an alleged strategy to influence the election.

All 84 women interviewed were members of the current Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.

The evidence given to South African authorities contains the names of more than 200 alleged perpetrators linked to Zanu-PF, as well as testimony from doctors, eyewitnesses, and civil society organizations.

The probe marks the first time that rape is solely being scrutinized as a crime against humanity under a legal term known as "universal jurisdiction." The principle allows and obliges nations under international law to investigate and prosecute citizens from other countries, if the crimes are considered particularly heinous.
With Zimbabwe's general elections expected this year and Saturday's referendum on a new constitution, fears of new political violence are growing.

"Contacts" within Zimbabwe are reporting that gang-rape "base camps," similar to those established in 2008 - are now being reconstituted with elections on the horizon.

"That's why it's important that this story is told," Lewis said. "The message we're sending to Mugabe's regime is: 'You cannot get away with rape as a strategy for re-election,'" co-founder of AIDS-Free World Stephen Lewis says.

"Electing to Rape: Sexual Terror in Mugabe's Zimbabwe," is a grim 2009 report that includes the testimonies of 84 women. No one knows exactly how many women were raped in 2008, but estimates range from "hundreds and possibly thousands," according to the report.

Many claimed that they were abducted and taken to camps where they were gang-raped, sometimes for days, by men who wore Zanu-PF caps and T-shirts, who chanted party songs and slogans, and who denounced Tsvangirai's MDC.

Some women said they were often raped in front of husbands, children, and other family members.

"The women - who were in every instance utterly devastated, some of them destroyed physically, psychologically, emotionally - they said to us, 'What we want more than anything else in the world is justice,'" Lewis says.

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