By Violet Gonda
25 July 2007
Amnesty International has released a report on Zimbabwe, focusing on the political repression faced by women activists. The report entitled Between a rock and a hard place – women human rights defenders at risk, looks at factors that have driven women to go into human rights activism, like the socio and economic conditions in Zimbabwe, and the challenges these women are facing as a result of being activists. Scores of women are also struggling to provide for their families after being evicted from their homes during Operation Murambatsvina in 2005
Amnesty interviewed scores of women of all ages throughout Zimbabwe and found that rights defenders are suffering increasing repression and torture for opposing the regime. Many had been arbitrarily arrested and detained for engaging in peaceful protest marches or meetings in the last two years.
Members of the pressure group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) have been at the forefront of the protests. Many of the activists have been arrested with their babies and subjected to beatings and torture while in police custody. Activists from opposition parties, civic groups and labour movement are not spared either.
Sekai Holland, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Secretary for Research and Policy, after she was tortured by Zimbabwe Republic Police officers
at Machipisa police station, Harare, Zimbabwe on 11 March 2007.