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blitz on women slammed
Jennifer Dube, The Standard (Zimbabwe)
May 27, 2012
Police in Harare
have embarked on a blitz arresting women in bars and night spots,
accusing them of engaging in prostitution, a move roundly condemned
by women and human rights organisations.
For the past
two weeks, female dancers and patrons in bars have been arrested
and fined by the police in the capital. Popular raunchy dancer,
Beverly Sibanda, on Friday said the police were causing mayhem in
ago when I performed at City Sports Bar, I was confronted by four
police officers as I walked out of the bar after my show,"
said Beverly. "They told me I had been arrested and I asked
them what they were charging me for and they simply said there was
"They only left me and my group when we forcibly got into
our car but they went away with almost 10 other women they had taken
out of the bar."
the police's act. "What they are doing is wrong because
they are discriminating against women. It is not a crime in Zimbabwe
to be a female in a bar at night," she said.
if this was aimed at curbing prostitution, there are many other
issues that need to be addressed before they can start persecuting
people. After all, not every woman in a bar is a prostitute."
Everjoice Win, said even if the operation was to rid Harare of prostitution,
it still bordered on infringement of rights as those involved in
the act, made conscious choices. "Sex work is work so why
eradicate it," Win said.
people did their maths and economic analysis. Some have day-time
jobs and they have reasons why they have to take up sex work as
a second job."
She said the
arrests emanated from the misconception that these were young, unemployed
girls going astray, yet they were talking about adults who have
the capacity to make their own choices.
a Commonwealth advisor to the Commission on Gender Equality, said
women were entitled to freedom of movement and association just
like men. She said women should be allowed to choose their economic
life without any hindrances.
Action Group (WAG) executive director, Edinah Masiyiwa, said
the blitz was derailing progress the country had made towards gender
equality. "Gender inequality is what necessitated the birth
of WAG because women were being denied their freedom of movement
and association," Masiyiwa said.
still researching on this issue to try and understand what really
transpired but if it is true that they were indiscriminately arresting
women in bars, then that negates the progress we had made in the
area of gender equality.
She added: "Women
too have a right to access bars." Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) programmes manager, Dzimbabwe
Chimbga, said the organisation last Tuesday represented 17 women
who were randomly arrested as part of the operation.
were randomly picked up and accused of being ladies of the night,"
he said. "The court released them on bail. But we are saying
the law should not be blind to people's rights and freedoms."
women have a right "to be at any bar they so wish to be at
and of course at any time of the day, be it in the morning, afternoon,
evening and even at night."
He urged the
police to stop the operation forthwith saying they should only intervene
when a crime has been or is about to be committed.
Arrests only after surveillance: Sabau
spokesperson inspector, James Sabau, confirmed that the police have
an operation aimed at getting rid of touts, streets kids and prostitutes
in an effort to reduce crime in the city.
He however denied
that they were targeting innocent women in bars and night spots
insisting that the arrest are made after proper surveillance by
police in plain clothes before those in uniform effected the arrest.
not targeting innocent women at random but these arrests are done
after proper surveillance," said Sabau. "If there is
a bar owner, where police arrest women inside his or her bar, they
should come forward and make a complaint to Officer Commanding Harare
so that investigations can be carried out."
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