WOZA, Zimbabwe - Write for Rights 2011

November 15, 2011

WOZA, Zimbabwe - Write for Rights 2011

Since February 2003, women belonging to the women's rights organisation Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) have repeatedly been arrested by the Zimbabwe police while taking part in peaceful demonstrations to protest the worsening social, economic and human rights situation in the country. They have been subjected to intimidation, harassment, and ill-treatment by police officers. Many of those arrested have later been released without charge, but some have been charged under repressive legislation such as the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and the Miscellaneous Offences Act (MOA). Women with babies, children and a heavily pregnant woman have been among those arrested.

The treatment of WOZA illustrates the government's increasing intolerance of peaceful public demonstrations expressing criticism of government policies. It also highlights the malicious use of the law, particularly the combination of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and Miscellaneous Offences Act (MOA), to allow arbitrary arrests and detentions and to facilitate a range of other human rights violations by the police.

Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu were detained for 13 days between 21 September 2011 and 4 October 2011 after being arrested after participating in a peaceful march. They have been charged with "kidnapping and theft" and are due to appear in court on 12 December 2011.

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