Police in Bulawayo on Friday detained members of activist group, Women of Zimbabwe Arise, including leaders Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, after the group presented a petition at Mhlanhlandlela Government Complex in Bulawayo demanding fair treatment of women and children as a way of marking the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.
The group’s attorney, Kossam Ncube, told Studio 7 the women were released from Drill Hall and Central Police stations without any charges preferred against them, after he indicated to the police that continued detention is illegal.
WOZA leader Jenni Williams said the group was marching to mark Women Human Rights Defenders 2013, which is celebrated on November 29 as part of the ongoing 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence.
Williams said about 100 members of her group staged separate marches but only two managed to reach the Mhlahlandlela Government Complex to deliver the petition as baton-stick-wielding anti-riot police dispersed the rest, beating them in the process.
In a statement detailing the contents of the group's petition, Williams said the demands followed a survey among 7,180 WOZA members in Harare and Bulawayo, which revealed that economic hardships including lack of jobs and food contribute to domestic violence.
“About 81% of WOZA Harare and Bulawayo members do not believe that women are respected and do not believe that violence against them has ceased. 89% of members do not believe that they will be able to benefit from the Zanu-PF’s indigenization policies, and 68,2% expressed that the police harassment and criminalization of women informal traders must stop for socio economic growth but many called for job creation as an alternative,” said Williams.
She added that WOZA made additional recommendations on a number of premises that include devolution, activation of the constitution, working public institutions, community involvement, civic education as well as justice and fairness.