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Zimbabwean Women Face HIV Risk Following Rape As Political Violence

Health experts and others in Zimbabwe say rape and other forms of sexual abuse have become common as ruling party youth militia continue to terrorize rural and urban communities.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Morgan Tsvangirai says some 2,000 members were raped or otherwise sexually abused following March 29 elections.

Former Harare North member of parliament Trudy Stevenson has launched a campaign to raise awareness, saying she feared that rape as a political weapon would continue, urging women and girls affected to seek medical treatment to minimize the risk of infection with HIV.

"It is important for these victims and all potential know that they can get help and that they need to act quickly for the anti-HIV and emergency contraception medication to be most effective," Stevenson wrote recently in an open letter.

Dr Douglas Gwatidzo, chairman of the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights, told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that many victims may not be reporting rape due to cultural taboos, but may be in serious need of medical attention.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...