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Zimbabwe Police Seek Woman-Stripping Assailants

FILE: Police leave a scene after throwing teargas at a house in Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2011.

Police in Harare have issued a public service alert calling on ordinary people to provide information that can lead to the arrest of touts who last week shocked the world by harassing and abusing a young woman they deemed was improperly dressed.

Police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi told VOA Studio 7 that investigations into the matter have started but most importantly, they want the young woman in a widely circulated video to go to the nearest police station so she can help with investigations.

Women and rights groups want the authorities to take swift action on the matter.

Chief Superintendent Nyathi said police have intensified their investigation into the matter, which has been condemned worldwide.

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Meanwhile, Katswe Sisterhood, a women rights group, has joined the call by other activists for the mysterious young women who was accosted by touts at Fourth Street rank in Harare to come forward and report her case to the police.

The young lady’s images were splashed all over social media last week but so far she has not been identified.

Talent Jumo of Katswe Sisterhood said although her organisation is working with police on the matter, they have not yet succeeded in identifying the young woman.

"We hope that she will be able to come forward because we have lawyers, counselors and therapists waiting to offer her services that we feel she needs as she was a violence victim and may have withdrawn into her shell as a coping mechanism," said Jumo.

Jumo’s organisation staged a mini-skirt March in Harare in October as a way of raising awareness on the importance of the women’s rights to wear whatever they want without harassment.

Meanwhile, women's rights activists under the Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe met in Harare Friday to discuss the way forward.

The women declared war on the touts vowing to intensify efforts to make sure that the touts that committed the horrendous crime will be brought to book.

The women also said they will use social media to make sure that their message is heard and urgent action is taken.

"As Katswe we are going to be launching a toll-free line that we hope people will use to report such incidents so that the police are involved and such crimes are stopped," said Ms Jumo.

She, however, added it was everyone's responsibility to call in the police when they witness such abuse incidents.

Although the mini-skirt march drew different reactions in October, Jumo said they are now beginning to see the fruits of the event.

"The march was effective in starting the debate on freedom of dressing for women," she noted.

The police are calling on all those who may have information on the touts or the mysterious victim to call any police station.

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