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Zimbabweans Welcome ConCourt Ruling on Prostitution Arrests

Zimbabwe Police

The days of police crackdowns in which women were being targeted for alleged prostitution are over.

This after the Constitutional Court on Wednesday outlawed police’s dragnet operations in which women were being arrested in the avenues area in the capital, Harare, on allegations of soliciting for paid sex.

The court ruled that in the absence of a man, who claims to have been approached, women’s arrests are unconstitutional.

The women argued that they are a vulnerable group and also contended that their right to personal liberty guaranteed in Section 49 of the constitution and their right to equal protection and benefit of the law has been violated.

Lawyer, David Hofisi of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said the ruling is significant.

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Mojalifa Mokoele of the Zimbabwe Sexual Rights Center welcoming the court ruling.

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Crackdowns on alleged prostitution have been a staple of Zimbabwe police departments for decades, starting in the 1980s with Operation Chinyavada or "Scorpion", which rounded up commercial sex workers in the early years after independence.

After a long pause, police resumed the crackdowns, starting with Chipo Chiroorwa ("chipo get married"), Operation chengetedza hunhu ("maintain your dignity"), and Operation dyira bonus kumba ("take your bonus money home") in December 2013.

The women who took the police to the Constitution Court were arrested under “Operation zvanyanya,” or Operation it’s too much”.