Toronto's Globe and Mail on Monday examined efforts by the advocacy group AIDS-Free World to address politically driven, widespread rapes in Zimbabwe that followed the country's first round of presidential elections in March.
In August, AIDS-Free World launched an investigation into a two-week period of rapes following the election and is continuing those efforts. Stephen Lewis -- former United Nations Ambassador for AIDS in Africa and head of AIDS-Free World -- is leading a team of international human rights lawyers that is collecting testimonials from women who were raped, tortured or beaten. The Globe and Mail reports that the group is working with other women's organizations in the country to identify rape survivors and provide them with HIV tests and medical care. Over the past week, eight women have provided testimony to the human-rights lawyers and said that their attackers openly identified themselves as members of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party. The women also reported that their attackers said they were being raped because of their support for opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change. Lewis said, "The affidavits bear out that these attacks were directed at the political opposition in a very methodical way -- the women chosen were chosen because they were part of the political opposition and the links made to ZANU-PF are unassailable."
The evidence has allowed the women to find support through one another and form a Zimbabwe Rape Survivor's Network to speak out about their attacks, according to Betty Makoni of the Girl Child Network in Zimbabwe (Nolen, Globe and Mail, 11/10).
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