December 14, 2009
President Robert Mugabe used a brutal campaign of "sexual terror" to maintain his hold on Zimbabwe's presidency in the most recent election, an AIDS activist group is reporting.
Mugabe supporters perpetrated 380 rapes upon some 70 Zimbabwe women who backed Mugabe's opposition or were closely tied to those who did, said the report by AIDS-Free World. Ten of the women said they became pregnant after the attacks and nine told investigators they became infected with HIV. Seventeen others also tested positive for HIV. At least one-third of Zimbabwe's population is HIV-positive.
AIDS-Free World is led by Stephen Lewis, UNAIDS' former special envoy for AIDS in Africa, and is supported by law school professors and students. Investigators traveled to the region six times to research the report, "Electing to Rape."
"Many of the women were forced to watch their husbands, children, and parents killed or tortured before they [the women] were raped," the report said.
"Electing to Rape" is being released in South Africa by Lewis and others. It comes in anticipation of Zimbabwe's elections next year.
"Continued impunity will be a green light for the next rape campaign and the women of Zimbabwe -- and the southern African region -- will pay the price," the report says.
Mugabe and others in his party, ZANU-PF, should be prosecuted, AIDS-Free World urged.
"Robert Mugabe is among the world's masterminds of sexual terror. He understands gender; he understands rape. He understands impunity. It is time he understood justice," the report said.
The full report is available at www.aids-freeworld.org.