Led by prominent activists – including renowned writer and politician Tsitsi Dangarembga, herself a victim of the arrests – over one hundred women rallied at the Africa Unity Square in Harare to express their anger at the ongoing injustice.
“We strongly believe that the police are interfering with women’s rights,” Dangarembga said. “The law only affects women. This is a complete human rights violation and we are calling for action now. We are going to send a petition to Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri before proceeding to his bosses, the two co-Home Affairs Ministers Kembo Mohadi and Theresa Makone."
Dangarembga said that since the “night curfew” has been introduced, women are now afraid to walk to work or to any other place, for fear of being harassed by the police. Most women who have been arrested work at service stations, hotels and nightclubs and finish only late at night.
ctivist Khumbulani Lunga said she was arrested while leaving a taxi after work. “What bothered me was that, that night, I was the only one arrested, while several males who were with me were left alone,” she said.
When she questioned the police officers about her arrest, she was told that they were arresting women only. Since it was a Friday, Lunga spent the whole weekend in a cell. She said that even showing the police her work identity card didn’t help her.
Female Students Network representative Teresa Chitapi said: “These curfews are invalid and non-relevant as women should equally enjoy fundamental freedom of movement, just like men.”
But according to police spokesperson James Sabau, they do not discriminate against women. “We have arrested some men in brothels for soliciting.” He said that the police carried out undercover operations using private vehicles, women flocked to the car, and were subsequently arrested.
Sabau also said that “it is not the duty of the police to change the law”. He added that the police will stop arresting people only if prostitution is legalised in Zimbabwe.