A lot of innocent women have suffered. Normally, the women are taken to police stations, particularly on Fridays and Saturdays, where they are coerced to pay admission of guilt fines. The hapless women mostly pay the fines – because they cannot stand the idea of spending a whole weekend in filthy police cells, not because they are guilty.
There have been reports of men divorcing their wives after they were rounded up, thanks to this barbaric application of the law by our police force.
Some of the unfortunate women have been on their way home from work, social gatherings or even prayer sessions. Their crime is that they are walking in the absence of men. There is no chance of the state securing a conviction against these women if their cases were taken to court.
Just recently, Harare Police Spokesperson, James Sabau, naively announced that they arrested women they suspected to be loitering on the basis of being skimpily dressed. To start with, there is no hard and fast definition of skimpy dress. Second, there is no law in Zimbabwe that criminalises so-called skimpy dressing.
Sabau also vainly tried to define loitering by saying that a woman who rushes to a stranger’s car must be a loiterer and a prostitute. This pedestrian reasoning betrays the police’s incompetence.
They should know that this indiscriminate rounding up of women is a flagrant human rights violation, degrading the dignity of women in general.
The Police Commissioner, Augustine Chihuri, should sit down with his subordinates and in no uncertain terms tell them to stop this harassment of women. How would he feel if his wife, daughter or sister were to be arrested in the same way these innocent women are being rounded up?Post published in: Editor: Wilf Mbanga