Zimbabwe - 'They All Took
Turns To Rape Me'

From Cathy Buckle

Dear Family and Friends,
Almost every day someone asks me what hope there is for Zimbabwe. I must admit that I struggle to find an answer some days but when I see the incredible bravery and outstanding work of ordinary people it gives enormous hope and inspiration. I asked a friend in the Human Rights Forum to help me update the list of names of people murdered in political violence for the roll of honour on my website.
She agreed but asked if she could also include a few details on each person so that they don't just become numbers and statistics. This alone gives me hope because it means that people care, no one has suffered in vain and every person who has died for freedom will not be forgotten - they have each taken us a step closer to democracy.
Another cause for hope came this week as the Zimbabwe Women Lawyer's Association began gathering evidence to help release women being held and sexually abused in camps run by government youths. Horrific tales are surfacing of women and girls being abducted, gang raped and used day after day by young men who clearly think they are above the law - their day of reckoning is now approaching thanks to these caring Harare lawyers.
Two women recounted their horrific tales, one, a 55 year old from Murombedzi, told how she was forced to attend a rally and gang raped when she tried to leave. "I did not do anything wrong. ... For these youths to do this to someone old enough to be their mother is unthinkable. ... They all took turns to rape me..." Another woman from Rushinga said: "How can you be a legitimate leader to me when you got that position by raping me, beating me up, burning my property, scarring my son's back, taking over my home and taking away my dignity..." .
This week has seen renewed attempts by our government to silence journalists in Zimbabwe. Under the guise of either the Public Order and Security Act or the newly passed Access to Information Bill, some of our country's bravest people have been picked up and charged with various offences. Daily News owner and editor in chief, Geoff Nyarota was arrested as was his chief reporter Pedzisai Ruhenya. The Zimbabwe Independent's Editor, Iden Wetherell and senior correspondent Dumisani Muleya were also picked up and charged. These journalists will not give up though and as our crisis deepens more and more people are joining them, finding their voices and principles and doing the right thing for Zimbabwe .
All of these things are cause for hope and help to dispel the despair that often threatens to engulf us. This week's Financial Gazette carries the story that war veterans have made new demands to the government. These include a 150% rise in their monthly pension, a 60% increase in the school fee allowance for each of their children and a new state subsidised medical aid scheme to cover war veterans and their dependants. War veteran Andrew Ndlovu also said to the Financial Gazette: "The war veterans should be appointed as ministers or deputy ministers, governors, high commissioners, district administrators and senior police officers."
Very soon now we will again see who is really in charge of Zimbabwe. Thanks as always for the messages of support and encouragement and sorry that so many of you say you aren't receiving my letter direct anymore - my email address has not changed so be persistent. Do also let me know if you would rather be taken off my mailing list.
Until next week, with love, cathy.

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