Zimbabwe Police Think Strong Women Deserve Men's Prison

Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu

In November of last year, the Zimbabwe Supreme Court ruled Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) leaders Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu were wrongfully arrested and detained following a peaceful protest in 2008. As a result, their rights and fundamental freedoms were violated and the state failed to protect them from this abuse.

This was a pretty landmark holding and I am so proud of Jenni and Magodonga for standing up for their rights and the rights of all Zimbabweans; for educating people about their rights, encouraging people to demand those rights, and fighting back through peaceful, legal means when those rights are violated. Unfortunately, because of these efforts, Jenni, Magodonga, the other members of WOZA and MOZA (Men of Zimbabwe Arise) and many other human rights defenders in Zimbabwe are regularly targeted by the police and other government officials.

In February, violence and repression escalated sharply by government actors. Forty-five persons were arrested for gathering to watch video footage of the Egypt and Tunisia uprisings; six continue to face treason charges, punishable by death. Multiple members of WOZA/MOZA have been arrested on the street and in private houses. Both groups of detainees allege torture at the hands of the police. Abel Chikomo, director of Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum is being sought by the police and today was charged with running an illegal organization.

And police have visited the residences of Jenni and Magodonga several times. A human rights lawyer at court representing other WOZA/MOZA detainees was told by police to inform Jenni and Magodonga they should prepare for a long detention…in a men’s prison because they are too strong of women to be contained in the women’s prison. As Jenni pointed out, a perverse sort of compliment.

It’s time for everyone to be equally strong and demand security sector reform in Zimbabwe. It’s time for everyone to be strong and demand Zimbabwe’ unity government guarantor’s take steps to end political violence in Zimbabwe. It’s time to stand strong in solidarity with Jenni and Magodonga and demand police do what the Supreme Court said they must: protect the citizens of Zimbabwe. Help keep Jenni, Magodonga and all Zimbabweans safe from abuse by taking action now!

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5 thoughts on “Zimbabwe Police Think Strong Women Deserve Men's Prison

  1. I am in awe of your courage Jenni & Magodonga!!! Stand your ground! Your courage will help all woman in the world that here your story & become inspired to take action. I hope that here in my own country that I too will be courageous enough to follow your example agaings the injustices that surround us.
    May you be strengthen in your efforts to stand for what's right. My heart & prayers are with you!

  2. I am in awe of your courage Jenni & Magodonga!!! Stand your ground! Your courage will help all woman in the world that here your story & become inspired to take action. I hope that here in my own country that I too will be courageous enough to follow your example agaings the injustices that surround us.
    May you be strengthen in your efforts to stand for what’s right. My heart & prayers are with you!

  3. Unless a REAL crime has been committed, women should not be imprisoned. What a ridiculous idea to throw women in prison for beng strong. I support anyone brave enough to stand up for rights without worrying about repercussions. Bless these women.

  4. Unless a REAL crime has been committed, women should not be imprisoned. What a ridiculous idea to throw women in prison for beng strong. I support anyone brave enough to stand up for rights without worrying about repercussions. Bless these women.