By Mutsa Makuvaza
A POLICE officer in Rusape had to resort to his handcuffs to restrain a 27-year-old local woman who punched him with fists after he proposed to her.
The police officer later dragged the woman, Nomatter to, a local police station and filed charges against her claiming she resisted lawful arrest on an undisclosed issue.
The matter spilled into the courts with Rusape magistrate Rufaro Mangwiro acquittin Nomatter Chikunguru aftera full trial.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), who represented the former Gwindingi High School student, said she was on trial simply for spiteful vengeance “after the law enforcement agent’s sexual advances towards her were rebuffed”.
Chikunguru was arrested on 9 April by some unnamed ZRP officers and charged with assaulting or resisting a peace officer as defined in section 176 of the Criminal Code, ZLHR said yesterday.
According to a 2020 report by Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ), more than half of Zimbabwean women surveyed said they had been forced to offer sexual favours in exchange for jobs, medical care and even when seeking placements at schools for their children.
The report also fingers police especially male officers as among top sexual harassment offenders in society.
“57.5% of these respondents noted that sexual favours are the form of non-monetary bribe they had experienced. Sextortion is thus a part of the bribery culture in Zimbabwe. Women who do not have money to pay for bribes are thus forced to use sex as a form of payment. 15% used employment favours as a form of bribery,” reads the report.
Women in business were also found to have faced sexual harassment when seeking government tenders.
“When they see a woman, for most of them sex is the first thing that comes to their mind. Hence women are sexualised and seen as sex-preneurs rather than entrepreneurs,” TIZ reports.
Sextortion is a global phenomenon that causes serious harm, robbing women of dignity and opportunity, and undermining confidence in public institutions, according to rights groups.
Zimbabwe ranks 158 out of 180 countries included in the Transparency International corruption perceptions index.
“Sex is a currency in many corrupt deals in Zimbabwe. Sexual harassment is institutionalised, and women have been suffering for a long time. There is need to actively deal with all forms of sexual harassment in all sectors,” says the report.
The study shows women are being coerced into corruption, while many fear reporting sextortionists as some police are thought to be part of the corruption chain.
“For some respondents it was fear of reprisal that stopped them from reporting whilst others indicated that there was no reward for reporting corruption. Regarding sextortion, respondents cited the justice system as too masculine, hence they opted not to report.
“All the key informants who took part in the research indicated that Zimbabwe lacks a robust corruption reporting system. They also highlighted the need for a system to promote and protect whistleblowers,” TIZ reported. – Zimbabwe Voice ■