THE African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) has expressed concern over political tensions triggering physical and cyber-attacks against women ahead of the August 23 elections.
In a statement yesterday, ACHPR said the attacks were targeting voters and members of opposition political parties.
“The ACHPR notes that allegations of persistent online violence targeting women, often stem from the root causes of offline violence, and in many instances, escalate to physical harm,” ACHPR said.
The AU organ implored government to curb use of hate speech that incites violence.
“To safeguard the women who bravely express their political views despite facing continuous challenges both online and offline, the government of Zimbabwe should endeavour to strengthen its efforts in combating hate speech and harmful content that fuel animosity and incite violence against women in politics.
“The ACHPR emphasises the importance of safeguarding the online space to ensure women’s active participation in the political sphere without facing attacks. By doing so, we encourage women to continue being an integral part of the digital world.
“The ACHPR also received reports about women allegedly experiencing gender-based violence and discrimination due to their own affiliation or that of their relatives with opposition political parties,” said the organisation.
ACHPR urged government and political parties to use available measures to discourage any form of verbal and physical violence that suppress the free participation of individuals, especially women.
“This distressing situation not only jeopardises the lives and well-being of these women but also poses a significant threat to the credibility of the election and the democratic values within the country.”
Meanwhile, police have warned political parties and their supporters against political violence.
“The police warns individuals and groups engaging in any form of political violence or issuing threats to commit violence or damage property, that they will be arrested without fear or favour irrespective of one’s political affiliation or stature, for the law to take its course,” police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said in a statement.