Police have identified the touts, kombi drivers and conductors who allegedly stripped and harassed a young Harare woman for ostensibly wearing a short dress last week and are appealing for her to come forward and press charges. Police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi yesterday said police had established leads towards the arrest of more touts who took part in the act.
Chief Supt Nyathi said the police had identified the culprits and were now waiting for a formal report from the victim.
“We want to thank the public for their assistance in this case and we are hoping to finalise the matter anytime if the woman comes forward,” he said.
He appealed to commuter omnibus owners not to employ touts for the safety of the public.
Women organisations on Friday condemned the harassment of the young woman by the touts and urged the police to immediately arrest the criminals.
They also called for the removal of touts from all commuter omnibus ranks.
Women Coalition board member Ms Nyaradzo Mashayamombe described the incident as barbaric.
“It might appear as an act directed at one woman, but its effect is to damage our children psychologically, dehumanise women and present us as a lawless nation,” she said.
Ms Mashayamombe said public places were no longer safe for women.
“As women of Zimbabwe, we will not stand by and watch women being harassed and humiliated,” she said.
In that regard, she called on all Government departments, law enforcement agents and the general public to condemn all forms of violence against women.
“Real men do not violate women’s rights! Those who are not real men and harass women like this belong to the Department of Prisons and Correctional Services,” she said.
Harare West legislator Ms Jessie Majome, who is also a lawyer, said the incident was criminal and violated provisions of the new Constitution.
Ms Majome said the Constitution protected every citizen against any form of violence and promoted freedom of expression and gender equality.
She called on the commuter omnibus association to do something about the continuous harassment of women, whom she said were the same people who brought them business.
SAfAIDS communications director Ms Tariro Makanga said over the last week there had been three incidents of women being humiliated through various forms and all videos went viral on social media.
“Enough is enough. This is our last time to talk as women. Now we want action,” she said.
The unidentified young lady was stripped for ostensibly wearing a short dress.
One man who tried to shield her and lead her into a kombi for safety was overpowered and also assaulted by the same touts.
The violent gang then pulled the woman out of the kombi by her legs, injuring her back in the process.
But Zimbabwe is not alone. In Nairobi, Kenya, last month, a group of men believed to be touts ripped the woman’s clothes, kicked her in her private parts and called her “Jezebel” for “tempting” them.
The video of the assault was caught on camera by a passenger and posted on the Jambonewspot website.
Kenyans immediately went to Twitter to express their disapproval of the act via #MyDressMyChoice.
“Even if a woman is wearing next to nothing, no man has the moral ground to even lay a finger on her,” posted one irate woman.
“Stripping a woman is an act of cowardice but women should also consider their dress code when at public places,” tweeted another.