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Zimbabwe female activists often beaten, abused in police custody: report

[JURIST] Many female human rights activists in Zimbabwe [JURIST news archive] have been repeatedly arrested, unlawfully detained, and subjected to beatings at the hands of police, according to the preliminary results of surveys conducted by the advocacy group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) [advocacy website]. The WOZA report released Tuesday showed that from an initial sample of 397 WOZA members, 73 percent said they were arrested more than once, 40 percent said they were tortured while in police custody, and 26 percent said they were tortured badly enough that they subsequently required medical care. Many of the women said that while in custody they were forced to strip naked before being beaten. Some women also reported that their infant children were with them during their detentions and beatings.

Numerous international human rights groups have called for global attention to the human rights situation in Zimbabwe. In July, Amnesty International [advocacy website] released a report [text] that found human rights in Zimbabwe to be in a rapid decline since the start of the country's economic slump in 2000. The Amnesty report documented the additional hardships faced by female rights advocates in the country, saying that such women are often "held in deplorable conditions," where they are subjected to beatings as well as "sexist verbal abuse and derogatory accusations." In August, Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] urged African nations to intervene and deploy observers [JURIST report]. That same month, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum [advocacy website] said that the number of rights abuses were on pace to reaching a record high [JURIST report]. AP has more.

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