Dispatch from South Africa: RAU and WITNESS on campaign for justice for women of Zimbabwe

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In August, we asked you to join us in the Hear Us, Stand With Us campaign and support the women of Zimbabwe in their call for justice and accountability (more background below).

Your support has been truly amazing - in just two weeks, thousands of people added their voices to the campaign on Facebook and the Hub, more than 1600 people signed the petition and twitition, and hundreds of tweets and retweets on Twitter reached over 90,000 people across the world.

The message to the Zimbabwean government and to the members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) was loud and clear: stop politically motivated sexual violence against women, end impunity, and provide assistance to the women who have survived this type of violence.

Last week, WITNESS' Bukeni Waruzi traveled to South Africa to meet with Memory - a Zimbabwean woman who shared her testimony in the video Hear Us - and with representatives from WITNESS partner Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU) and the Institute for Democracy in Africa (IDASA).

Together, they delivered the petitions, held press conferences, and met with key members of SADC.  In this video, Kuda from RAU gives us an update of the week in South Africa and looks forward to the next steps in the campaign.

Stay tuned for more news as the campaign develops.  In the meantime, THANK YOU for standing with us!

BACKGROUND: In 2008, political violence erupted throughout Zimbabwe as a result of highly contested national elections. Between May and July alone, local organizations estimate that state-sanctioned groups abducted, raped, tortured, and beat over 2,000 women and girls due to their political affiliations. Local police have ignored these women's pleas for protection, justice, and accountability, and national leaders have been equally unresponsive. Hear Us - a video co-produced by Zimbabwean RAU and WITNESS - features four of these women who have come forward to demand justice from the Zimbabwean government and the SADC. The 2009 SADC summit was held in Kinshasa, DR Congo, from September 2-8 2009 and your messages of support were delivered to key SADC members in the lead-up to the meeting. 

In the meantime, the campaign will go on and we'll conitnue posting new updates here as they become available. You can still show your support for the women of Zimbabwe by helping spread the word about this campaign and leaving a comment in the fields below.

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