Gender Commission dismisses military is abusing of Cyclone Idai victims

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By Costa Nkomo

THE Zimbabwe’s Gender Commission, has dismissed claims by aid agencies and civil society groups, that the country’s military has been involved in the sexual abuse of survivors of the Cyclone Idai disaster in Chimanimani.

Chairperson, Margaret Sangarwe-Mukahanana, however said the Commission would still continue with investigations into the claims adding reports of partisan distribution of food aid were baseless.

“There are also of sexual harassment during food and non-food aid distribution although this could not be immediately substantiated during our short visit.

“The the Commission is considering carrying out thorough investigations into these allegations. Should such allegations be proven, the Gender Commission will facilitate measures to bring perpetrators to book,” Sangarwe-Mukahanana said.

According to Sangarwe-Mukahanana, security at holding camps were thousands of victims of the tropical storm are sheltered was a cause for concern.

“There is no security around the camps. We noted that there was no security around the camps. The camp manager knocks off at 6pm and no security is provided during the night, which may pose security risk especially to women and children.

“There was also no perimeter fencing around the camp, so trespassers could come in and out of the camp without control especially at night since these tents are not secured and this may expose victims to violence a well sexual abuse by trespassers,” he said.

The Gender Commission boss said interviews with affected individuals had drawn blacks as regards claims of politicisation of food aid.

“We never heard nothing along those lines from all the people we interviewed, even in the focus group discussions.

“No one ever mentioned that food distribution was on party lines. I am hearing it for the first time here. In fact even in the papers I have not heard any such,” she said.

Aid agencies however have consistently warned that the presence of the military two months after Cyclone Idai slammed into south-eastern Manicaland posed threats to women and girls amid reports some had been abused in exchange for aid.