By Leopold Munhende
A report by the Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) has revealed how some soldiers and police officers on duty are in the habit of cordoning off the Marange Diamond Fields and abusing women.
The report claims the security forces were also in the habit of betting on who gets to rape which woman in the area.
The research paper titled; “Power and Politics: Extractives and Violence against Women in Zimbabwe” seeks to bring to the fore, matters involving abuse of women in the diamond rich Marange and other mining areas.
It traces the history of violence from between 2005 and 2008 when artisanal diamond mining was allowed, and 2009 when government moved in to take over all mining claims by deploying state security agencies to disperse the local miners.
“Between November 2006 and October 2008 police killed, tortured, beat, harassed and set their dogs on artisanal miners in raids intended to drive them from the fields,” the report says.
“Police also assaulted and arrested local community members in areas around diamond fields, holding them in makeshift police camps for four to seven days before taking them to Mutare to be further detained.
“We have an example of three women who were fetching water at a village well and were stopped by two policemen with dogs,” reads the report.
“They were accused of fetching water and cooking for miners, dogs were set on them and all suffered dog bites on their breasts.
“Women living in villages on the diamond fields suffered sexual abuse and degrading treatment by the police stationed at Marange.
“It was gathered that police would amuse themselves by fighting over women and gambling on them, the winner’s prize was to rape the woman for the night.”
Some of the women are said to have been captured and forced to do laundry and cook for police officers and soldiers.
In 2005, an operation by almost 800 state security agents including an armed ground force and soldiers in helicopters accounted for some 200 artisanal miners’ deaths as government struggled to remove them from the rich fields.
The agents fired live ammunition into pits and threw teargas to drive them off the fields.
The government then relocated families from the Marange area, their home of origin to Arda Transau to pave way for massive diamond mining.
Some women, desperate to take care of their families while surviving on artisanal mining of the precious stone from its discovery in 2005, are said to be falling victim to state security officers in the area who demand sexual favours to let them enter the fields.