Zim police cells not women friendly – Jestina Mukoko

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By Staff Reporter

PROMINENT rights activist Jestina Mukoko says Zimbabwean police cells do not have ablution facilities specific to the needs of women detainees.

Mukoko, who chairs the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, told the situation denigrated women.

Police cells are meant to hold prisoners for periods of not more than two days as they wait to be taken to court.

“Those places of detention are really not gender sensitive; they are not made for women.” said Mukoko.

The Zimbabwe Peace Project director, once abducted and held in a secret location by state agents over unproven coup plot claims later dropped, spoke about her own experiences in a police cell.

“I was kept at Matapi Police Station…there are no facilities to bath. You just wake up in this room where you are sharing a blanket with everyone who comes in and out.

“You spend the whole night pulling it (blanket) if you are able to, on top of you.

“The toilet bucket system is there for those who have diarrhoea because of change of environment, some of them in their (menstrual) periods…there is no place to bath.”

Mukoko added, “You can’t even get water, you can’t even get food and that’s the situation, and it’s very difficult for a woman to be able to manage in those situations.

“But obviously, I am not saying women should be looked at in a different way from men but I think it’s just a recognition that we have requirements and demands that are different to those of men.”

In their Rights Behind Bars, a 2018 study on prison conditions in Zimbabwe 2018, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum said there was overcrowding in some local prisons with high risks of disease outbreaks.

The report further said Zimbabwean prisons were experiencing shortages of detergents, body lotion and other washing aides.

Inmates relied on what they received from relatives and well-wishers.