2 About this report This report focuses on the circumstances of women human rights defenders in Zimbabwe. It explores their motivations and objectives. It documents human rights violations experienced by women human rights defenders, and the tools of repression used by the government to crush dissent. The report also looks at the government of Zimbabwe’s obligations under regional and international human rights treaties, and makes recommendations to the government of Zimbabwe, the Southern Africa Development Community and the international community, particularly the African Union. Amnesty International understands human right defenders to be people who act to promote and protect human rights. They may be victims and survivors of human rights violations themselves, or friends or relatives of victims of human rights violations seeking to redress the violations suffered by their relatives. Alternatively, they may be journalists, lawyers, members of human rights organizations or politicians who speak out against government repression, who are working for the promotion and protection of human rights for all. They are human rights defenders because of what they do, not because of their job or profession. Article 12 of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders recognizes the right of everyone "individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms." It places an obligation on the state to "take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights." The bulk of the information in the report was gathered during a three-week mission by Amnesty International to Zimbabwe in February and March 2007. Amnesty International interviewed 59 women in Bulawayo, Insiza district in Matabeleland South province, Masvingo, Chivi district in Masvingo province, Mutare, Chegutu and Harare. Delegates interviewed professional women and student activists, women from townships and rural areas. The women ranged in age from late teens to women in their 60s. Amnesty International also interviewed male human rights defenders who are experiencing similar constraints and violations. Amnesty International made several requests for meetings with government officials, in writing and in person, but failed to secure a single interview. Some of the names of the people mentioned in this report have been changed in order to protect their identity. Context Zimbabwe is in the midst of what the World Bank has called unprecedented economic decline for a country in peacetime.(7) The country also has one of the highest prevalence rates of HIV and AIDS cases in the world, and more than a million children have been orphaned by the AIDS pandemic.(8) The pandemic has also had a serious impact on a large number of households, since many individuals suffering from AIDS are less able to contribute to household income. In addition, erratic rainfall, coupled with shortages of farming inputs such as seeds and fertilizers, have led to a significant reduction in food production, making it difficult for families to find resources to pay for healthcare.(9) Zimbabwe is ranking 151, out of 177 countries, on the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index.(10) The standard of living in Zimbabwe, including average life expectancy (currently 36.6 years) is at its lowest level in over thirty years;(11) 45% of the population is malnourished, one of the highest rates in the world.(12) Zimbabwe is experiencing hyperinflation which translates to daily increases in the prices of basic goods and services. By the end of April 2007 the country’s annual inflation rate had reached 3713%.(13) In contrast, household incomes have remained static. The majority of the women interviewed by Amnesty International came from households that provide care to children who have been orphaned by the AIDS pandemic. With no assistance from the state or NGOs, the women have to feed and pay for the education of both their own children and of other children under their care. Two thirds of female-headed households care for orphans and vulnerable children.(14) Human rights concerns related to access to food and housing The Zimbabwe government’s policies on land reform and mass forced evictions have resulted in a significant reduction in the capacity of many households to access the rights to adequate food, education, healthcare and housing. The fast-track land reform programme,(15) which began in 2000, and the 2005 programme of

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