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TIZ decries ‘sextortion’ of women at water sources

TRANSPARENCY International Zimbabwe (TIZ) has decried sextortion of women at water collection points, saying that corrupt public officials were taking advantage of vulnerable women seeking water to sexually exploit them. BY LORRAINE MUROMO In their latest report on gender and corruption released this week, the TIZ said sextortion happened at boreholes and other open sources where women usually flock in search of water. This comes after several reports indicated that women were being abused while searching for water in Harare’s Mabvuku and Tafara high-density suburbs. “Most urban areas in Zimbabwe are experiencing water shortages. This is partly attributed to corruption in the sector, as resources meant to rehabilitate water infrastructure are diverted to non-essential acquisitions such as purchasing motor vehicles for public officials,” the TIZ report read. “While some households in the middle- to low-density areas have managed to drill boreholes, the ordinary women are left with no choice but to look for alternative sources of water at community boreholes and other open sources … further widening the gender inequality and looking for further alternative sources of water which has further exposed women to another form of gendered corruption known as sextortion,” it said. The report said Zimbabwe was ranked as number 126 out of 162 countries on the gender inequality index, whereby, structural and institutional barriers, formal and informal political systems and general cultural perceptions continue to widen the gap between men and women, thus contributing to a difference in impact of policies. They said there was need for feminisation of the anti-corruption discourse so that women also became active in democratic processes. “Corruption in the health sector has also exacerbated the plight of women in Zimbabwe. Due to their roles as primary care-givers, women are in most instances the ones attending to the health needs of their families and thus interact with and rely on public health institutions. Corruption in general has contributed to the dilapidated state of public health institutions both in terms of infrastructure and availability of medicines, thus exerting added pressures on women to find alternatives.” The anti-corruption lobby group said due to their unique reproductive and sexual health needs, women relied more on health facilities where the impact of corruption in Zimbabwe is amplified as they seek healthcare. “For example, seven out of 10 babies at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals were stillborn. This was at a time nurses and doctors were on strike protesting for better working conditions. Corruption in this regard also has a bearing on the infant mortality rate,” TIZ said. lFollow Lorraine on Twitter @lorrainemuromo

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