7 July 2013

Zimbabwe: Police Raid Bars, Arrest Women Only

In a move that has been condemned as a violation of women's rights, police on Thursday wantonly arrested women at different bars in the central business district.

Well before dark, police officers raided City Sports Bar at the corner of Raleigh and Kaguvi streets in Harare and arrested all women that were in the bar except for the waitresses.

Their next stop was Khule's Bar where they arrested Cassablanca Dance Group, who were already on stage performing for the patrons.

The proprietor of Khule's Bar who identified himself only as Chaka lamented the raid and said he incurred losses due to the arrests.

"They came in before dark and arrested the girls who were on stage. They were taken to Harare Central Police Station where the police kept them until after 8pm," said Chaka.

"I had to pay a US$10 fine for each of the five girls, but we had already lost time."

He said the dancers were charged with indecent exposure although their attire had been approved by Dancers Association of Zimbabwe (DAZ), whose representatives were present at the police station.

DAZ is affiliated to the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe and abides to censorship regulations.

"I think the charge was flimsy because they were dressed better than other groups that we see performing elsewhere."

A manager from one of the bars who refused to be identified for fear of victimisation said the officers entered the bar and arrested all women.

"I was surprised to see them invading the bar giving orders to the girls who were inside to accompany them to Harare Central [Police Station]," he said.

He added that he also received calls from bar managers around the city narrating the same ordeal.

"What makes the matter complicated is they came around 5pm. Their raids are usually concentrated on the outside."

Harare Provincial Police Spokesperson Tadious Chibanda said they were arresting suspected hookers who were soliciting for sex outside the bars.

"As police we arrest women who loiter outside soliciting, not that we get into bars and arrest them," said Chibanda.

Another bar manager who also refused to be named however said he had been told by sources at the police that the arrests were made so that the officers can meet their daily targets of revenue collected in the form of fines.

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