The thing the vast majority of women victims of violence have in common are that their attackers were not strangers but people they know such as intimate partners, family members, friends and acquaintances, says the writer. File photo

Harare - Zimbabwe’s Supreme Court has ruled that the state was liable for failing to provide a rape survivor with emergency contraception, and ordered the government to pay damages.

The landmark decision came after a woman was raped and sought a lawful termination of her pregnancy.

“The Supreme Court judgment is a significant victory for women’s sexual and reproductive rights in Zimbabwe,” said Nyasha Chingore, project lawyer at the Johannesburg-based Southern Africa Litigation Centre, which supported the case.


The case was launched by Mildred Mapingure, who was raped in 2006. She sought emergency contraception within 72 hours to ensure that she did not become pregnant. Pollce delayed Mapingure’s application for contraception and a doctor was unable to distinguish between termination of pregnancy and emergency contraception.

Having failed to prevent the pregnancy, Mapingure then sought a lawful termination. As a victim of rape, she was eligible for an abortion under Zimbabwe’s Termination of Pregnancy Act.

But due to delays, she could not get the court order in time, and gave birth.

Cape Times