Zimbabwe under President Robert Mugabe has been widely considered a repressive political regime. With the government violently cracking down on voices of dissent, human rights activists are a rarity. But since its founding in 2003, one organization has succeeded in gathering more than 40,000 members who believe in the prospects of peaceful political change: Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA). In defiance of repressive laws curtailing public gatherings, this women’s empowerment movement stages non-violent street protests to agitate for bread-and-butter issues. In Demonstrating Under Dictatorship, we march with the women of WOZA in a public demonstration and hear their harrowing testimonies of being beaten by police in jail.
Last October, subsequent to Robyn Kriel’s filming, WOZA leaders Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu were arrested at a protest and charged with disturbing the peace. They may remain in custody until their trial date on February 26, 2009.