18 Oct 2008

A 'cheeky little devil' leads rights fight in Zimbabwe

Jenni Williams, Zimbabwe's hell-raising practitioner of nonviolent civil disobedience, was hauled from a Bulawayo jail cell during one of her 33 arrests for leading street protests against President Robert Mugabe's rule.

In a tiny office, she accused the baton-wielding police of assaulting her.

When the two officers in the room tauntingly told her she was a liar, she turned around, dropped her pants and showed them the bruises on her backside, recalled her lawyer, Perpetua Dube, who was watching.

"You can't bare your bottom to me!" one of the officers shouted, threatening to charge her with indecent exposure.

Williams - a spitfire rebel with an appreciation of the absurd - subsequently described herself in an e-mail to friends as sitting on the softest cushions she could find and "giggling in between wincing in pain."

International Herald Tribune

Jenni Williams — women's rights activist, Zimbabwe New Internationalist, Jan-Feb, 2005, by Busani Bafana