Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court has outlawed the arrest of women on charges of soliciting for sex in the absence of confirmation from men that they were offered the services for a fee, local media reported Saturday.
The court made the ruling Wednesday in an application by nine women who were contesting their arrest.
The women were arrested in Harare in March 2014 during an operation by police code-named “No to Robberies and Prostitution.”
The court declared the arrest and prosecution unconstitutional.
The court’s consent order read in part: “By consent, it is ordered as follows, that the prosecution and remand of the accused persons on allegations of contravening Section 81 (2) of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act (Chapter 9:23) on March 17 2014 amount to a deprivation of their personal liberty in contravention of Section 49 (1) (b) of the Constitution and are a denial of the fundamental right of the applicants to the protection of the law guaranteed under Section 56(1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.”
Women rights activists had for long complained about the gender discrimination associated with the police’s operations that had become a common feature in the capital, Harare.
Most times, women were arrested and charged with loitering for the purposes of prostitution simply on suspicion arising from wearing miniskirts.