Civil society accuses authorities of violence against women in informal commerce

Sociedade civil acusa autoridades de violência contra mulheres do comércio informal

The Women's Observatory, a group of Mozambican civil society organizations, repudiated this Friday the alleged violence of the authorities against women in informal commerce, pointing out that the alleged repression slows down the fight against poverty in which the victims live.

"The violations we denounce today constitute human rights violations of alarming proportions," Quitéria Guirrengane, executive director of the Women's Observatory, said in a statement she read to the media in Maputo.

Quitéria Guirrengane accused the police forces of illicitly appropriating merchandise and revenues from women who sell in the informal sector, under the pretext that they are combating commerce in prohibited areas.

"It is this same poverty that leads thousands of women and children to the informal sector, but we continually receive complaints, mostly from Nampula, Sofala and Maputo, that when women are on the street, the municipal police confiscate their goods, when they are in the markets, they confiscate their revenues," Guirrengane told Lusa.

The abuses, he continued, are more recurrent in the three main Mozambican cities, namely Maputo, the capital, Beira, the so-called second capital, and Nampula, the country's third largest city.

The authorities' action "is counter-sense", because it slows down the fight against poverty, repeatedly assumed by the Government as a priority, he emphasized.

The Women's Observatory pointed to the case of vendors who were transferred from the old fish market, which began as a cluster of informal stalls selling seafood, to a new market, built by the municipality of Maputo.

In the new market, the vendors are forced to pay exorbitant rent and fees, and there are cases where two or more sell in the same kiosk, due to the limited space.

On the other hand, the capital's municipal authorities now refuse to compensate the vendors for the expropriation of the old market, accuses the Observatory.

About this claim, which has been the cause of protests by the vendors of the fish market, the mayor of Maputo, Éneas Comiche, made it known this week that there is no place for compensation for the removal of the old market, because the land is part of the urban land and had been informally occupied.

In the face of alleged abuses by the authorities against women who operate in informal commerce, the Women's Observatory assured that it will resort to the courts for the restoration of rights allegedly violated and criminal and civil accountability of the perpetrators.

He also urged the administrative and judicial institutions to investigate on their own initiative and establish responsibility.

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