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Fighting Oppression In Zimbabwe (PHOTOS)

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When Alexandra Fuller arrived in Zimbabwe's capital of Harare in October 2012 to report for National Geographic, things seemed to be business as usual. But beneath the surface, fear reigned in the African nation.

Together with photographer Robin Hammond, Fuller documented the oppressive tactics of the country's regime and the devastating consequences of a crackdown on Zimbabwe's civil society.

Zimbabwean dictator and head of the Zanu-PF party Robert Mugabe came into power in 1980 and installed a regime that has relied on oppression, political violence and corruption to survive.

Violence is everywhere.

“Victims of the political violence are afraid it will resurface with every election; perpetrators of the political violence are afraid it will end,” Rutendo Munengami, an advocate for victims of rape, explained to Fuller. As an example, she told the reporter fragments of her own story:

In the early hours of June 3, 2003, Munengami—whose husband was then an MDC councillor—was torn from her bed, her nursing nine-month-old son still in her arms. While soldiers looked on, Munengami told me, she was raped by a prominent ZANU-PF minister. Afterward, the minister drove her to a police station in Harare, where she and her son were dangled over a pit of acid while the soldiers decided whether or not to kill her. “They wanted to throw the baby to the ground,” Munengami said. “They shouted, ‘He will be the same as the father. He will want to give the country to the white man.’”

“The government won’t help us. No one can help us. It is up to us, ourselves, now. That is where we are," Munengami said.

Along with another activist, Margaret Mazvarira, Munengami launched Doors of Hope, a nonprofit that aims to support victims of politically motivated rape. "We have had enough. We are sick and tired of being quiet. Where has silence got us?” Munengami added.

Read Alexandra Fuller's full story in the May issue of National Geographic Magazine.Take a look at Robin Hammond's photos from Zimbabwe in the slideshow below, and visit the National Geographic website for more images.

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