I have written about how women contribute to abuse but today I would like to talk about the "catch 22" situation that women find themselves in as they deal with domestic violence in any form.
This post is based on a true story about an African sister (I emphasize African as I want to bring out some cultural aspects that come into play in this case). The sister has been married for more than 30 years and during that time has suffered at the hands of her violent husband. Earlier in the marriage she tried to bring to the attention of her relatives that she was being abused physically and emotionally but to no avail. She was simply told to go back to her busband and try to make peace or stick it out for the sake of her children.
The sister has been subjected to brutal beatings , verbal and emotional abuse almost everyday and the last straw was when she was threatened with death by the man she called husband and father of her children. So after 30 years she ran away and sought refuge with her relatives again. However, the response is still the same as she is being urged to go back and try to make peace with her husband.
This brings to light the unfair treatment of women in the African culture. They are far from enjoying full human rights as they are still considered as minors or objects for man's pleasure. In this case the sister's family comprised of her parents and brothers and uncles are holding meetings to deliberate on this issue and each time the conclusion is that this sister should return home to her husband and kids. In African culture, a married woman no longer belongs to her father's house but to her husband's family. So even if she has to die, it will be OK if she dies in her husband's family.
Questions beg to be raised such as:
When is Africa going to wake up to the reality of domestic violence?
How can the African woman get empowered to resist this form of abuse?
How can African men be educated about the ugly face of domestic violence.
The way I see it, our African brothers , uncles and father's are also perpetrators of domestic violence so when it affects their sisters, they do not see anything wrong with it. It is considered the normal course of life and preserving the family name takes centre stage. It is my hope that this sister will receive help from outsiders and organisations that protect the rights of women.
Mosline Farawu is a writer of spiritual and intellectual articles with a bias toward women's issues. She lives in Zimbabwe, Africa and is a mother, wife and career woman. She aspires to become a successful coach and counsellor to other women.