Sunday, 29 January 2012

Till Fists Do Us Part: The Domestic Violence Dilemma

 “A 27-Year-old woman of John Howard compound has been stabbed to death by her husband after a quarrel over their one year old daughter.
The woman identified as Dailes Bubala was stabbed by her husband after she told him that he was not the father to their daughter”- Zambian Watchdog
Almost on a weekly basis the media reports that another woman has died at the hands of a lover either a husband or boyfriend. The murders are becoming more gruesome by the day and resemble something from a horror movie. The events that lead these women to their fate are often trivial matters such as cold food to presumed disrespect, a jealous husband to a marital argument. None of which are worthy to take someone’s life or are they?
            The Zambia Police reports that in the last two months 13 women have been battered to death. This is despite the aggressive campaign against Gender Based Violence in November 2011. These are women who have been killed by bare hands, hacked, bludgeoned, strangled and stabbed. The men turned into beasts during the act and always sound remorse when they realise the gravity of what they have just done. It is either that there has been an increase in domestic violence over the last few years or it has always been there and it is only now that the media is bringing it to light.  Whatever, it is there is no denying that domestic violence is a major problem in our society.
            Traditionally women have been told to be submissive, and any indiscipline should be corrected by the husband with a smack or a punch. Sadly some even believe that if their men do not beat them then they are not loved. This has led to a very common phrase which often refers to marriage; ‘Shipikisha Club’ translated ‘Endure Club’. This literally means that whatever rubbish the husband does, cheats on the wife or beats her to a pulp, she should just go with the flow. As a man I wonder that don’t these women see the signs or the writing on the wall.
            Researchers say that if any form of abuse happens while dating then it is likely to occur again. Surely, women should be able to see this; they are the ones on the receiving end most of the time. I am left with drawing up my own conclusions. These include, women believe that once they marry the man, then he will change. It is a very colossal feat to believe that a man’s patterns will simply change once they are married. The other reason is that maybe the women choose to ignore whatever abuse they endure perhaps blinded by love. Their undying love for we men, appears to make them overlook our flaws. Then there are those who know exactly what they are entering into but because of society’s overwhelming pressure on women to get married or risk been ostracized they accept whatever chaff comes their way.
            In domestic violence cases, there are also the silent victims who are often overlooked, the children. Even though the children may not necessarily be physically abused they experience perhaps the worst kind of abuse, which is emotional abuse. They get to witness their parents tussling away as they hear their mother’s screams of anguish and pain. These are images that will be with them for a very long time. For some they are scarred for life. I can barely imagine the emotional torture a child would have to go through to explain to his friends that his mother was killed at the hands of his father and the father is serving out a jail sentence. Then for some they grow up believing that is the way it is supposed to be. The son’s will beat their wives and the daughters will accept being beaten by their husbands.
            It still baffles many that why these women don’t leave the abusive relationships. It is as easy as packing their bags and walking out the door, right? Well after much thought I have come to the conclusion that it is far more complex than that. If they walk out the door where do they go? Many women are still financially dependent on their husbands. They have no other sources of income hence they risk being destitute if they walk out. Then there is the factor of the children. A mother cannot bear the thought of leaving her children; most will stay in an unhappy and abusive marriage for the sake of the children. Then there is the little problem of society’s perception if she walks out. It is a whole lot easier for a 40 year-old man to get re-married than it is for a 40 year-old woman.
            So we know all about the problem of domestic violence and how serious it is. The million dollar question, what is the solution to the problem? Without doubt the media spotlight on the issue needs to continue with even greater vigour. Protection services such as the police service needs to be strengthened with capacity to handle domestic violence cases. The police need to have trained counselors and welfare personnel to assist them. It is common to hear of a woman reporting a domestic violence case only to withdraw it a couple of hours later. It is a trend that needs address. I would propose the laws being much stiffer, perhaps a domestic violence case should be a case against the people and should not be easier to withdraw. Perhaps one of the most effective solution would be the family, friends and society. The victims of domestic violence need to be supported to walk out the door and then given the ability to financially stand on their two feet.
            By and large, there is so much that can be talked about in regards to domestic violence. The debate can go on about who is at fault and who is to blame, what are the reasons that my fellow male species can act in such despicable ways. The bottom line will continue to be that domestic violence should have no place in our society. It is time we raise our voices and act instead of giving a blind eye.


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