On the LookOut: If he/she beats you up…run!

gender based violence

Gender-based violence (GBV) is a violation of human rights. It can happen to anyone regardless of race, education levels, geographical location, sexual orientation etc. Abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual, technological and financial abuse. Today the article will dwell much on physical and emotional abuses in a relationship.

Physical abuse is one of the commonly noticed violations and it includes behaviours such as hitting, use of weapon, damaging personal property etc. while emotional abuse includes  insults, name calling, intimidation and extreme jealousy.  It might actually be your situation right now.  It is therefore of great importance to work towards transforming the attitude of men and women that perpetuate violence.  

In recent years, due to emerging social media technologies there have been various reports regarding GBV. Today my specific interest is GBV that usually starts from courtship and continues when a couple is married. There are several signs that one can know if the partner they are dating is violent or not.

If he slaps you once or twice be assured that he will do it even more when you get married. If beating starts during courtship run before you become a punching bag.

Our tradition has in one way or the other contributed towards abuse. While growing up there was a song we used to sing and dance to during weddings ‘kapilire umka iweko’. This song was usually addressed to the lady preparing her psychologically for marriage. The woman was told, for one to survive in marriage, they should be able to endure whatever problems they face. We were further advised that a man is head of family and as such he should be able to do whatever he wants to without being questioned. The women were also told if they are beaten up by their husbands they should take it as a norm and that ‘mamuna salakwitsa’.

Remember a monster cannot be tamed or changed, ‘njoka saweta’. Obey the red lights know when to quit. Marriage needs to be enjoyed. How can one enjoy marriage if they are abused by the person who claims to love them?

An abusive partner doesn’t just start overnight; they start by the use of abusing language, showing little or no respect at all. They do not make decisions with their wives. Marriage is team work and not one sided. If you can’t make decisions together it means you cannot plan together hence no developments. Usually such households have partners who just impose things on their wives without hearing their side of story or opinion. This literally means the wife should just be on the receiving end.

We ought to know that most abusers are usually controlling. Some abusive partners love to show their ego by shutting up their partners either by beating or uttering of abusive words. They may actually boast and tell their friends and sometimes the friends applaud them for what they have done and call them real men!

The disturbing part about abusers is that they make you feel loved one day and the following day they will do the opposite. They do this just to trap you. In 2006 there was a scenario in Dowa where a man chopped off Marietta Samuel, the wife’s hands with a machete over a petty issue which could have been handled without hurting each other. I can say, it could be that he pointed at the wife with a panga or knife on several occasions and that the wife got used to it and thought it was just a way of trying to scare her, up until it was used on her on that fateful day.

In another case, as reported by The Daily Times, on April 15,2020, a 35-year-old Matinesi Kajani from Kasungu was chopped off her right hand by the person she called husband Benard Mwale. This led to the amputation of the hand. It is reported that she and her husband had some problems but every time she told her relatives she was advised to return to her home and settle their differences.

In this instance when we notice that there are problems that we are failing to solve it’s good to be reactive and move on. It is not that I’m encouraging divorces. The cases of Matinesi and Marietta could have been avoided if they did not continue to stay in abusive marriages.

The unfortunate part is, most partners would beat or abuse their wife right in front of kids who are quick learners through observation. While the kids may be traumatised by such acts but they too grow into abusers in future as they have been fully trained right in their parents’ household. Such children grow into violent people, thinking it’s the way of living.

The question we would have in mind is; ‘why does she still stay if she knows she’s being abused?’. The secret of domestic violence is that most women who are married to abusers are psychologically trapped and disguised as loved in a relationship.

There are so many reasons that keep women to stick to their marriages regardless of the turmoil they may be experiencing. This could be for the sake of the children’s welfare or preserving their public image or indeed a fortune that they may have made together over time, financial dependence. All this should not be reason enough to bind you with an abuser. Don’t go into marriage by listening to your heart beat only also use your head. Gender based violence is real.  Walk away before we burry you, ‘fupa lokakamiza limaswa mphika’.

Let's meet again next week as I take you through sexual and technological abuse. Yes! the email and WhatsApp tracking!