Tag Archive | VAW

“Confronting my demons”: In progress

Glad to be writing again. The fear of trying to write well has finally been cast from me. Started writing this one a little while ago but left it when I felt that I was speaking too much in the story. For ages now the story of this young woman has been lying in the back of my mind and I have been too afraid to write it. I have been so scared of judging her, of having people judge her! I wanted hers to be a perfect story but who has that? This is life and the best way to live it is to get on with it. Same thing with with writing. She is a mixture and an offshoot of several people whom I know or have encountered, some of them men and that is what makes me embrace her. She is her! It is as if she is telling me to allow her to live, to be and so I have finally begun to do just that.

“I have written and re-written her story enough times trying to change her yet she is still there, wanting to live. So, in honour of her determination and her life, here goes a snippet from her story, tentatively entitled:

“Confronting my demons” (all copyrights reserved).

I sit in my small room and wonder why nothing is going right. I have gone to school and have acquired the necessary education but I feel more schooled than educated because I honestly have no idea how to navigate this treacherous jungle called life. No one taught me how life ought to be lived and I am extremely frustrated, disillusioned and downright angry. I have spent more than half my life thus far in some form of educational facility but there is nothing to show for my pains and efforts. I say pain because it WAS painful sitting through class and forcing my mind to take in all that the various teachers were spewing out of their mouths and scribbling across blackboards as well as dictating through whatever classes I had to attend. It was pain aiming to get the highest grades just so I could make my father proud…ok, I knew, just as I know now, that nothing I can do will ever make him prouder than were I male. So, my sex was the next frustration nature bestowed on me after it gave me to the parents that I had. I must say that I am glad that my mother is no more. She finally got some rest from- no, this is not about my mother but about me.

…….

It was in my second month of pregnancy that Lightman came back from work one day, in unusually high spirits…well, the spirits in him were partly responsible. He kissed me and massaged my feet. I ought to have been alerted by that very act itself: what black Shona man massages the feet of his pregnant girlfriend without there being a catch? He ran me a bath and scrubbed my back and he went on to make me tea, chamomile tea, to be exact. It was “to help you relax, my sweet.” I had never heard of that tea before but who was I to reveal that? I happily drank my cup and allowed myself to be caressed, licked and sucked in all manner thinkable and soon enough…oh well, you know it.

I woke up retching so suddenly and spent the next few minutes seated on the toilet floor with Mr Man offering me mint tea, “to help with the nausea.” I should have been more alert, I repeat, I ought to have been more alert. He was not worried about my ‘illness’ but more about getting me to drink as much tea as possible. After throwing up what must have been the day before yesterday’s breakfast, I finally passed out. I woke up with heat around my lower back. It steadily became intense but my partner was there to give me hot compress with a towel. I realised that I was in trouble when I felt the stickiness on my bum. A quick hand behind me and it came back red! I was confused before I became alarmed but my babie was on hand to ease my worries.

…..
(Let us leave it here for now)

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As I retire to bed diaries: When the passion gets muddied by the pain and frustration

Lately, I’ve been writing what I’m now calling ‘As I retire to bed diaries’ on Facebook. I guess it’s my own way of finding what I celebrate daily. There’s too much stuff going on around me such that it becomes easier to forget the good stuff that make me grateful for each day, that make me expectant for each the new day. I discovered today that I have been running away from blogging yet I’ve somehow started it on Facebook. So here goes today`s entry-

Finding and following one`s passion is a fulfilling point in one`s life. However, it seems as if when one finds this passion that’s when life gets tougher. My advice today is simple-
When you find that following your passion is some disillusion, ask yourself where your passion lies? – in the doing or in the aftermath?

I find that my passion lies in the people whom I impact! The doing itself can be so traumatic, painful and frustrating that I often question why I even bother. However, hearing from a fellow passion follower, from a young woman I shared a heart to heart with, a big sister I’ve hugged, another sister I’ve cried to…just knowing that someone is managing to smile and believe in the goodness of the world despite all the pain, hurt, trauma and discouragement they’ve faced is more than enough to make me wanna go back and fight one more day for what I believe.

I’ve been called all sorts of names, labelled and vilified. Some people fear me and avoid me. Others fear me such that they resort to telling tales about me. My sexuality has come under attack and scrutiny and attack, never mind the ridiculous speculation. I’ve met ppl who have turned out not to be the sisters I initially thought they would be. I’ve met ppl who’ve turned out to be chancers who thought they were too ‘masculine’ for me to ‘resist’!!

But in all this, I’ve met women who’ve proved to be fellow kindred spirits. I’ve met men who are equally passionate about this cause to end violence against women! I’ve developed a thick skin and a tough heart. I’ve developed friendships that will span my own lifetime and beyond.

I am grateful for the privilege I have of impacting one woman at a time. When it gets overwhelming I find that one memory that reminds me why it’s all worth it. When fellow kindred spirits reach out to me and express willingness to create a synergy, I am encouraged that this war IS coming to an end.

Violence Against Women isn’t only physical- the beatings, the rape, the inappropriate touches. It’s also psychological and emotional- the insults, the catwhistles, the inappropriate words, the berating words, the attack on her self esteem, the subtle and also obvious threats to her, her children, her family- sisters, brothers.

It’s also economic- the threat with loss of her source of livelihood, the threat that the family bread winner will be unable to provide anymore, the threat that if she earns more than her husband/spouse she’ll emasculate him, the threat that if she goes into formal employment she’ll attack male attention and thus destroy her marriage.

It’s religious and cultural- she must be submissive to her husband and any man she encounters despite her own feelings regarding their conduct. She must die to her fleshly/carnal needs lest she be possessed of the devil/loose/cheap/whorish. She must be obedient to every ‘instruction’ from the man of God/man of the cloth/religious leader. She must take instruction from the males because she’s only better than a child in that she gives birth to children! The woman must know hop place at all times and stick to it. The woman is responsible for any wrongdoing that ‘her man’ does.

Violence against women is a carefully orchestrated reality whereby every individual plays their part like the 226member symphony it is. Sadly, women play a crucial role in it as we often are the gate keepers of patriarchy and act as social and cultural checks on one another. It is us who are responsible for grooming the next ‘befitting’ women for posterity. It is us who teach one another what ‘being a proper woman/wife/spouse’ is. It is us who monitor one another, ensuring that we are all keeping in line with ‘societal/cultural/religious’ expectations. This is the sad reality.

However, I retire to bed tonight knowing full well that women are stepping up and speaking out. We are taking our cultures, regions and societies to task. Slowly but surely the culture of male impunity is coming to an end. Slowly but surely, women are stepping up and speaking out against gender based violence. We are engaging men and women from across the religious, political, cultural and socio-economic divides in this fight. Generations are reaching out to one another and coming together in this fight.

I sleep easy tonight knowing that each one of us is making a huge difference in our own little corners. This is a collective effort and every little victory counts. I retire to bed tonight knowing that the world is becoming safer for us day by day.

#VAW: the different faces and corners of violence around us

We do not want to admit that the issue of violence is more than just beating up women and children; it is more than raping and sexually abusing them. It goes deeper than psychologically damaging them. We need to begin to look at the real face of violence- society. You and I. It is high time we admit that our society has a skewed look towards violence itself. When a man beats up his spouse, we tend to endorse it as ‘discipline’ and immediately ask what had caused him to beat her up. In other words, we try to justify the beatings. When a woman beats up her spouse, we tend to see the man as emasculated. In other words, we take back the violent act and align it back into male territory.

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when men and women get physical in their misunderstandings, most people tend to look on and instead, encourage the ‘teaching of a lesson’ on the wrong party, especially of it is the woman.
Image courtesy of Zimbabwenewsonline

Society also helps in the breeding of conducive grounds for violence. We frown upon divorce and disintegrating marriages so much that we inadvertently force couples to stay within relationships that no longer work for them. We frown upon people who co-habit such that they do not feel they have any right to report any abuse being perpetrated upon their bodies. We are so quick to judge others harshly but expect everyone to understand us when we wrong others. We have a warped sense of moral fibre that condones the rape and abuse of ‘prostitutes’ and yet we forget that the moment there is a transaction around sex, it becomes a commercial activity warranting to be termed ‘prostitution’- the buying and selling of sexual intercourse using whatever currency. We also have this idea of what a rapist and sexual abuser looks like such that we deny it when our husbands, fathers, uncles, teachers, nephews, sons and brothers stand accused of such acts. Such is our sense of family that we strive to protect it at all costs, including denying our daughters and womenfolk the right to seek legal justice when they are violated. ‘Shhh,’ we tell them, ‘he did not mean it’.

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Is violence really a solution to domestic problems?
(image courtesy of BulawayoNews24)

‘’You are such a liar and a naughty one, you only want to cause trouble.”

“What were you doing in that kind of dressing/ at his house/ office/ at that time of the day/ night?”

 “If we report this, who will look after our family?”

“You are a young woman now, you are obviously having sex, you must have enjoyed it”

“He is your boyfriend/ husband/ husband to be he’ll pay damage when he comes to pay lobola, so don’t make a fuss about it”

“He is the pastor/ prophet/ reverend/priest/ elder/ deacon/ preacher, he is  a man of God and was helping you/ cleansing you, shh”

How can your own husband rape you when you are married to him and you even stay under the same roof and share the same bed? Shhh!!”

I could go on but I think that we have got the picture. There are all sorts of scenarios whereby rape and abuse of women is nullified and the woman is even attacked for daring to speak out. Many a woman will not even dare report that their husbands rape them (by the way, rape can be a once off event…when she agrees to have sex with him, it is for that occasion that she agrees to, any other time, he has to get her consent! That is the law, thankfully) Anyway, before I digress, we have such a warped sense of what marriages should be that we are willing to mourn at a funeral of a spouse who was murdered by their partner. (Please note that I said spouse because I am aware that men are not the only ones killing their wives but that there are some cases whereby wives have killed their husbands.) Our society would rather walk around and meet in churches and all the other social meeting places flaunting their marital status as if it were some high breed horse that has won all the major horse races and the Queen of England is now no longer speaking to Queen Margrethe because they both want that horse for the races.  Meanwhile, this so-called high breed racehorse on this winning streak is full of horse shit, literally, up its mouth because that is what it prefers to snack on to look so glossy and refined. Yes, that is what I will compare those men and women who opt to parade their fake (broken down) marriages in which they suffer untold of abuse simply because they do not want to be shunned by society should people know what is really going happening…they are great looking thorough-breds that are feasting on horse shit to look and maintain their winning streaks

It is not only in marriages and relationships that we see the abuse of women but within our very homes. How many Zimbabwean households have maids and gardeners who are under age and meant to be in school? That is abuse! Plain and simple. We want to cry out against China and the other eastern countries that use children in their manufacturing plants yet we are forgetting that we are equally guilty of doing the same in the very same households from which we chant and type away at online petitions against child labour. How many men have paid for sex with underage children off the streets? Ignorance is no bliss when it comes to law. That we have underage young girls on the streets soliciting for money through offering sexual favours is a huge problem as it is. They can look and sound ‘mature’ and ‘knowledgeable’ in the sexual intercourse department, hell, they can even say that they are old enough but the reality and the harsh truth is that; that is statutory rape! Can I ask again: who looks like a rapist? Ndiani akanyorwa pamhanza kuti ‘Ini ndinobata chibharo’? (Who has written across their forehead, ‘I am a rapist’?)

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This is a sad reality. we have it in such a manner that rapists do not even know that they are rapists!

It is even in those leafy suburbs where the ‘madam’ asks her relatives to get her ‘Musikana mudiki, asingazondinetse, wandinogona kuraira zvandinoda. Vakuru vanonetsa.’  (Get me a young girl whom I will be able to train how I want my household run. The older women are a problem.) Shame on us. It is from those ‘poorer’ households where amai nababa sit together and discuss sending their young girl to work so that she can supplement their income with her maid’s salary. From Chishawasha Hills to Domboramwari all the way across the country to corners such as Dete, koSkhobokhobo and in all levels of income and societal status, we have women abused in all manner of ways. People are outraged when ministers, members of Parliament and senior (read stupid) political and society figures are accused of sexual violence. Do we honestly think that when these people ascend societal and political ladders they leave their penises and sexual urges in our hands? Really? Let us be very real and begin to address abuse of women as it is, abuse. I am persuaded that had it been men who would be half as abused, we would not even be having campaigns, they would have nipped it in the bud. Look at what they do to women who are accused of crimes of sexual violence. They pull up the whole ‘you-are-supposed-to-be-a-mother-to-this-person-therefore-….’ Card. I would like to see society getting angry at men who let go of the paternal baton and bring in fear within society. I would like to see men and women holding the humane baton and beginning to treat each other with love and respect.

#VAW must end. Violence has no space in our society.

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Stop making excuse and play your part to end violence

 

#UntilTheViolenceStops

I wrote this one for VDay. It is on their website but I feel the need to re-blog it. I am as yet unable to revisit Kenya’s summit. It bears too many wounds and so much hurt. It also has hope but for now, I need to breath, take a moment and share just what the summit spoke to me, what it awoke in me. There are a lot more stories on the site, so please, go over and read, share the stories and maybe, just maybe, you can be moved to join us in teh global campaign to stop violence. Sign up at www.onebillionrising.org whilst you are at it. For now, please read on…
http://www.vday.org/node/2961

One of the hardest things I have ever done is to sit at my laptop and try and set my feelings and thoughts in ink…. this may be odd to comprehend given that I speak my mind and write it as well. Well, it is true… I want to write about my time in Kenya, the stories that seem like extracts from a Japanese horror movie, the love and support I felt shared, the amazing women who are fighting on the ground… day in day out…the resistance they face and the decisions they have made that have changed not only their lives but that of countless of other women. I relate with their frustrations, fears, hopes, dreams…. the harsh realities…. I have never cried so much in my life… I have never felt so much rage, so much pain, so much helplessness and so much anguish yet…  have never felt so much love, hope, joy, I have never been so encouraged, so motivated, so inspired… I was able to admit my fears, speak out my mind and my feelings about the situations that torment me, some that I have had to give up on, some that I admitted, for the first time, to have depleted my energy, others that have i dread but I know that I have to face…. i have never felt my own vulnerability in such a manner, in a very safe environment.

 

 

I am reminded of two of my treasured friends who have taught me the joys of loving a fellow woman unconditionally. These women who help me grow, who understand when I am struggling with rage and depression and despair, women who allow me to be me… weak and all… with my loud mouth.

As I write this, I am alone and I can feel my tears welling up as my chest and throat begin to constrict. I am about to cry and I know that it is okay to cry. To admit that I am a human being who has emotions. I am quickly reminded of women and young girls who have so much hope about life despite what they have encountered…so many women whom have been left for dead, broken, shattered and violated in some of the most horrific ways yet they were in that room…. sharing their life-stories. I have never felt so much life curse through a place as it did in that room full of these amazing and precious women.

i learnt how to appreciate women, how to be an even more far-reaching citizen of the world. It takes me doing my own little bit in my own little corner to change the world. I have faced an adorable young woman who was so raped and abused that she had to have reconstructive done on her vagina, not once but twice. A young woman who was raped by countless men when she was pregnant (a result of rape!) stood in that room and shared her story with women most of who she had not met before. Another elderly woman shared of how she has been persecuted and thrown into jail just because she is bringing change to women whose culture dictates that they have their clitoris cut off and the labia sewn tighter than a baby’s. I have met women from different generations who appreciate the efforts that each generation is making in fighting against violence against women and children. I saw mothers reach out to their daughters, sisters cementing relationship that will cross borders and generations. I have been so humbled and so encouraged. If there is one thing I can say I will take out of the days I spent in Kenya at the VDay Africa summit, it would have to be the conviction that violence against women and children will stop! The women I met are individually willing to bring that change, one person at a time, one family, one community at a time, one tribe, one culture, one nation, one law one continent at a time. Violence against women and children will end, I see this so clearly in my mind. Those tears did not fall down nor were those stories shared in vain.

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