Call to involve men in domestic chores

By Regis Nhumba

Petronella Murisa (30) lives in Adelaide Park in Gweru, the provincial capital of Midlands province in Zimbabwe. Petronella says she is a victim of some cultural practices that subject women to a life of slavery under their husbands, where women are saddled with a lot of domestic chores and get beaten if they fail to fulfil those duties.

Petronella says when she got married, she expected that her husband would treat her as an equal paertner where they both work together as a couple to raise their family. She says during their courtship, Arnold Murisa (36), was caring and understanding. She says all things changed when they got married.

Boys should be involved in all domestic chores such as cooking, cleaning dishes, washing clothes and fetching water

“When we got married, we stayed with Arnold’s family for some few months. In those few months, my husband had changed a lot and it seemed like a norm that he would go out to his friends any time, leaving me to do all the household chores. He would just throw his clothes all over the place. He did not clean dishes or clear them to the sink. He would just eat and leave everything behind for me to pick after him,” says Petronella.

Petronella says she was shy to discuss the issue with her husband at a time when they were staying with his parents. She decided to push the idea of moving out to have her own place with her husband. She says since her husband was gainfully, there was no harm in starting a new life by renting a place until they had saved enough to buy their own house.

“When we moved out, I thought everything would be resolved easily as I would have the opportunity to talk to my husband about his behaviour. When I told him about my concerns, he was dismissive and said that he had never done the chores that I was now assigning him. When I tried to press him about my workload, he just laughed off the issue and walked out to his friends. I was taken aback by his conduct and vowed to continue engaging him,” says Petronella.

Petronella says a few days after her husband had spurned her engagement, some close family relatives visited them. Petronella says she did everything to make sure their visitors had something to eat. She says she cooked some food and served their visitors. Soon after the visitors had gone, Petronella says she was shocked when her husband accused her of failing to cook good food for the visitors and that he was embarrassed by her poor cooking skills.

“He was so angry and accused me of humiliating him in front of his visitors. When I tried to explain to him that the food was not bad and I had tried my best, he started to beat me up and insult me saying that my mother had failed to properly raise me up and that I was an embarrassment to his family,” says Petronella.

Since that incident, Petronella says he is living in great fear of her husband. She says she never reported the assault to the police fearing that if he gets arrested, he would harm her when he gets released.

Angela Ncube (34), a mother of three who lives in Mutapa in Gweru and has been married for eight years says many women in Zimbabwe are living in complicated marriages characterised by violence and intimidation.

“The majority of women, especially those who are not gainfully employed are living in traumatising circumstances. Men are socialised to do outdoor work. They consider domestic chores as women’s work. Even when a woman is employed, her husband expects het to do household chores while he watches the television. That is all wrong and has to change,” says Angela.

Angela says change may only happen if young boys are trained to participate in domestic chores.

“Boys should be involved in all domestic chores such as cooking, cleaning dishes, washing clothes and fetching water. As women we need to play a leading role on this so that in the future, the men will be able to complement their wives in doing domestic chores,” says Angela.

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