COVID 19 lockdowns fuelled Gender Based Violence

By Faith Badza

Miriam Sibanda, a 25 year old mother of two who lives with her husband and in-laws is one of the women to experience Gender based violence at home during Covid 19. When the COVID 19 pandemic struck the globe everyone was forced to stay at home with their spouses, children , parents and other relatives. It has never been a secret that Miriam and her husband, mother in law and sisters in law did not have a good relationship. They despise her for marrying their son and brother as they believe she is there for nothing but his money. With everyone at home 24/7 some drama was surely going to be there at home.

Since the children were not going to school and her husband and sisters in law not going to work, the only chores Miriam had were to clean the house, sweep the yard and cook food for the family. The first week everything was fine, nobody tried to step on anybody’s toes but on the second week that’s when it all started. Miriam woke up to do her chores only to find one of her sisters in law making a mess in the kitchen all in the name of making food for her family because all Miriam did was cooking inedible food. She cleaned the house and made sure the yard was clean for her kids to play, her mother in law started throwing insults at her as she believed the house was not clean enough and Miriam was lazy.

Three weeks into the Lockdown, Thabo, Miriam’s husband received an email notifying him that the company was letting go of some employees and he was one of those people being let go. This meant that there was going to be less money being contributed to the up-keep of the family. His mother believed it was because of the bad luck that Miriam brought to the family that made her son lose his job. Thabo started to hate his wife more, abusing her emotionally till one day his anger got the better of him and he punched her, pushed her down to the floor and started kicking her all over her body. His mother and sisters heard Miriam’s cries but ignored them. The neighbors could hear everything that was happening but decided not to interfere.

As the days went by, her husband was not the only person beating her up for every mistake that happened, her sisters in law and mother in law had also joined in. She always had scares on her face, arms and back, this brought nothing but satisfaction to her in laws as they believed she was finally getting what she deserved, to be treated like nothing but trash.

Her husband went from beating her up with his hands to throwing any object he could get his hands on at Miriam. Miriam really wanted to leave and go to her parents home but who would take care of the children financially since she did not have any qualifications, she stayed for the sake of her kids . Her husband’s got worse with each passing day, she was scared for her life. She tried talking to her mother in law but all she got were insults accompanied by slaps, her neighbors refused to get involved in their family issues, her family members also refused to get involved they believed she must be doing something wrong to get that kind of treatment from her inlaws.

On one particular Saturday, Thabo went out to drink with his friends at a friend’s house. When he came back he was drunk and talking with a slur. He through insults at his wife, claiming the children were not his and ordering her to tell him who the father of her children was. Miriam decided to ignore him as she thought it was the alcohol talking.

The next morning her husband woke up with an attitude that was worse that other days, he criticized everything Miriam did, threw her food in the bin till he got very angry and went outside to get a metal rod, struck an unsuspecting Miriam who was hanging her laundry on the line. He struck her on the head, she fell and he continued hitting her till blood started gushing out of her head. The inlaws came out to see what had happened, they found a unconscious Miriam on the ground with blood coming out of her head and the clothes with blood on them.

When questioned by the police the inlaws claimed their son was innocent and Miriam had done this to herself and got what she deserved.

Since the outbreak of COVID 19 , emerging reports have shown that several types of violence against women have intensified. In Zimbabwe, 40% of women aged 15–49 have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner, including 19% who suffered such during the previous 12 months (Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency & UNICEF).



Creative Centre for Communication and Development, Zimbabwe

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