Poverty ties women to abusive relationships
Women’s limited access to their own financial resources exposes them to domestic violence. One such woman, Anita Zwane (35) who is unemployed has suffered physical and psychological violence at the hands of her husband who is an artisanal miner and the family’s sole breadwinner.
Anita, a mother of two young children who resides in Gwabalanda suburb in Bulawayo metropolitan province says her husband Shepherd Goba (34) has been abusing her since they got married.
“My husband is not formally employed. He gets money through artisanal mining. At times he goes away for weeks and will not be communicating. When he comes back he will be having a lot of money. He spends most of the money on beer with his friends. If I ask him for money, at times he gets violent,” says Anita.
Anita says the first time her husband bit her was when he gave her US$70 for household use. She says she went to town to buy some groceries. Two days later, she says her husband came back home drunk at 2 AM and asked her for US$20 to go back to the nightclub. When she told her husband that she had used all the money on groceries, she says he got angry and beat her up.
“We have a seven-month old baby who requires a lot of things. I had used most of the money on baby clothes and other related items. When I told my husband, he accused me of being reckless and wasting his money on useless things. He assaulted me in front of our children,” says Anita.
After the brutal assault, Anita says she is always living in fear as her husband assaults her whenever there is a money problem.
Anita says she met her husband when she was working as an attendant at a shebeen in one of Bulawayo’s high density suburbs.
A shebeen is an unlicensed establishment or private house selling alcohol. Shebeens are rampant in Bulawayo metropolitan province and they are characterised by widespread use of illegal drugs, violent patrons and an influx of sex workers. Patrons of these establishments are generally considered to be of loose morals.
“I was just employed at the shebeen. I was not a prostitute. When we met he told me to quit my job so as to concentrate on raising our family. I agreed to quit my job because my working time was at night and this would not be ideal for a married woman. If I had known that my husband would treat me this way, I would have turned down his proposal,” says Anita.
Rumbidzai Gumbo (30) is Anita’s friend. She lives in the same neighbourhood and has accommodated Anita most of the time when she has escaped from her husband. Rumbidzai says she is also living in fear that one day Anita’s husband my come and beat her.
“My friend is risking her life by staying with such a violent husband. At one time I advised her to tell her husband’s aunt for mediation. Unfortunately, the aunt could not do much. Instead, Anita’s husband turned the story and accused her of squandering money without taking care of the children,” says Rumbidzai.
“If Anita was gainfully employed, I do not think that her husband would treat her this way. This is the situation that most Zimbabwean women face. They risk their lives by staying in violent relationships just because they do not have any source of income. Their lives are tied to their husbands,” says Rumbidzai.