Story telling crucial in fighting GBV
Like many other Zimbabwean women, Maggie’s story started out as a fairy tale. Swept off her feet by her six years older Prince Charming, she thought she would live happily ever after. She could have not guessed that her husband will one day turn into a monster.
“When I got married in 1963, I was not worried because I knew my husband will care of me. I had always dreamt of going to nursing college. The first red flag was when I was refused by my husband to go for nursing because I might meet richer men. I thought it must be deep love that he did want to lose me,” Maggie recalls.
When Maggie and her husband where blessed with their children, it did not take long for the first fist to be thrown, followed by many more attacks. Whenever the children did some mischief, she and her children would be beaten with a knobkerrie. Maggie‘s husband would refuse her to go the well with other women or when there was anyone at the well, in order to prevent gossip or potential infidelity. Her husband would check for strange footsteps in the yard. When Maggie started to fight back the abuse by getting a peace order against him, he threatened to divorce her.
As the abuse continued for years she realized that the marriage certificate was no longer there. “But I did not mind, because I was free at last. I am happy and I’ve learnt to prioritize myself above all else. Most importantly, I have learnt to stop seeking validation from others, because if I didn’t know that what was done to me was wrong, I would not have known to seek right,” said Maggie.
Maggie now leads women’s division in her community. She always reminds her two daughters to seek independence, seek justice when an act of violence is committed on them and empower others around her. Maggie now resides in her home with her grandchildren in Nkulumane surbub.
Maggie’s experience is all too common in Bulawayo, where gender-based violence (GBV) affects at least 1 in every 3 women and girls, according to UNFPA report 2022.
Minister Ncube stressed the need to economically empower women as a long term approach to ending GBV stating that research has shown that women who control their own resources are less likely to be violated because of their gender.
In Zimbabwean societies, providing an income for the family is often considered the ultimate role for a man. As a result, boys’ and young men’s image of what it means to be a man is frequently linked to power and exerting control over the household. This behaviour often leads to a view that the use of violence is a legitimate means to exercise this power.
Maggie was recently engaged to speak with young women in Nkulumane surbub at the AFM Getsamane assembly as their 16 days of Activism against GBV launch.
The church’s launch coincided with the world which joins hands and forces in commemoration 16 days of activism against Gender Based Violence.
16 days of activism is a period celebrated by many organizations like the UN, Padare/Enkundleni/Men’s Forum on Gender.
“By telling their stories, survivors like Maggie are letting others know that it’s possible to overcome domestic violence and the injustices of a patriarchal system which often believes and supports the men. Such stories exist to encourage victims to want out of the violence,” said Advocate Rodney Mutombo, Women Empowerment Trust.
“Now it is better, you can report to the nearest police station or seek toll free support and other ways of counselling. In our days, we had only Aunts to talk to or report to, and you would never get any counselling,” added Gogo Maggie,