By Bekezela Mguni
Bianca Moyo (19) says she got pregnant at the age of 14. Her boyfriend, who was then 19 years denied paternity and left her to shoulder the burden of caring for the pregnancy and the child on her own. Bianca says despite dumping her, Shawn Mariba (28) her ex-boyfriend, still wants to control her and uses violence and threats against any of her male friends or suitors.
Bianca resides in the southern border town of Beitbridge, about 320 kilometres from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second biggest city. Beitbridge is one of Zimbabwe’s busiest borders. Like any other part of the country, Beitbridge experiences increasing incidences of teen pregnancies. Bianca says her pregnancy was not planned and it affected her education.
“My ex-boyfriend flatly denied paternity. I do not know why. He did not bother to meet my family and never contributed anything towards the welfare of his child. According to our culture, Shawn was supposed to pay ‘damages’ for impregnating me and refusing paternity. Because he failed to do so he has no claims to the child or to me,” says Bianca.
Bianca says her ex-boyfriend started dating other girls soon after she fell pregnant. A few years after giving birth, Bianca says she started going out with her friends and attending parties. One day, Bianca says she met Shawn at a party and he confronted her and questioned her why she was attending a party when she was supposed to be looking after the baby.
“He was violent and he assaulted me and ordered me to go back home and look after the baby. I went back home and told my family. Nothing was done about this issue since my family members felt that Shawn had a say over the child even though he was not contributing anything,” says Bianca.
Bianca’s cousin Rendani Moyo (28) says she confronted Shawn about the assault, he admitted but said that he was still in love with Bianca. He wanted to blame the breakdown of their relationship on Bianca.
“Shawn is manipulative. He has made our grandmother to believe that Bianca is responsible for the breakdown of their relationship. Every time we discuss Bianca’s case, our grandmother quickly blames Bianca. How can he claim to be in a relationship with Bianca when he has not supported her in any way or contributed towards his child’s upkeep?” says Rendani.
Bianca says since then Shawn has taken control of her life and is making her life miserable. She claims that Shawn has no interest in getting back with her but at the same time he does not want her to have any boyfriend.
“I am a loner now thanks to my ex-boyfriend. Every time I get into a relationship, Shawn appears and beats up my male companions or boyfriends. Sometimes he just makes threats and sometimes he beats me up in the streets and tell people that I am his girlfriend and no one should dare propose to me,” says Bianca.
Bianca says she lived with the harassment for close to five years before she decided that enough was enough.
“I guess I just accepted the harassment because I was just a child. Shawn violated my rights for a long time, taking advantage of my naivety. However, the moment I realised that what he was doing was unlawful, I quickly engaged the courts to get protection,” says Bianca.
Bianca says one day she attended her friend’s 21st birthday party. Bianca attended the party with a new boyfriend who resides in South Africa. As Bianca was enjoying herself, she says Shawn gate crashed the party and started to assault her. Bianca says she could not stand the humiliation of being assaulted in front of her friends.
“He hit me on my face with a glass and the next day l had a blue eye. It was painful. I realised that I had to take action before things got worse. I went to the police to report him. The police advised me to get a protection order against him,” says Bianca.
Bianca blames her family’s high regard for marriage as the main reason why she endured abuse for close to five years. She says family members were always telling her that she should not make her child an orphan by causing her father’s incarceration.
Getting a protection order has helped Bianca and she says she now feels free to live her life without fear. Bianca advices women in abusive relationships to engage the courts early before they get injured or killed by abusive partners.