When marriage turns into ‘imprisonment’

By Julia Ndlela

The prevailing dire economic situation brought about by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and other socio-economic challenges facing the country have contributed to a spike in Gender Based Violence. Charity Mpofu (25) is one of the GBV survivors and she reveals that her marriage problems started when her husband was retrenched.

Charity, her husband and young daughter used to reside in Kingsdale, a low density suburb north of Bulawayo metropolitan province. She says when she got married, her husband was gainfully employed and was able to support the family.

“When I got married, my husband made a decision that I should not look for a job. I was supposed to look after the baby and the house. I did not have any problems with this arrangement. When COVID-19 broke out, my husband was retrenched and that was the beginning of our problems,” says Charity.

Charity says the sudden turn of events threw her family into a tumult. To avert the crisis, Charity talked to her mother who was based in South Africa. She says her mother started to send some second hand clothes for re-sale in Zimbabwe.

“I was lucky that my mother and my other family members were all in South Africa where the economy is more stable. Selling the second hand clothes brought in the much needed cash for the family,” says Charity.

The relief was however short lived. Due to idleness, Charity says her husband developed some beer drinking habbit. She says her husband’s drinking habbit spiralled out of control and he started to spend more time out with his friends.

As the COVID-19 instigated lockdown persisted, Charity says her husband started to ask her for money for beer. At first she gave him some money but later, her husband would demand more. Charity says this triggered hostilities with her husband.

“One day l did not have any money. When I told him that I did not have any, he became angry and took a sweeping broom. He beat me up hard and I fell down. I was carrying my daughter and she hit the ground so badly that she could not cry out aloud,” says Charity.

Charity says after this incident, her husband continued on his violent path, insulting and assaulting her on numerous other occasions. Charity says she realised that her life was in danger and she decided to break up her marriage.

“I was worried that one day I would end up seriously injured or killed. I told my family about it. I looked for alternative accommodation and started life with my daughter,” says Charity.

Sihle Ndlela (44) is another survivor of Gender Based Violence. A mother of two, Sihle says her marriage collapsed when she also realised that her life was in danger. Sihle however says her husband was gainfully employed but would beat her up on flimsy excuses.

“I loved him and could not imagine my life without him. I tried to do everything to make him happy but that did not stop him from beating me. I did not want my children to grow up without a father. Whenever my neighbours asked me about the violence, I would make excuses for him and blame myself for making him angry,” says Sihle.

A young women’s rights activist, Anitta Neshiri (28) who is the Director of Girltalkzw says most survivors of Gender Based Violence do not reveal the abuse because of fear of stigmatisation.

“After realising that survivors of Gender Based Violence do not come out, we are creating a safe spaces for women in abusive relationships where they talk about their experiences as a way of boosting their self-esteem. We encourage women to report cases of Gender Based Violence and share their experience in order to help others,” say Annita

Creative Centre for Communication and Development, Zimbabwe