Last week I wrote an article about a comprehensive approach to Gender Based Violence. It has been comforting to see more and more men standing up against GBV. To see the so called “perpetrators” standing up against GBV is unheard of. May be the winds are beginning to turn. The last time I heard of men who participated in such marches and yet they are still violent to their partners. I am a member of a church and have seen horrible things even within the sanctuary. Men in leadership positions preaching like heaven will open yet they physically and emotionally abuse their wives. Hypocrisy of the highest order!
I am not sure what makes the issue of GBV to flare up and then come down again after a while. The wave we are seeing now, we have seen before. We cannot allow the issue of GBV to be flavour of the month. It has to be an issue that we consciously attend to. I shudder when I hear of women who have been bashed by their spouses and they never report the matter. The woman has been made a punching bag and she never said a word. I suppose the fear the perpetrator (whom I call victim) instils makes the woman feel paralysed to do anything that can get her out of the situation.
Perhaps as women we also play a role, a huge one for that matter. We cannot accuse men of being silent and then we also become silent when we are at the receiving end of GBV. What are some of the reasons of keeping quiet – shame, fear of losing the benefits she accrues by virtue of being a partner of the perpetrator, fear of going back to the old lousy life, protecting the reputation of the partner, fear of death because these perpetrators tend to say that if I can’t have you no one will have you. I thank my father who told me that any man who lifts a hand for me, I must walk away. That has stuck in my mind and I was never going to allow any violence near me in the form of a lover.
Some people tell me that the woman does not have a choice. Well, let us explore that. One young man said they say it is better to cry in a mansion than to be happy in a shack. Oh! So that talks to our values. So, we value money and “comfort” more than our happy lives. So, it is about what people are going to say. So, it means we are also complicit.
Next week, I will tell you about my aunt who stayed to the bitter end while suffering abuse. Then the following week, I will address abuse that happens in the work place.