The Sunday Mail
One-in-four women, and even more men, justify wife-beating in African societies, a survey by pan-African research network, Afrobarometer, has revealed.
The survey was conducted in 34 African countries between 2016 and 2018, and the results are quite depressing as there are several efforts to curb domestic violence on the continent..
With 2 400 interviews done in Zimbabwe, females who approved that wife-beating is sometimes or always justified were 12 and 2 percent respectively.
Of the males questioned, 22 percent felt wife-beating was sometimes justified with 3 percent saying it was always justified.
Afrobarometer communications officer for Southern Africa, Gugu Nonjinge, said the findings revealed that women in Zimbabwe were, by 11 percentage points, less likely than men to say wife-beating is sometimes or always justified.
Gender Links Manager for Zimbabwe, Ms Priscilla Maposa, concurred saying she had encountered survivors of gender-based violence who approved that being beaten by a man was demonstration that she was still loved and needed.
She said this emanated from the socialisation of women and men who were raised in set-ups where such violence was acceptable to both sexes.
“They are of the view that a wife must be beaten at regular intervals even if she has not done anything wrong. At first we thought that it was a joke but it is happening. These men were socialised to be aggressive and if they had a chance to grow up exposed to love and an environment that do not tolerate wife beating, we were going to have a different story.”
The revelations come on the heels of the annual campaign of 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence which begins on November 25.
Chief Donald Kamba, of the Makoni chieftaincy, said it was important to understand what women and men thought of wife-beating.
He said the difference in interpreting life and its challenges between a couple may cause friction that can raise ugly emotions resulting in wife-beating.
“The advisability, desirability and justification of wife-beating is interpreted better if women talk about what circumstances make wife-beating justifiable and unjustifiable.
“It would, therefore, make interpretation of wife-beating even easier if men are asked the same questions as those posed to the women folk to be able to identify or fail to identify the chauvinist pigs that men are sometimes accused of, whether rightly or wrongly,” Chief Makoni said.
Added Chief Makoni: “Some women poke fun at their husbands, see nothing good about them and even compare them in a derogatory manner with other men. That can lead to beatings as this deflates the man’s ego and l would like to believe that in a majority of circumstances, a man loses his cool when trampled upon like some piece of dirt in the home.
“Wife-beating, no matter the circumstances, is condemned in our culture as something done by outcasts of society, and, is rightly condemned as an abomination. The wisdom embedded in saying that a man should not beat a wife is simple and yet very much grand.”
Two months ago, the Judicial Services Commission reported that domestic violence cases that had been brought before the courts in Harare and its satellite towns had dropped.
This was in the first six-month period to June, with a 14 percent drop compared to the same period last year.
Padare/Enkundleni Men’s Forum director, Mr Walter Vengesayi, said it was more shocking that there were women who still believed it was at times or always justified to be beaten.
He said patriarchy was the cause as it meant men were more valued than women with some cultural and religious norms also influencing this thinking.
“Such thinking is there based on our social norms, sometimes cultural, from issues like lobola. What does lobola mean to certain men? Sometimes it means ‘I have bought this person and this person belongs to me and I can do whatever I please’.
“Sometimes in religion women are equated to children. We need to continue to raise awareness around the importance of women, around human rights pertaining to what must be done among men and women because at times women don’t value themselves to the extent they think its justified for someone to raise their hand against them,” Mr Vengesayi said.
He highlighted that though it was important to note the small numbers of men suffering domestic violence there was need to raise alarm on the high numbers of women dying or suffering due to domestic violence.
“It’s still shocking that we have women who still think sometimes or always it is justified to be beaten considering that we have been talking about these issues for quite a long time. What we need is a multi-sectoral approach to bring awareness,” he said.
Zimbabwe has enacted laws and policies like the Domestic Violence Act to curb the vice.
In addition, it is signatory to a number of protocols which advocate to protect women, like the Beijing Platform, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa.