Tag Archives: gender based violence

We live in this world

29 Sep

did you know

Did you know?

• 100 million girls are missing due to female infanticide.

• 62 million girls of primary school age are out of school.

• 20 to 50% of girls have experienced sexual abuse from a family member.

• Every 3 seconds, a girl under 18 is forced or coerced to marry.

• Every year, 10 million girls under 18 are forced or coerced into marriage. 1 in 7 marries before they reach the age of 15.

• 1.2 million children are trafficked each year and 98% of those forced into commercial sexual exploitation are girls.

• The leading cause of death for young women aged 15 to 19 in developing countries is pregnancy.

• 36% of girls aged 15 – 19 in Africa and the Middle East have experienced female genital mutilation.

• By 2014, 64% of the world’s illiterate population will be female.

This is why your voice matters!

Stop the rape of our children – sign the petition!

21 Jul

On Tuesday 16 July 2013, the Nigerian Federal Senate approved the marriage of under-aged children in the country. We at Every African Women are outraged that once again girls’ rights are being openly violated under the guise of culture and religion.

The new law sets aside the constitutional requirement that a child must be at least 18 years old to enter into an agreement of marriage. Supporters of the under-age law include Senator Yerima Ahmad Sani who himself recently married a 13-year-old Egyptian girl. In justifying his actions he stated that the constitutional stipulation of a minimum age was at variance with Islamic law. How convenient then that the Senate’s actions have now legalised his actions!

Sign our petition to the Nigerian National Assembly demanding that they stop the legalisation of child marriage. Pass it on to everyone you know, man or woman, and stop the legal rape of our children and little sisters!


Quote of the Week – Women rule the world

20 Apr

women rule the world

Women really do rule the world. They just haven’t figured it out yet. When they do, and they will, we’re all in big big trouble.

Doctor Leon

The Book Club – Things Fall Apart

23 Mar


A few weeks ago when I put a shout out for people to share their favourite African authors and books I was astounded at the list that came back, some books and authors that I didn’t even know existed. I was excited to hear from so many people who love reading as much as I do.

Then a really brilliant idea came from one of our readers, Dephin Mathe Mpofu, ‘Why don’t we start a book club?’ and so the idea of  The Book Club was born.

As The Book Club proudly launches today, what more fitting way to mark this special occasion than to pay tribute to the late Chinua Achebe whom Nelson Mandela aptly described as having ‘brought Africa to the rest of the world’ and as ‘the writer in whose company the prison walls came down’.

Our book of choice is ‘Things Fall Apart’, Achebe’s first novel and the book that he was perhaps best known for. The story of  an Igbo warrior and the colonial era, it’s sold more than 10 million copies around the world and been published in 50 languages.

On his motivation for writing, Achebe said as his reading evolved, he slowly became aware of how books had cast Africans as savages.

‘There is that great proverb – that until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter,’  he said.

‘That did not come to me until much later. Once I realised that, I had to be a writer.’

Join our discussions on the Every African Woman Facebook community and learn more about our author of choice.

A special shout out to the gorgeous Dephin Mathe Mpofu for a brilliant idea come to life!

This doesn’t happen to people like me

3 Mar

when a man loves you

Two weeks ago, I sat down for a transatlantic Skype interview with Alice* who got in touch with us to share her personal experience of an abusive relationship. Being South African herself, the recent headlines on the violence in her home country  prompted her introspection and she felt she had an important message for other African women. This is her story:

EAW: Thank you for getting in touch with us to share your story Alice, it was very brave of you.

Not at all, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do but I’ve never known how to do it anonymously because I’m not proud of it.

 EAW: I was struck by the fact you said an abusive relationship doesn’t happen to people like you, what did you mean?

I was brought up in a normal family in South Africa, went to a good school and had some strong female role models in my life. I consider myself smart, street wise and independent and in my mind I didn’t fit the profile of the sort of woman to be in an abusive relationship. I’m still trying to work out how it happened and why I put up with it for so long.

EAW: Tell me about the first time it happened.

I’d just come out of a relationship with yet another player when I met Tom. He was the sweetest, most attentive man I’d ever met. He was so romantic and unlike the other guys I’d dated he wanted to spend all his time with me and I very quickly became his whole world. On hindsight that should have been a warning sign.

The first time he hit me was in public, at a party with lots of people around. We’d gone out with a group of friends and as the evening progressed he became more and more moody and standoffish. I was talking and dancing with a couple of my girlfriends when he suddenly marched over, pulled me and said we were going. I told him I wasn’t ready to go when he slapped me in the face and pulled me out of the party. I was shocked and didn’t know what to do, it was in public. I screamed but nobody came to help. He bundled me into a taxi, I was screaming and the taxi driver did nothing. When we got to his place I was still crying and trying to get away, the security guard at his building just looked at me and did nothing.

When we got upstairs he suddenly burst into tears and started apologising and telling me how much he loved me. I remember feeling this deep shame; I was humiliated and couldn’t believe this was happening to me. I think I just wanted to put it behind me and forget it ever happened.

The next morning one of my friends came to his place to check up on me. I took the opportunity to walk down with her and ran off to my aunt’s house nearby. My aunt was furious when I told her what had happened. She’d been in an abusive marriage which had left her with permanent injuries. She took me down to the local police station and insisted I make a report against Tom, which I did.

The next day the police asked me to drop by and told me they had called him into the police station and how remorseful he was. They said they dealt with lots of domestic cases and they’d never seen such a remorseful guy. He’d cried and apologised and assured them it wouldn’t happen again. Suddenly he was this angel and even the police were asking me to give him a second chance.

EAW: So did it end there? Was that the last time he hit you?

Of course not, if anything it became more frequent after that. Each time he hit me he’d break down and apologise and tell me I was his life and he couldn’t live without me. I stayed so I must have felt flattered by this sick love.

My dad had recently died and I guess I was feeling vulnerable and enjoying the attention to the point I was willing to overlook the abuse. He also had a way of turning my friends and family against me so that I would always end up as the bad guy and he was this wonderful man who loved me to bits. The more isolated I became the more the beatings escalated and almost always in public.

He was extremely jealous and possessive and didn’t want me paying attention to anyone else. The funny thing is it was never about me talking to other men; he was jealous of my female friendships and just didn’t want to see me happy or having friendships or a life outside him.

 EAW: You went ahead and accepted his marriage proposal despite the beatings?

Foolishly yes, he’d been asking me to marry him from the word go and I finally agreed. I’m just glad I refused to have his baby, something he’d been begging me to do for ages. I look back now and think the day he paid Lobola for me was the day I became a child in the relationship and all the gloves came off, excuse the pun. My family loved him and thought he was the best thing since sliced bread. My auntie warned me that abusive men never change but I went ahead anyway. Perhaps I wanted to be married more than I hated being beaten up.

EAW: So how did you finally leave him?

The last time he hit me he started choking me and that was the final straw. It had always been slapping before but this time he was choking me and tearing off my clothes. This time I fought back, I thought he was going to kill me. I told him I was leaving him and he choked me some more. I managed to bite his hand hard and ran out of the house. I called the police from the street but they didn’t turn up. He ran down after me crying and apologising but I knew I was done. I stopped a taxi and went to my aunt’s house. She was furious and yelled at me to wake up because the man would end up killing me.

EAW: What did Tom do when you moved in with your aunt?

He called my uncle, who had handled the Lobola, as usual trying to make me look like the bad guy. My uncle phoned me begging me to go back to him, that all marriages had their problems and I was embarrassing the family. Tom was very good at spotting the weak links in my family and working on them to put pressure on me. I felt trapped and was getting a lot of pressure from my family to go back to him.

I’d been thinking of leaving the country for a while and then one day I came home and my aunt handed me a bundle of money and said I should go and buy an air ticket and leave the country. She could see the pressure I was under from everyone and felt I wasn’t going to hold out much longer, she was probably right.

So while Tom and my family were calling me begging me to go back to him, I quietly bought an air ticket and slipped out of the country. The next time I spoke to him I was in the UK and he was shocked. He begged me to let him join me and promised he would change but I was through making excuses for him. It’s taken me two years to get my life back together and regain my self esteem but I’ve not looked back.

EAW: You’re very calm and matter of fact about your experience, what did you take out of it?

The biggest learning for me was that the first time someone lays a hand on you walk away, they’ll never stop. It sounds like a cliché but it’s so true. There’s a reason a man lifts his hand to a woman and it has nothing to do with you. Tom obviously had psychological issues that had nothing to do with me, I took those problems and made them mine and lost my own self esteem in the process.

I’ve also learnt to make my own decisions and not involve my family too much, especially my uncles and extended family. Everyone has their own agendas and they are not necessarily aligned to yours. I found out later that Tom had been buying my uncle stuff so no wonder he was on his side. Next time I’ll take the time to get to know and love the man on my own without introducing him to my family. Once Tom had a relationship with my extended family it was easy for him to manipulate them and isolate me. My family are also quite traditional and probably felt that it wasn’t a big deal that he was beating me because all African women are beaten.

I think ultimately we are responsible for our own well being and I should have acted sooner.

 EAW: Alice thank you again for taking the time to talk to us and we wish you all the best with your future.

It was a pleasure.

*name has been changed to protect her identity

Let’s talk about Oscar Pristorious

23 Feb

fistula pic
I must admit I was glad to see the back of Oscar Pristorious, at least for now, so I can finally get some sleep!

After three sleepless nights following live court updates from a time zone nine hours ahead, not to mention the lively debates on Facebook, I was physically and emotionally exhausted and waited in weary anticipation for the big decision.

While the decision to grant bail was a disappointment to many of us, the magistrate gave a well reasoned judgement that was devoid of the emotions the world had become caught up in. In the heat of the moment we all forgot a bail hearing is not about determination of guilt, that’s for the trial.

And so, as we eagerly await what’s sure to be an explosive trial, the spotlight now shines on an issue that’s often swept under the carpet in African societies – violence against women.

Personally, I think the man did it and his story has all the markings of a narcissistic, controlling man who blows his top when he’s not able to control the object of his obsessive affection. The global adulation he’s received recently had no doubt created an air of invincibility.

Under the light walk the key characters that illuminate the complex nature of this discussion:
1.The alleged perpetrator who challenges society’s beliefs of what an abusive person looks like.
2.The Magistrate representing a justice system that often gives unequal treatment to victims and perpetrators.
3.The bumbling ‘African’police who are easily corruptible and undoubtedly swayed by a defendant’s race, wealth and social status.
4.The legal eagle who’s been described as a ‘legal gun for hire’ and represents the best ‘getaway card’ that money can buy.
5.The victim whom many wonder if she stayed too long in the relationship and ignored warning signs.
6.Society, whose opinion holds great sway but is rarely supportive of the victims.

Over the next few weeks we’ll focus on violence against women within the African culture. Please get in touch if you have personal experience and even if you don’t, join the discussions!

Next week an interview with Alice*, ‘This doesn’t happen to people like me.’

*Name has been changed to protect her identity

On mothers, boyfriends, toddlers and sex

10 Feb

toddlers 2The naked woman straddles the man whose bare legs are stretched out lazily in front of him. She’s lost in the moment as she works hard to extract what little pleasure she can from his small, limp penis.

A small, face appears behind her, a boy, perhaps two and a half, not quite three years old. He watches this scene for a second then calls out “mama”, no response. Maybe they didn’t hear so he tries louder “mama’, again no response, his mother’s attention is elsewhere. The little boy, looking trapped, raises his left arm and pulls at his ear in discomfort. Too young to understand exactly what’s going on he intuitively feels he shouldn’t be seeing this.

Speaking in Ndebele, the man says, “Sengiphos’ukuqeda” [I’m about to finish].

She stops briefly and asks “Uthi kunjani?” [What did you say?].

Ngithi kanti wena awuqedi? Sengiphosa ukuqeda” [I said are you not ready to finish? I’m about to finish], he repeats.

A few seconds later, the man puts his hand on her hip and the woman gets off his lap. “Mhh, angiqedanga mina” [Mhh, I didn’t finish] she says in disappointment.

“Uzabuya usuqeda” [You’ll finish later] he reassures her. She walks off the screen and the video ends.

Except the story doesn’t end there! Someone posts the video on the internet and so begins a global hunt to “name and shame” the woman.

She’s since been identified as a 24 year old Zimbabwean who lives in South Africa. She recently issued a statement to say the man in the video is the father of her son and the video must have been leaked by mobile phone repair workers when she took her phone for repairs.

An extract of her statement reads:

“The man who shot the video is my only lover and is father to my son. I was not coerced into making this video, we did it for fun. In fact, my boyfriend took the video using my cell phone. Soon after he gave it back to me and how it went viral is my sole responsibility. However, I remember at some stage I had problems with the cell phone and then took it to a cell phone repair shop. I believe it is where the video was stolen and then circulated.”

About her  son watching she says:

“I really don’t know why on earth I did not stop. I regret everything. Its now like I don’t love my son, I love him so much, nothing on earth surpasses my love for him.”

“I am now even scared going back to Zimbabwe. How am I gonna face my grandmother in Mzilikazi? I am being insulted and abused every day by strangers on my phone. There is no single day that passes without any abuse. I accept I made a terrible mistake but I want to assure all those who are concerned that such a thing won’t happen again.”

She goes on to say that the video has led to the father of her son resigning from work.

“He had taken me to his work place, unfortunately some people had seen the video and managed to identify me. It was so devastating, so my boyfriend had to resign from work because of that. Now you can see how we have suffered because of this. We are being tormented every day and night.”

This incident raises issues on so many levels, about parental responsibility, child abuse, African culture’s attitude towards women having sex, privacy and issues around bad sex and whether women should speak up when their needs are not met. Do you feel it matters whether the man is her only lover or the father of her child?, what about the man, why was there no campaign to name and shame him? Is it ever a good idea to let anyone make a sex tape of you?

This one’s up for general discussion.Tell us your thoughts!

She will not be silenced

13 Nov

Today we stand firmly behind Tinopona Mapereke Katsande for her courage in speaking out against domestic violence. Whilst she’s received overwhelming support from both women and men, we’ve been shocked at the vitriol directed at her, especially by other women who believe she’s to blame or got what she deserved. This mindset is exactly why bullies continue to believe they can act with impunity.

On Sunday the 11th of November 2012, I joined an alarming and ever increasing group of women who are victims of gender based violence in Zimbabwe.I speak to you now with chipped teeth, bruised ribs, swollen face, blood shot eyes, patches of uprooted hair from the pulling and a heavy heart BUT, I will also hasten to say that I write this statement because I’m alive. I’m a survivor but unfortunately that can’t be said for a lot of women. I’m not an exception, I have unfortunately become the norm. According to the 2005/6 Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey nearly 6 in every 10 women surveyed reported having experienced some violence perpetrated against them.

I want to thank everyone who is standing by me during this terrible time but I also ask you to not make it only about Tino. We are on the precipice of the beginning of the 16 days of activism against gender violence. Let’s band together and SAY NO TO VIOLENCE.

Some people keep telling me not to talk about it. Some said keep it at home and ma “domestic”. Someone even said “Chakafukidza dzimba matenga” and I must keep it quiet.

I will not keep quiet, I will never keep quiet.