Making excuses is never a bright idea. Making excuses for the right person sometimes blows up in your face. Making excuses for the wrong person always blows up in your face. In all making excuses is not the way out.
Miriam and Tony had been in a relationship for three years. In the first year of their relationship, it was all milk and honey. Tony had a good paying job that got them by. He was able to take care of her and provide her basic necessities. They were the envy of all. This didn’t last for long though as seven months into the relationship, Tony lost his job and ended up with an ok job. He was still able to foot some of her bills but begged her that they cut back on some of the excesses.
At this point he saw another side of Miriam. She will snob him and refuse to wash his cloths which she usually does. She kept saying she was tired of the relationship and the only reason she was still there is because she was already pregnant and her family had washed their hands off her. The irony is, when Tony still had cash flowing, she made it clear to her family that she did not need them and that was the reason they washed hands off her. Her attitude toward Tony continued and his friends began to notice. Every time they tried to bring it up, he will deny it saying she is the best woman he could ever know. He made petite excuses like, “it’s the pregnancy”, “she had a fight with her parents”, “school is not favourable for her” etc. Sometimes he will even say it was her period even though she was pregnant. The more excuses he made, the worse she became.
One calm evening, Tony came back tired and all he wanted to do was sleep. He had lost interest even in the food she cooked. Miriam got on again complaining about one of her nothings. He left her and shifted to the living room but she persisted. All the words kept running out of her mouth, for the first time his hand came flying down on her. He pounced on her and unleashed all his anger. After giving her a good spanking, she was quiet and sober. The next day, he said he was sorry and was never going to do it again. Two days later when she got at it again, it repeated itself and became a routine for Tony. Somehow now he felt that it gave him power and peace of mind.
Notice it was just his feeling. What good feeling is there when you do things under the influence of alcohol? In his defense it had become so bad he needed alcohol to get by her nagging. Imagine the heavy influence of alcohol coupled with insults from friends reminding him how less of a man he is for letting a woman walk over him. He made this a habit he enjoyed. After all, she had no family to run to and no one to actually complain to. This went on and Miriam was too ashamed to talk about it. Instead she kept it to herself and will only nag him which will lead to more battery. The only day she opened up was when she was bleeding. He had come home so drunk and wanted to please himself. All she could see was a drunken man covered with rage. When she resisted, they got into it and she ended up face-front on the ground. This led to early placenta detachment and she had to be rushed to the theatre due to excessive bleeding. She survived but the baby did not. She might have been the cause but did it make the act right? In the end they both suffered.
WHAT: Violence against Women and girls
Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today and it remains largely unreported due to the impunity, silence, stigma and shame surrounding it.
In general terms, it manifests itself in physical, sexual and psychological forms, encompassing:
To further clarify, the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women issued by the UN General Assembly in 1993, defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”
Violence against women defiles SDGs 5, 10 and 16.
- 1 in 3 women and girls experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, most frequently by an intimate partner
- Only 52% of women married or in a union freely make their own decisions about sexual relations, contraceptive use and health care
- Worldwide, almost 750 million women and girls alive today were married before their 18th birthday; while 200 million women and girls have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM)
- 1 in 2 women killed worldwide were killed by their partners or family in 2017; while only 1 out of 20 men were killed under similar circumstances
- 71% of all human trafficking victims worldwide are women and girls, and 3 out of 4 of these women and girls are sexually exploited
- Violence against women is as serious a cause of death and incapacity among women of reproductive age as cancer, and a greater cause of ill health than traffic accidents and malaria combine.
In Cameroon according to the UNWomen Database,
- Lifetime Physical and/or Sexual Intimate Partner Violence is at 51 %
- Physical and/or Sexual Intimate Partner Violence in the last 12 months is at 33 %
- Lifetime Non-Partner Sexual Violence is 5 %
- Child Marriage at 31 %
- Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting at 1 %
It is worthy of note that the adverse psychological, sexual and reproductive health consequences of VAWG affect women at all stages of their life. For example, early-set educational disadvantages not only represent the primary obstacle to universal schooling and the right to education for girls; down the line they are also to blame for restricting access to higher education and even translate into limited opportunities for women in the labour market.
We however cannot combat VAWG without looking at some of the causes. True some men do it because they feel they can or because they think they are more powerful. But like most men have said and we can not neglect, it is out of frustration as in the case of Tony. Not saying the strategy he took was a good one. If for anything, it was a show of weakness and how low he could go.
If physical violence is provoked, what of the other forms of violence? Some of the causes of VAWG include:
- gender norms
- accepting and sometimes approving of men’s violence against women
- men controlling decision-making
- limits to women’s independence in public and private life
- interactions between men that are aggressive and disrespectful towards women.
- experience of and exposure to violence
- alcohol and substance use
- some cultural and religious practices
- loss of traditional family and community support systems
The essence of the above write up is to say that violence is not the way out. Sometimes the woman may be the cause but it still does not make it right. The scene above is just one form of violence. If we insist that a woman was the architect of it, then what about the others? Ladies as we fight for ourselves be sure not to be the architect of violence and I insist it does not make it right. And let us not leave behind the men who also experience these forms of violence.
Every 25th of November, since the year 2000, we celebrate international day of elimination of violence against Women. The theme for this year is “Orange the world: Generation equality stands against rape”. Women, Men, Boys and Girls think about it.
By Dr Fozao Mbi Vanessa