Call to step up GBV fight

Lesotho Times - - News - Pas­cali­nah Kabi

WOMEN have been urged to break free from abu­sive re­la­tion­ships in or­der to save them­selves the emo­tional trauma as well as their lives.

The call was made by a sur­vivor of gen­der-based vi­o­lence, ‘Mathato Taeli dur­ing an event or­gan­ised by Bam Me­dia Group in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Amer­i­can Em­bassy to mark 16 Days of Ac­tivism against gen­der based vi­o­lence (GBV).

The 16 Days of Ac­tivism are meant to gal­vanise ac­tion to end vi­o­lence against women and girls around the world. The com­mem­o­ra­tions which started on 25 Novem­ber will end on Hu­man Rights Day on Satur­day.

The 2016 cam­paign strongly em­pha­sises the need for sus­tain­able fi­nanc­ing for ef­forts to end vi­o­lence against women and girls to­wards the ful­fil­ment of the 2030 Agenda for Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment.

Ms Taeli urged women not to con­done abuse by stick­ing to out­dated no­tions that ‘real African women do not run away from their mat­ri­mo­nial homes’ even in the face of abuse from their hus­bands.

Ms Taeli re­counted how she had stayed on in an abu­sive mar­riage for 15 years, adding that per­versely, she even felt “very im­por­tant” in that abu­sive mar­riage.

“I am an an­gry woman. I know the pain and abuse in and out. I don’t know what it will take for me to heal,” Ms Taeli said.

“Women are strong. We can get out of abu­sive re­la­tion­ships only if we stopped try­ing so hard to be like our mothers and grand­moth­ers who were forced by so­ci­etal norms to stay in abu­sive mar­riages.

“At the time I got mar­ried, my par­ents were 25 years into mar­riage and I vowed to stay longer than them and maybe this is why I en­dured the 15 years abu­sive mar­riage,” Ms Taeli said.

She said her late hus­band cov­ered his abu­sive be­hav­iour by call­ing her “First Lady” and declar­ing undy­ing love for his wife to ev­ery­one who cared to lis­ten.

“Tues­day to Thurs­day were happy days in our mar­riage and all hell would break loose from Fri­day to Mon­day.

“He would rape me to prove that he was not with a woman from Fri­day to Mon­day when he was not at home,” Ms Taeli said.

She said the abuse only ended in 2014 when her hus­band was mer­ci­lessly killed at his “lover’s house”, leav­ing her with a paral­ysed child who tried to com­mit sui­cide to es­cape his fa­ther’s abu­sive be­hav­iour.

“My hus­band was a sol­dier and got killed at the time there was a con­flict be­tween the army and the po­lice, so the po­lice re­fused to in­ves­ti­gate his death and I live with the pain of see­ing his sus­pected killers al­most ev­ery day,” she said.

A youth rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Phokoane Taoana said the coun­try could curb GBV by deal­ing with man­i­fes­ta­tions of the scourge among chil­dren.

“In schools and so­ci­ety, chil­dren abuse each other and that is brushed off on the ba­sis that the chil­dren are only play­ing,” Ms Taoana said, adding, as re­sult abu­sive be­hav­iour con­tin­ued to flour­ish to a point where it was ac­cepted as nor­mal by vic­tim and per­pe­tra­tors.

“As in­di­vid­u­als, what are we do­ing about these abu­sive re­la­tion­ships?

“Woman to woman, we also need to check our­selves as half the time we also abuse each other.

“It is up to us to change the way we be­have. If you are abused, speak up and seek sup­port from trusted per­sons around you. Abuse has to stop to­day,” she said.

Bam Me­dia Group rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Tšepang Tšita-mosena said it was time women changed the in­sti­tu­tion of mar­riage by re­fus­ing to be abused.

“Most women find them­selves trapped in abu­sive re­la­tion­ships be­cause of the fi­nan­cial de­pen­dency syn­drome. Get out of your shell and stop feel­ing help­less,” Ms Tšita-mosena said, adding, women could avoid abuse and shape their own des­tinies if they went out of their way to make their own money.

She said abuse would con­tinue as long as women did not ag­gres­sively as­serted them­selves against abu­sive part­ners.

“Our spouses know us and they can tell when we are scared of them. Be as­sertive and mean what you are say­ing,” Ms Tšita-mosena said.

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