14 April 2005

Zimbabwe: Cases of Women Abusing Men Rise

Harare — IT IS high time men came out of their cocoon shells and report all cases of harassment perpetrated on them by their partners.

There has been a steady increase of men who have been taking their lives following harassment and violence by their partners.

The unfortunate development comes against a campaign by some civic organisations that indicate 99 percent of women are survivors of gender based violence in this country. These statistics are however as of 1996.

It is however apparent that the situations could have changed as reports on violence against men continue to be highlighted in the Press.

Police on the other hand have indicated that male survivors of gender based violence do not usually suffer physical assault and as a result there is no proper documentation or reports at the police.

They suffer in silence as their partners hurl verbal assaults.

A few cases have however found their way to civil courts while it appears the majority were dealt with at family level.

Most men were said to bottle their feelings and when their problems intensified, they would just commit suicide.

On Friday last week a Harare woman, Mrs Juliet Jubani whose uncle hanged himself after his wife confessed that his two of their seven children were not his, gave a heart-rending account of how the deceased had become a prisoner in his own home.

After buying his family a house in one of Harare's High-density suburbs, the Parirenyatwa hospital professional had sought a peace order to protect himself from his wife who had become his nightmare.

The man who was buried this week on Tuesday had also moved into a spare bedroom where he did his cooking and laundry. He had also continued maintaining his estranged wife and the children he had not fathered.

A Chitungwiza man indicated that the majority of men were not willing to divulge the difficult circumstances they were being subjected to, on the domestic front as making a report or complaint was viewed as weakness.

"People will think you are governed by your wife and in our patriarchal society it is not acceptable that murume angatongwe kana kushushwa nemukadzi," he said.

Another man from Harare said owing to the new revolution, in which some women are now earning more than their husbands, some men have virtually become prisoners.

"Some women who earn more than their husbands feel they are more important and powerful as they contribute more into the family.

"We are not saying it is bad for our women to be empowered but they should always uphold our traditional and Christian values that clearly define the roles of both parties."

The other problem was that some women had trekked to western countries to work as nurses and doctors, where they were earning much more cash than their husbands who were left back home.

This had created a lot of tension as the men involved felt their position as provider had been robbed from them.

Some women have also been accused of using juju on their husbands to make them foolish so they could take control of the household.

A traditional healer, Mrs Stella Musasa confirmed usage of black magic using herbs that could make a man stupid and lose sense of what was happening in the home.

"Such herbs are however not recommended because they can eventually harm the man or even cost his life," Mrs Musasa said.

Director in the Ministry of Youth Development, Gender and Employment Creation, Mrs Jane Juru said her Ministry had formulated an Action Plan meant to investigate and find ways to curb gender based violence perpetrated on both men and women.

"Our doors are open for both men and women survivors. We are keen to deal with all issues without favour. We are also working closely with Padare Men's Forum to get a better picture on harassment and violence perpetrated on men by women," Mrs Juru said.

She said her Ministry was also working closely with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) that mainly targets on projects focusing on women survivors.

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