Gender Links (Johannesburg)

5 December 2012

Lesotho: Abused for Bearing Female Children

opinion

My name is Mantebaleng Ramokhele and I live in the Mohale's Hoek district in Lesotho. I was married to a man that I was dearly in love with. Even today, I still do not understand what happened to him and why he changed so much. He was like somebody new to me, I really did not know him anymore and when I asked him about it, he would get very angry and start to beat me up.

My husband abused me like he was forced into our marriage. We fell in love and we were so much in love that I did not understand what really went wrong, but he did not want anything to do with me. He wanted to have a kid as soon as possible, but it was a challenge because I was not able to conceive. It was really difficult and he was not ready to see a doctor in order to determine what was really wrong.

All the blame was put on me and because I loved him, I was ready to sort out all of our problems and to see what we could possibly do, but my husband was not keen. God works miraculous, and in 1977 I got pregnant with my first child and my husband was very happy. Even though his dreams had finally come true, he was disappointed because the child that was born was a girl, and apparently he was expecting a boy.

Things got really nasty, but it was not my decision to make and I was not the one who made the baby a girl, but he wanted a boy.

He would insult me everyday and he did not even touch the baby because she was not the boy that he wanted. Things were really tough for me and it was then that I thought that things would be easier for me because he was complaining so much about the baby and finally the baby was there. He would buy food for me and the baby; but, he would also beat me up without a reason. I was living a very difficult life. In 1981, I got pregnant again and the second baby girl was born.

That was the toughest year of my life, my husband was very angry, he would beat me to death telling me that he was tired of me giving him girls, as if it was my fault.

My life was very difficult and I did not know what to do with my girls, it was nobody's fault. We do not choose the sex of our babies, but my husband was taking it as if I had something to do with it. I told him that maybe it was better if we did not have any more kids after, but he refused and told me that he wants to keep having children until I have a boy. It was very difficult.

In 1984 I got pregnant again, and again it was a very beautiful girl. That time I was nearly killed, he was very very angry and he wanted to kill the baby. I fought like nothing before; it was not the baby's fault, nor my fault.

The baby was a gift from God and He was the one who decided. I tried to tell family so that they could intervene, but they failed. They said that my husband wanted a boy and there was nothing that they could do about it. He wanted a boy and he was willing to do whatever it takes to have one, even if he had to kill me. He was ready to do that. I tried to get help in lots of places, but what I wanted was really very difficult because it is a very hard decision to make.

In 1987, I gave birth to another girl and that was the end of my marriage. He was furious, and the moment he was told that the baby had arrived and it was another girl, he packed all his clothes and he left me with our four girls. He told the family members that he could not stay with us. He was going to look for a "real" woman who could give him an heir. I was very angry, I did not deserve that. I was supposed to live with the man I love with my whole heart and with our kids that he loved, but it was different.

It has been so many years now and I haven't seen him. I am struggling with all these children and I am not working. He does not care about his children, and they always ask me about their father. I think it is now better that he left because nobody is insulting me or beating me up. I just do not have anything, but at least I have peace and my life.

Mantebaleng Ramokhele lives in Lesotho. This story is part of the "I" Stories series produced by the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service for the Sixteen Days of Activism on Gender Violence.

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