How women dig their own graves


IN the early hours of Tuesday last week, news broke that a woman had been stabbed to death in Lusaka’s Kalingalinga township. Information reaching the newsroom was that the deceased’s body was discovered by neighbours in her house with multiple wounds. The murderer, according to eye-witnesses, must have used a knife or screwdriver to commit the monstrous act.
Hours later Police Service spokesperson Charity Munganga-Chanda was confirming the death of one Besnat Daka, 38, and the prime suspect was her husband, Yorum Tembo.
Tembo had fled to an unknown destination after the murder of his wife, and this act alone gave him away.
“Besnat was discovered this morning (last week Tuesday) with multiple injuries. A man-hunt for the suspect has been launched,” Mrs Chanda said.
Before police could fish him out of his hideout, Tembo surrendered himself to the law enforcers on Saturday.
And according to Mrs Chanda, Tembo confessed to having killed Besnat, who he claimed was not his wife, but apparently his live-in partner.
Well, Mrs Chanda’s statement on the Zambia Police WhatsApp forum for journalists prompted a debate about why women allow men to abuse them until the maltreatment ends in death.
The argument was that the attack such as the one Besnat experienced, starts in a gradual process and one could escape it because the assassin will send warning signs before he strikes.
The thrust of the argument was that women could escape passion murders at the hand of intimate partners if they are smart enough.
Some of the arguments that I agreed with were that abused women live in denial of the harsh reality, or rather they are blinded by love, and this tends to give the abuser leeway to go the extra mile.
One journalist, presumably male, set the ball rolling with the remarks: ‘But women also should learn. Someone beats you to pulp and you go and bail him.’
According to this journalist, Besnat’s friend said that the deceased and the suspect used to fight almost every day.
And a day before Besnat was murdered, Tembo had allegedly destroyed all household goods and promised the woman that he would come back for her.
So basically, the debate went on about how women should not take abusive partners for granted, because one day, they could actualise their threats.
Being a campaigner for gender equality and equity, I keenly followed the debate, and learnt of how sometimes victims of abuse tend to lose their good sense of judgement.
Someone actually said victims of gender violence should not be harshly judged by people who have never been in their shoes. Apparently abusers have a way of controlling the mind-sets of their victims, and one’s sense of judgement may be clouded by false assurances and ‘quoted love’.
From what I hear, it’s not only economic insecurity that traps women in abusive relationships, but rather that abusive men have other strengths, which help them keep their victims in bondage.
Some tend to show a false sense of remorse, which re-assures victims; others may be charming, ‘caring’, generous and thus would portray a picture of a responsible husband and father.
This is why, in most cases, it’s difficult to convince someone who is being abused to see beyond the abuser’s mask. And sadly, some of these cases end in death or serious maim.
But I quite agree that no matter the kind of masquerade an abusive partner may put up, women should not take things for granted given the rise in crimes of passion.
There should be no shame in coming out of the cocoon and seeking help if one is being abused by an intimate partner, either physically or emotionally.
Neither should one be ashamed of ending a marriage that puts one’s life at risk, regardless of what ‘traditional moralists’ may want to say about such a woman.
If a man could mercilessly beat his wife, sometimes in front of children, there is nothing that could stop him from taking his misdeeds to a higher degree.
And just the thought of becoming a punching bag, no matter the sweet talk or comforts of life that the abuser may provide, it’s an indication that the masked man has no respect for you, and therefore not worthy of your love.
A lot of women are being killed by their husbands and boyfriends, yet surprisingly, we have countless women withdrawing cases of gender violence from the courts of law.
Other women simply refuse to report cases to police; and not to talk of testifying against their abusers in courts of law.
And once the abuser knows that he has your mental faculties under control, he can abuse you in any way, knowing he would get away with it.
I wish we could get more women like the Kitwe housewife who was last week granted divorce by a local court against her husband of 13 years because of his alleged violent and cruel nature.
According to a story in our Sunday Mail, Elizabeth Banda narrated to the local court how her husband, one Ngela Lubinda, would target her private parts when they fought. He would deliberately push objects in her private parts to inflict pain.
She said the last five years of marriage have been tormenting as her husband would beat her even in front of their children.
One day, she was naked when he was beating her. She ran outside. He then followed her to do the ‘private part’ torture.
I was amazed to learn of how Lubinda was torturing his wife and my immediate reaction was that, ‘some men are not meant to marry. Marriage is not just their thing’.
Really, I don’t know why men like Lubinda tend to stray into marriage, because it’s not meant for such cruel fellows.
Although Ms Banda’s brave act was long overdue, I was impressed that she finally took the decision of severing ties with the sadist of a husband.
In her plea for divorce, she told the Garneton local court: ‘I am afraid that he would kill me one day.’
Such thoughts, I believe, should linger on the minds of other women in abusive relationships, be it marriage or courtship. And when the danger lights start gleaming, the earlier one takes the exit route, the better.
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