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Τρίτη, 20 Δεκεμβρίου 2011

When you are a woman, you have no voice

As told by Aisha, 36 years old

“I was born in Rakai and I went to school up to the age of 14. Then I had to stop because my parents could not pay school fees. I got married at 16 and I came to live in Kireka (a suburb of Kampala).  My husband is a builder and the first 6 years of our marriage we had no big problems. But then he brought home a second wife and he asked me to leave the house.

 I refused to leave the house and he started beating me. I had two children and I was 4 months pregnant. He gave me money and he asked me to have an abortion because he did not want the baby. When I said no, he came back to the house and started kicking me and punching my head on the wall. He locked me out of the house so I went to stay with my mother in law. Things were calm for a while but then my mother in law died and he wanted to sell her property. He would come to the house and he would beat me up in front of the children. At that time I got pregnant again but he did not stop kicking me. I reported him to the Local Council asking for help but he managed to bribe them and they ignored all my pleas.
He used to come to the house occasionally, spent the night but bringing no food for me and my children. One day he came with a note, asking me to go out and buy things for the second wife. When I refused he tried to strangle me, saying that I was of no use. My oldest daughter screamed for help and one of the neighbors came in and pulled my husband away. I reported him again to the Local Council but they did not take any action against him. I contacted FIDA (the association of Uganda Women Lawyers) that helped me to take my case to the court. I had no money to pay the court fees so I dropped my case.

My husband kept on threatening that he will kill me and my children so I reported him to the police. The police arrested him and made him sign a declaration that he would stop harassing me. When we returned home, he came in and started kicking me and punching me. He would also beat the children. One day he took a knife and he tried to cut my throat. He stopped only when the neighbors heard the screams and came in the house. After that, a woman told me to go the Center for Domestic Violence. There, they accompanied me to the police station and I reported him again. This time the police arrested him but he bribed them to escape.
Since then he had disappeared but occasionally he comes around and threats to kill me and my children.  I earn 90.000 shillings (29 euro /38 USD) per month from 3 small rentals, but he has been trying to sell my property all that time, leaving me with no money. I have no expectations for my life and I live in the constant fear that my husband will come back any time to kill me and my children.
When you are a woman you have no voice. Men are allowed to do whatever they want and they never get punished”.

 In Uganda Gender Based Violence is a rampant problem affecting more than half of the female population. According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics 68 percent of ever married women aged 15 to 49 had experienced some form of violence by their husbands or partners. According to a survey conducted by the US Department of State and published in 2007 (Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2007) 70 percent of women in Uganda had been physically or sexually abused. Statistics published by UNICEF in its 2008 report indicate that 77 percent of women consider domestic violence justified if the woman burns food or refuses to comply to her husband’ wishes.
Ugandan women confront a male-dominated power structure that justifies men’s entitlement to dictate the terms of relationships and marriage. Customs such as the payment of bride price, widow inheritance by a man of his brother’s widow, or polygynous marriages render women even more vulnerable to abusive relationships and often expose them to a higher risk of HIV transmission.
Fighting Gender Based violence requires above all significant changes in individual and community cultural beliefs towards such violence. Domestic violence deprives women of bodily integrity and eliminates their ability to negotiate their placement in the society.
Access to education and elimination of negative cultural attitudes towards women through community based projects seems to be the only way to tackle physical and sexual abuse against women and young girls.

2 σχόλια:

Christina είπε...

Unfortunately, I cant say much here...All the bride illusion about Africa is being constantly ruined by such reports. I feel sorry for the women...and will never forget the way our guide in Kenya said "yes, we beat our women", like it was the most acceptable and normal act..but its not..

Fran είπε...

GBV is a major problem in Africa. Its connected to negative cultural attitudes but also to poverty. Girls in Africa also lack of female role models . I think that if we empower women through education and financial schemes we can fight the root cause. But if we dont change the perceptions of gender then nothing can be done. Fortunately many organisations work through this approach. I think that the next generation of african girls will have better chances.

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