Analysis: SHIKANDA KAWANGA
‘LOVE conquers all’ is one saying that most people know but is either misunderstood or never put into practice.
According to the Good News Bible, love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or conceited or proud; love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. Love never gives up; and its faith, hope and patience never fail.
Therefore the biblical definition of ‘love’ shows that among people, it can fight many social ills, including gender-based violence (GBV).
It is against this background that the need to promote love in families cannot be overemphasised.
Love for humanity is cardinal because, without this deep affection from a spouse, parent or friend, one is bound to suffer emotionally.
And the Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs has been instrumental in instilling Christian values in the general citizenry to fight many retrogressive vices that continue to harm the country.
A cross-section of society has attributed GBV to moral degradation, hence the ministry’s role of propagating good morals.
According to recent research findings, most policies presently adopted focus on the problem of violence rather than its prevention.
Of course, the penalties against perpetrators of GBV are stiff, yet the country still records more cases.
Fighting the problem is a good thing but preventing it is better.
This can only be attained once there is behavioural change among people.
Though prevention of GBV, among other social ills, is being championed mainly by the Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Gender, the spirit of teamwork is the best approach.
There are various reasons why GBV should be fought using various interventions. The vice brings about broken families.
This can lead to a broken society which can affect economic development.
GBV hinders national productivity as it usually occurs amongst, people in the productive age group.
There are other interventions that must be publicised alongside love for one another, such as strengthened sensitisation in families and communities.
Families must be equipped with knowledge on how to deal with GBV to reduce the many spouse battering cases and killings that occur among couples.
There is no reason or circumstance that should justify any form of violence between spouses in Zambia or elsewhere in the world.
This attitude is unacceptable. Violence must not be accepted in our society, including when it occurs within a marriage set-up.
It is an undisputable fact that GBV affects both males and females, though women and girls remain the most affected by the vice.
Though most energies in the fight against GBV have been concentrated on physical and sexual abuse, there is need for us to address issues such as emotional abuse and violence against men.
There is nothing more damaging to one’s confidence and self-esteem than being in an emotionally abusive relationship. Unlike physical abuse, which rears its ugly head in dramatic outbursts, emotional abuse can be more insidious and elusive. In some cases, neither the abuser nor the victim is fully aware that it is happening.
Although emotional abuse doesn’t leave physical scars, it can have a huge impact on one’s confidence and self-esteem. Emotional abuse comes in many forms, which might not be obvious at first.
It can be a sneaky killer of the spirit.
Most people know about physical abuse, but with regard to emotional abuse, people tend to think there is much more of a ‘grey area’.
Emotional abuse has something to do with treating a spouse or another person badly, such as name-calling or making them feel useless.
Intimidation and threats are some of the examples of emotional abuse. It includes shouting at somebody, acting aggressively or just generally making one feel scared.
Criticism could also be another form of emotional abuse; name-calling or making a lot of unpleasant or sarcastic comments. This can really lower a person’s self-esteem and self-confidence.
Undermining is also another example of emotional abuse which might include unfairly dismissing one’s opinion. It can also involve making one doubt their own opinion by disrespectfully disputing their viewpoint and sometimes suddenly being really nice to them after being cruel.
Being made to feel guilty could also be another example. This can range from outright emotional blackmail (threats to kill oneself or lots of emotional outbursts) to sulking all the time or giving one a silent treatment as a way of manipulation.
Emotional abuse can sometimes take an economic twist. This could be actions such as withholding money and not involving your partner in any financial transactions such as budgeting. Sometimes it even involves preventing someone from getting a job so that they are never independent.
This kind of abuse is generally about control. Sometimes a partner dictates when and where to go. There is a tendency by some women and men to command their partners. This one is even perpetrated by parents who command their children to follow them to a particular church or to pursue a certain career path.
Being on the receiving end can be damaging and upsetting, and can lead to depression and sometimes death.
The country has recorded many unexplained cases of spousal killings and some deaths resulting from depression due to emotional abuse that occurs in relationships.
It is true that love can conquer GBV and all other social ills that Zambia and the world at large are grappling with, provided that people do the right thing. Addressing emotional abuse can provide a holistic approach to curbing GBV.
The author is Zambia Daily Mail photojournalist.