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‘When marriage burns, walk out’

YANDE SYAMPEYO, Lusaka
WHAT seemed to be a normal, perfect day turned out ugly for Edward Phiri of Lusaka’s Bauleni, when his ‘dear wife’, who is pregnant poured boiling water on his back after a marital dispute.

However, this is not the first time Edward, who works as a ‘garden boy’ in the neighbouring Nyumba Yanga area has suffered mental and or emotional abuse at the hands of his wife of five years.
The father of one has on several occasions suffered gender-based violence but he resolved to downplay the abuse and shut it up in his heart and mind for fear of being ridiculed by friends and family.
Edward narrates how on the fateful day, Tuesday May 2, 2017,  before he left for work, gave his wife money and instructed her to buy some food for the household and clothing for the unborn child.
However, upon returning home in the evening, he discovered his wife had not perfectly executed his ‘instruction’ and when he confronted her, she responded aggressively.
“On the day, I gave my wife some money to buy some ‘stuff for our unborn child’ and food for the household but surprisingly when I returned from work, I realised she did not buy some of the items as instructed.
“When I confronted her, she snapped and in my attempt to quench the misunderstanding, I tried to walk out of the house but she pulled my shirt and grabbed a pot of boiling water from the brazier and emptied it onto my back. I felt this incredible pain and I fell to the ground. She started hitting me while I was on the floor and I cried out for help,” Edward recalls.
Edward’s elder sister, Bridget Mawere, who lives next door, rushed to his rescue and took him to Chilenje Clinic for medical attention while an angry mob dragged his wife to the police post.
As if the predicament was not enough, some unscrupulous people took advantage of the ‘confusion’ and ransacked the house. They got away with food and other household goods.
The estranged husband suffered severe burns on his back and his pregnant wife was arrested and detained at Bauleni Police Post.
Bridget was at her brother’s bedside until he was discharged from hospital after three days for continued care and treatment at home.
As for Edward’s wife, well, he dropped the charges against her and had her released from police custody after her relatives pleaded for leniency due to the ‘delicate condition’ she is in.
Notwithstanding the love he holds for his family, Edward vows not to reconcile with her as he fears she is after his life.
his wife had the guts to visit him at home after she was released from police custody, his angry sisters turned her away.
“I have suffered enough at the hands of my wife. She abuses me physically and emotionally and despite some of my relatives having advised me to leave her, I hung on but it is now clear she wants to kill me.
“How do you injure someone you love to this extent?” he asks as he pulls his shirt to expose the wound. “She is the mother of my child but I cannot continue to live with such a woman, she is a danger to my life,” he laments.
Edward recounts how his wife  was so loving during their courtship days but she suddenly changed in marriage.
“Since we married, it has been one problem after another. She once hit me with a hot brazier at the back of my head.  I have marks all over my body out of her violence. She hits me with all sorts of utensils when we differ but I always forgave her. This time around, there is no turning back,” Edward charges.
He says he works tirelessly to fend for his family but his efforts are seemingly not appreciated by his wife, who is currently ‘accommodated’ at her parents’ home.
Edward, who is still on the mend, hails his employer for being patient with him in the current predicament adding he will continue working to support his children.
“Can you imagine that I had to drag myself to my place of work to seek audience with my boss just to prove to him that I was hurt by my wife. This is how much I treasure my job as it puts food on my table,” he says.
He advises men who are entangled in troubled marriages and or relationships to break free and speak out before the worst happens.
“You gain nothing by hiding the violence inflicted on you, either by a wife or husband. People should learn from situations like mine where it took ‘boiling water’ to push me to speak out,” he says.
As for Edward’s sister, Bridget, who lost her husband over four months ago, she feels love enslaved her brother and made him blind to gender-based violence.
She says taking care of her brother’s wound hasn’t been easy as she ‘feels’ his pain adding that the situation has crippled her ability  to take care of her children.
Bridget, who has no kind words for her sister-in-law, says the incident was regrettable and uncalled for.
She advises couples to resolve differences amicably adding that violence is ugly and a sin against God.
“I have been advising my brother to leave his violent wife but he doesn’t seem to listen. She is a dangerous woman capable of taking his life,” Bridget says.
Edward’s in-law, only identified as Sandra, says although the family regrets the incident, they could not ‘stomach’ the thought of their relative, who is pregnant, to languish in jail.
“This is the reason we had to plead for her release because her condition is delicate, she needs special attention,” Sandra says.  
Women’s Lobby board chairperson Beauty Katebe says it is regrettable when women who probably do not know what they want in marriage resort to violence.
Ms Katebe laments and regrets the increasing cases of men suffering various forms of abuse at the hands of their wives.
She adds the most unfortunate part is most men conceal the violence against them for fear of humiliation by the public.
“But we always encourage such men through the media that they should come out in the open and report such cases. Most men shy to go public but we need to see these cases to their conclusive end,” she says.
Ms Katebe says the concealing of domestic violence is causing some couples to kill one another.
She says gender-based violence should not be entertained as it usually escalates to regrettable circumstances such as death.
Ms Katebe says couples whose marriages have broken down irretrievably should consider divorce as opposed to resorting to gender based violence.
“I always advise couples, if a marriage fails, it is better you decide to divorce, live apart instead of waiting until water is poured on you or you are stabbed.
“When couples get to an extent of people pouring water on one another, it is because they have had it enough and they resort to such acts, so it is better when you are fed-up, you part company,” Ms Katebe says.
She regrets that most cases of gender based violence are withdrawn by either partner before they are tried in the courts.
Ms Katebe says gender-based violence and other cases are supposed to be heard to its conclusive end.
“At the end of the day, that is why as women, we are not supposed to be involved in such cases. Imagine a situation where you need to go to prison and you are pregnant? You then compel someone to feel sorry for you because of the pregnancy. In normal circumstances, you allow such cases to go forward and be heard to the latter,” Ms Katebe says.
Husband abuse is no different from wife abuse. Whether the abuse is physical, verbal, mental or emotional, it is abuse and should not to be tolerated.
It is a fact that men who are abused by women they love are often silent victims of gender-based violence by choice because they do not want to be laughed at when they speak out.
they do not call the police or make a police report. They hope their abusive spouse or partner will change and the bad relationship will become a healthy, happy marriage that will last a lifetime.
However, men in abusive relationships need to realise and come to terms with the fact that abuse can be deeply entrenched in a spouse’s personality.
Men need to emulate Edward and stand up and speak out now.

 

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