Gender

Never too late to leave abusive relationship

MONICA KAYOMBO Lusaka
GENDER based violence (GBV)can be traumatising. As a result, most victims fail to stabilise, unless some necessary interventions are made.Giving up is not Ethel Kapinga’s portion as she has managed to overcome the trauma she underwent after falling pregnant by a man who married her and later abandoned her.She is now a fashion designer who showcased some of her work at the Zambia Fashion Week last year.Ms Kapinga recently participated in the United States (US) embassy-supported Kuku project training to help her improve her project management skills and expand her partnership network.Today, she is among several women being mentored by Njira youth skills training centre in fashion and designing. She comes from a family of six and is the fifth born in her family.She started school in 2002 but stopped in 2009 because her family had no resources to enable her to proceed to Grade Eight.“My parents were not working at the time. They could only provide food for us.I stayed home for a year,’’ she recalls.In 2011, her parents decided to take her back to school, and as fate had it, she again hit a snag upon making it to Grade 10.After some months, she approached her aunt who lives in Lusaka to allow her stay with her so that she could help her with house chores.“When I came to Lusaka, I did not know that she would help me. She just told me that I would go back to school,’’ she says.Ms Kapinga is grateful to her aunt for taking her back to school when she least expected it.“When she took me, she never mentioned that she was taking me back to school,’’ she says.In 2012, she started her Grade 10.Unfortunately , when she was in Grade 11,her aunt died.This meant that she again had to drop out of school.Returning to Rufunsa was not the best option for her , but she had to do it because she had no one else to turn to for help.After being at home for two years, she met the father of her child.The two got married but after she got pregnant, her husband changed and stopped talking to her . “He became a different person, he became very violent. Sometimes, it reached a point where he would want to strangle me,’’she says.After giving birth, Ms Kapinga left her violent spouse and decided to join her sister in Mtendere Township in Lusaka.Ms Kapinga, whose son is three years old, says since she left the village, her husband has never communicated with her ,let alone sent any support for his son.“He does not give our child any support.We don’t even talk,’’she says.Asked on how she found herself in the fashion industry , Ms Kapinga says she had passion for fashion. She recalls that when she was a child, she always designed and knitted clothes for her dolls and the interest kept growing.“I loved making clothes for my dolls,’’she says.She remembers that one day she was at home watching television and she watched a programme where women from Njira youth skills training centre were graduating.She took interest and looked for the training centre and she enrolled for a one year course in fashion and design.Ms Kapinga says last year ’s Fashion Week was an eye-opener for many girls at Njira as all of them showcased their work. She is not just interested in fashion and design, but her wish is to complete her Grade 12 and enrol for information communications technology (ICT) and graphic designing courses.“I have a lot of interest in ICT and graphic designing,’’she says.Elizabeth Mpande, a tutor at Njira youth skills training centre, says her institution recruits GBV survivors and helps them become self-sustainable.“We recruit survivors of GBV , teen mothers and orphans and those who could not finish school because of circumstances
beyond their control,’’ Ms Mpande said.She says the Church, police, hospitals and the community help the institution in the recruitment process.The
candidates are not charged any fees for acquiring the skills.During the course ,the women are also taught home management,survival skills,how to run businesses and how to take care of themselves.“The training is not just about fashion designing.We are also mentored in many things,’’she says.Ms Kapinga wants to grow her business and employ more women as a way of empowering them.She notes that it is never too late for anyone to leave an abusive relationship and seek help. She says asking for help is not a crime.“There are many people out there who are willing to help women who have been abused,” she says.



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