On a warm afternoon at the University, I sat with an older friend of mine talking about her fiance and their plans for marriage. She said he was surprised to discover she was already 28years old and felt deceived by her baby face (fiance was 38 years old at the time) and if he had known earlier, he would have nipped their friendship in the bud. I was in dismay with her innocent confession and I asked how old does he expects his wife to be. She said most brothers in her region(Kwara state) love much younger girls and with a smile on her face, she said its good; her baby face paid off. I felt it was a bit odd since their age difference was a lot for me already, but well, that was just me.
About two years later, I was at home on holidays and got a phone call around 4 am. It turned out to be my older friend sobbing uncontrollably (This time she was already married with a baby). I asked what the problem was and she said it was her husband who has been on a beating rampage and asked her to leave his house. I’m not sure I remembered what caused the fight between them that night but I remembered her talking about other painful days. There was a day she replied hubby sarcastically in the presence of his friends and she got punched several times including on her preggy stomach. It took the intervention of his friends to stop. I told her to inform her family but she said it would be a total waste of time as they would most likely reprimand her and send her back home immediately. Now what I’ve recounted are a series of emotional abuse starting right before marriage. How they are faring now I really don’t know as I’ve since lost contact but this story would serve as the basis of today’s discussion.
Why is abuse of women so prevalent in homes? Is it because we are considered to be the ‘weaker’ sex, or because we probably earn less than their spouses or because we are conditioned through socialization to accept this less dignifying form of control? Global estimates published by WHO indicates that about 1 in 3 (35%) of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime (violence against women article). In the context of this article, abuse comes in various forms ranging from physical, emotional, financial to sexual.
While I can to an extent, debase the notion of women being weaker or poor as the main causes of abuse, I would like to expand on improper or faulty socialization process as the main proponent or catalyst of abuse in homes. There is a saying that goes thus; You can’t give what you don’t have. When a young man grows up in a warm home filled with love and lots of daughters, it’s very unlikely that such a boy would grow to become a crass and unrefined man. In the same vein, a woman who grew up in an abusive home is less likely to reject it later in adult life (there are a few exceptions to these observations). Those women are more likely to preach patience and silence as the only solution because they believe every woman has a share of it, it’s the degree that differs. As my adorable sister says, a mouth closed is a destiny closed and I agree with her. Isn’t it true that a problem shared is a problem half solved? Why then should we keep silent?
The best of examples in this world never laid his hands on any of his wives and so can be said of all the Prophets of Allah. No report has been given about them practicing this anomaly and I’m pretty sure that If they did, our men would be glad to flaunt it. I maintain that no Man has the right from Allah or the Constitution of the country to commit assault against his wife. Some women may fall in the category of my “older friend” who thinks her family won’t be of any help and may even worsen her condition (It is really sad and another example of a faulty upbringing). To this, I’ll say seek help outside the family or better still, if you can, get your mind empowered and make the bold step. Abuse should never be tolerated even at the introduction level. It gradually drains one’s self-esteem, wit, charm, physiological and psychological well being. Some may not be alive to tell the story. Abuse against mothers also has a direct negative impact on the children. While some daughters passively accept it, a few others become unnecessarily defensive and violent.
The first step we need to take as women are empowering our minds through education. The Quran and the examples of our beloved Prophet (SAW) have provided all that we need. Secondly, we should try to empower ourselves financially. Acquiring a skill that can be used if needed in future is the minimum requirement here. Thirdly, we need to speak up or better still grow leaders that would enact and enforce laws that would prevent abuse from happening in the first place. Punishment for offenders should also be commensurate with this long-term effect of the offence. Lastly, we need to love ourselves. An impoverished soul would yield nothing.
Stay positive, it would only get better!!!