Men are still out of hand 

Men are still out of hand

In the Financial Gazette opinion piece Letter From America, “Feminists getting out of hand,” 23-29 March 2006, Ken Mufuka argued against a proposed bill targeting domestic violence in Zimbabwe.

His article does not discuss the content of the bill, its merits or shortcomings, or the fact that the proposed legislation was first drafted over seven years ago—a clear indication that the male-dominated legislature does not take domestic violence seriously.

Instead, Mufuka decries “Western imposed” feminism, because, he argues, within African culture there are two simple rules that prevent domestic abuse from happening altogether.

In short, Mufuka says, women should maintain a specific order: Love, Marriage, Sex. No marriage without love, and no sex before marriage. Women, he emphasises need to remember this rule and not take things out of turn, particularly by having sex before marriage. And it’s the women specifically who must remember this because, as Mufuka himself paraphrases from German religious reformer Martin Luther, “boys are by nature promiscuous.” By inference, men cannot control their sex drive, and therefore it’s up to women to insist that all relationships follow the “right” order.

Secondly, Mufuka also argues that domestic violence doesn’t really happen, because African marriage customs are set up in a way that would prevent it. Because a man pays lobola for his new wife, and because the marriage is done with the approval of the man’s family, and because, Mufuka argues, the lobola is paid by the husband’s Sekuru, the new husband’s maternal uncle, no husband would ever dream of striking his wife, because of the affront that would be to his uncle. In reading this argument, it’s hard not to wonder if perhaps if the man only risked hurting his wife, he wouldn’t be too concerned. But because by extension another man—his uncle—would be dishonoured, the man suddenly has a reason not to beat his wife.

Mufuka’s argument is both naïve and dangerous. It ignores the basic reality within which Zimbabwean women live. The statistics about domestic violence in Zimbabwe are sobering—even more so when one considers the high incidence of domestic violence being unreported, and the problem is on-going. In 1998, domestic violence accounted for over 60% of the murder cases tried before the Harare High Court. A survey conducted by Musasa Project in 1996 found that one in three women are living in an abusive relationship.

Domestic violence is not about women resisting pre-marital sex, or insisting on the “proper” order of events. It’s about male power and domination. Legislation will not miraculously stop men from beating their wives. But it’s a start. At the very least it would recognise the pervasiveness of the problem, rather than denying that it even exists.

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Comment when you say it like that it makes a lot of sense

Wed Apr 5, 2006 2:18 pm MST by bob stevens

Comment when you say it like that it makes a lot of sense

Wed Apr 5, 2006 1:53 pm MST by bob stevens

Comment I know I'm off topic but today is the best day as she has said

Mon Apr 3, 2006 3:45 pm MST by tim smith

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