Zimbabwe: *Flower

Zimbabwe: *Flower

Date: May 19, 2016
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My name is Flower* and I met Gender Links on the 23rd of September 2013 during the entrepreneurship training programme. I received pamphlets on gender based violence and I went through the pamphlets and it occurred to me that my husband Mharadzi was taking advantage of my dependence status to abuse me. I became aware of my rights as a woman and how to protect myself from any form of abuse.

I attended two courses and I failed to attend the third course because it coincided with my pregnancy which was due. However, the two courses helped me to discover myself and empowered me to be a better person. During the entrepreneurship training I collected pamphlets on gender based violence and I gave them to my husband. Those pamphlets acted as my protection order because he briefly stopped insulting or assaulting me. I also noticed that some of my husband’s actions were a result of ignorance because he later on picked emotional abuse as a replacement to the physical abuse. This was the major obstacle that was preventing me from applying the skills I acquired to start a business or end the prolonged violence.

I was not involved in any business before the training and I was relying on my husband for survival. The situation was exposing me to gender based violence and I was belittled by everyone. During my training I was referred to Musasa but I found their conditions unfavourable and I decided to fight for myself and my rights. I started doing small businesses to earn money for survival. I managed to survive from the little honorariums I was receiving after attending workshops. I then discovered how great I was and I finally decided to leave my abusive husband to start a violent free life. I left him because I could not stand abuse and at the same time feeding my abuser. I became an independent and powerful woman. People in my community admired the step I took to say NO to gender based violence and they started frequenting my house for advice on businesses and marital issues. I always refer to my notes to help them.

Spending time doing productive work helped me to stay away from my husband’s relatives who used to insult me and encouraged my husband to continue his abusive behaviour. The changes that took place in my life brought happiness. I later met my current husband and we are in into business together because I cannot rely on him for survival. I realised having my own source of income will reduce the levels of gender based violence in my home.

Before I met Gender Links I was a destitute due to lack of income. The situation was exacerbated by low educational level because I ended my education in form three. I was relying on my husband for support and maintenance, who was also the perpetrator of violence on me. The situation made me vulnerable and my husband always got away with his violent behaviour because I had restricted options.

The violent environment that I was exposed to by my husband caused me to be a reserved person and I was living in isolation because I was not able to interact or socialise with others. I was not able to share ideas and exchange important information that was supposed to be the cornerstone of my livelihood and I was caught up in a web of ignorance. My failure to get new ideas from other people made me vulnerable and I was not able to fight for my rights. Lack of knowledge on my rights as a woman was like a physical ailment that restricted my capabilities. Gender Links taught me how to come up with an effective business plan that will produce desired or intended results.  I successfully implemented what I learnt and I started a small business selling packed snacks.