Zimbabwe: Born in a polygamous family ruined my future

Date: October 10, 2019
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I am a 41 year old divorcee. I was born in a polygamous family and that contributed to the ruinous life that I am living. My late mother was the second to be married to my late father who already had lots of other children from his many wives. My late father did not allow his many wives to be gainfully employed. He said that they would rather do incoming generating projects at home than be employed by someone else. My late father was very possessive and he would not tolerate any man to be seen milling around any of his wives. I later discovered that some religious beliefs which were deep-rooted in him might have been the cause. My late father was the only one in the family who was gainfully employed. 

I dropped out of school at an early age because my late father had found a husband for me. I was only 16 years old when I was forced into marriage. After only two years in marriage, my late husband, Zhou*, started abusing me. He worked as a carpenter at a local company. He would scorn me and found some joy in labelling me as a baby making machine without any other use. He even insulted my father for being greedy to marry off a teenager. He further said that I was from a poverty stricken family and that was why my parents married me off because they could not feed us all. I was humiliated to be told such words whenever we had an argument with Zhou*. I returned to my parents’ place when he started physically assaulting me. I took my son with me to my place. 

After the death of my mother, life became very unbearable at my father’s place. I finally remarried to a widower, Phiri*, who had two children. I treated his children fairly the same as my own. I had two more children with Phiri*. He was a loving and caring husband whenever he was not drunk but all that changed when he was under the influence of alcohol. He would throw anything at anyone who stood in his way. He was very rude and violent to his family and his friends as well. Many times Phiri* would come home with a battered face after being involved in some unnecessary scuffles.  

Early this year my family was attacked by the cholera outbreak and had to seek treatment at the nearest clinic. Unfortunately my eldest son and Phiri*’s eldest child from his first marriage succumbed to the disease. After the children’s burial, Phiri* accused me of being responsible for the children’s deaths. He said that I should have made certain that the family lived in a healthy environment as the mother of the house. He started physically assaulting me regularly cursing me with the death of his son. I finally left him and am now working at a local tomato and potato farm whilst looking after my children. I left him with his child from his first marriage. He often begs me to reconsider my decision so that I move back to him but am no longer interested. I have suffered much especially from the beatings and the accusations that he hurled at me.