Zimbabwe: Harassed, humiliated and beaten in public

Date: October 10, 2019
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I was born in a family of seven children in Chiredzi, Masvingo Province. I only did primary education because of poverty after my father had passed on. I got into an early marriage and moved to Gweru but divorced after having three children. My husband, Jonisina*, and I were deeply in love but things suddenly changed when he started denying me my conjugal rights. A folded blanket or big pillow to mark a boundary when in bed would be put by Jonisina* and l was not allowed to cross the boundary. l was also not allowed to touch him when in the bedroom or to get close to him. Jonisina* would converse with his girlfriends during my presence. He would do all that to spite me.  

Jonisina* developed a wife battering attitude and I got beaten up nearly every weekend. My husband nicknamed himself as the famed world wrestling champion, John Cena. At one stage, he attacked me as if he was fighting against a man. He used a chair, booted feet and fists to attack me. I later woke up and realised that l was lying in a pool of blood. My children’s school headmistress and other teachers were in the room. Our matrimonial home was very close to the school. I was told that one of my children had run to alert the school authorities that Jonisina* was butchering me. The police came and arrested him but he returned a few hours later boasting that he had bribed the poor law enforcement agents to get his freedom. I nursed my wounds with Jonisina* having gone to stay at his girlfriends’ place. 

When he returned he continually insulted me using vulgar language in front of our children. At times, he would even threaten to kill me. Jonisina* boasted that he was to get married to a learned and beautiful lady. Jonisina* compared me to a witch who was after his downfall. It was painful to have such accusations thrown at me in front of our three children. He no longer bought any groceries for the family. I started to do some menial jobs in people’s houses and got paid either in cash or kind to feed, clothe and pay the children’s school fees. I turned out to be the laughing stock in the entire community. Some church leaders paid me numerous home visits for some counselling sessions after l stopped attending church services. At times, he would undress me in front of his friends or even church congregants. Jonisina* totally had no respect for me and would attack me verbally, physically or emotionally at any time or place.   

Jonisina* would go to his girlfriends’ place and return even after a couple of days. He would come home dressed in new clothes and boast that his working class girlfriends had bought them for him. He would even leave for his girlfriends place late into the night. He did not eat any meal that I prepared for him.  

Jonisina* finally kicked me out of our matrimonial home by throwing out all my clothes and other personal belongings. He took me to the bus terminus and ordered me to leave for my mothers place. I got to Gokwe Business Centre by midnight and had to be assisted by strangers because I had nowhere to put up since it was late. My maternal uncle called me that same night and begged me to return to Gweru. I returned to Gweru the following morning and was met at the bus terminus by my uncle who took me to his residence. However, I did not stay long in his home because his wife saw me as a burden to them.  

A close friend advised me to approach Msasa Shelter for help and advice. My case was reported to the law enforcement agents by Msasa Shelter officials. Jonisina* was summoned by the police. Our case was heard before a magistrate who gave an order that I had to stay in our matrimonial house together with our children. Jonisina*was ordered not to disturb our peace and not to even enter our matrimonial house but to reside at his girlfriends’ place. He occasionally visits but only ends by the gate where he would invite us into his car and exchange some greetings before he leaves. He neither buys groceries nor pays school fees for his children. When Jonisina*visits, he just flashes some money but does not even give some pocket money to any of the children. He recently persuaded me that we change the ownership of our house to our eldest son’s name but I refused after having got some advice from the local authority officials.