The other day, I learnt of a wife beating incident that left me confused and worried about the safety of women in some marriages.
A loafer of a husband comes home in the afternoon and is not happy with the lunch his wife has prepared. His wife, the breadwinner, is in the kitchen with a friend preparing doughnuts for sale.
Seeing the friend, the man calmly summons the wife into their house.
After an hour or so, the friend, who is still in the kitchen helping out with the doughnuts, gets tired of waiting and decides to go home, but she must first leave the basin of doughnuts in the house where to her shock, she finds her friend with a swollen face, bleeding.
The injured woman is just laughing, like she has lost her mind. She doesn’t recall what has left her in that state.
Knowing the husband and how he perpetually beats the wife, the friend has an idea of what happened to the poor woman. There is a high likelihood that she fainted during the beating, after all this is not the first time the battering has left her unconscious.
When the husband returns, he admits assaulting his wife out of anger and, as usual, apologises. This, he says, will never happen again, but it is just a matter of days before another nsima incident leads to another beating episode.
The next two or three days, the wife will cover her swollen face with a veil as she treats the wounds at home. She cannot go to a clinic because that move would put the husband in trouble with the police.
The woman’s friends, parents, neighbours and in-laws are aware of the man’s behaviour. They know just how severe and dangerous the beating can be. They have nursed the woman’s injuries at some point. They know this beating won’t stop anytime soon. But they encourage her to hold on to the man who doesn’t even have the sense of responsibility to fend for the family.
But what will happen when the woman’s body decides to give up one day? How will her family and community face a situation where she does not wake up from one of the husband-induced comas?
Then there is the shame that the woman must endure as she faces her children, family members as well as the community, after she has been beaten and bruised.
Wife battering might seem like a non-issue; a tired story and a normal occurrence that does not even raise eyebrows in our society, but we are nursing a big problem in our communities; a problem that seriously endangers the lives of women.
And for as long as women suffer in silence; for as long as communities accept wife battering as a normal challenge that women must endure in marriage, the vice will continue spreading its roots.