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The Observer, Uganda
Written by Akumu Patience 7th October 2009
It is not just peasants who are battered but Elite Women as well
MIFUMI, a women’s rights advocacy NGO, recently brought a petition challenging the beloved institution of bride price. The presents, they argued, while enriching the girl’s family, turn the girl into no more than a chattel in her husband’s home or perhaps, a thoughtless animal that deserves flogging once in a while.I eagerly wait to hear what the rather stoic and detached ladies and gentlemen of the bench in whom the fate of millions of senoritas across the country lies will come up with. But after all is said and done, it will not be necessary to waste court’s time with submissions, technicalities and procedure. There can only be one conclusion- Res ipsa loquitur. For you unlearned friends, this term means the facts would speak for themselves. There are thousands of women to whom fists and kicks are daily bread. You should not be fooled into thinking these are just illiterate peasants footing miles to MUFMI offices just to place their case. It could be that woman in that million dollar estate next to your sweet colonial style bungalow in Naguru. Joyce is one such woman. With a good job, lovely kids and a master’s degree from an international university most can only dream of going to, she is the envy of many. Her curvaceous body and luminous smile means she is perpetually warding off advances from the less fair sex. To top it all up, she has Eric - a rich man who has placed her in what is by all standards a lovely home. In addition, he keeps buying her all those little niceties that every woman wants.But Eric has one tiny winy flaw. He cannot help but discipline his woman once in a while. There is one particular incident that blew my mind though. That night when Joyce called me sounding really frantic, I practically flew over, of course taking along a more physically strong friend. Seeing Eric’s two brothers comfortably seated watching football as Eric rained strokes on her with his menacing leather belt as she cried out for help, has simply got to be the biggest shock of my life. They looked as if it was kid’s play time in the next room.Furious does not describe what I felt. They could not understand why I would be mad though, over something that was none of my business! Apparently it is Eric’s prerogative to batter his woman. He was the man, and she would have to listen to him no matter what. Now, I do not know what kind of low self esteem drives a person to think that physical violence makes them in any way better than others.They call the practice domestic violence, a term that only serves to compound the feeling that such an issue should be left within the confines of the home. What most of us ignore is the fact that the Joyces of this world; from that Joyce who was the Mathematics genius of your high school, to the dedicated peasant who toils in the hot sun just so her family can have a little something to eat, are affected by this domestic violence way beyond the boundaries of their homes. It may be hard for you to imagine, but digging with a twisted hand may be a little hard, and solving world arithmetic problems can be daunting if you are worried of the blow that awaits you at the end of the day. Violence against women is fast spiralling out of control. So next time as you muffle out the voices of your ever bickering neighbours and try to pretend that it is none of your business, think of the degradation women go through and what you can do to make their lives firstname.lastname@example.org
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