NO MORE CUSTOMARY TEARS- I WANT TO BE MYSELF AND I HAVE CHOSEN TO BE ME.
Gladys was born in a family of six. she was the second last born child. Gladys went to the primary school, passed and went to a high school. since her younger brother was yet to go to school together with her late sister's daughter, Gladys could not go to college. towards the end of 1998, she got married to a man who accepted her with a two months pregnancy. At the beginning, life was good, and Gladys had her other two sons without much trouble. life changed when her husband needed a third child. he plainly told her that the first child wasn't his and so he needed a child of his own. since Then was not allowed to go anywhere, one day it happened that her FAMILY PLANNING pills were all finished and that is when her husband forced to have sex with her. she conceived and had a son. her husband could not take her to the hospital to deliver when she was due. he argued that, that was the work of women. and since her husband could not allow people in the home, Gladys delivered in the house alone. she thanks God that the baby was OK, but she bled too much. since was was just home, she nursed herself and her baby. when the baby was two year, her husband agreed that she goes to a teacher training college. even in college, Glady's husband could go and pick quarrels with her in front of her colleagues. To make matters worse, he pulled out before she completed college. she got some good Samaritans who paid examination fees for her. when she came home, she was beat up to confess the number of boyfriends she had in college. her husband was told that taking a women to college is giving her away to other men.he was convinced and withdrew all his support. After college examinations, Gladys got some invitations from three schools to go and teach. her husband found the books she had collected from one of the school and wanted to burn them. he threw them away and told his son to take them to the school. Glady's friends from that school were afraid to visit her.she was told to stay in the house and ensure there is enough food for the husband and his team. her husband works as a carpenter.After sometime, her husband brought home a bustard child, older than the kids in the house. Glady's husband beat her daily alleging that she wants to kill her husband together with her husband's daughter. one day, he took a very big piece of wood from the fire and hit her. Gladys put her hand on the head and the wood hit her so hard that she got injured. she bled so much, and went to a nearby clinic where she had four stitches. as if this was not enough, after harvesting her maize and beans, her husband took the proceeds from the farm and sold everything without giving her a single shilling.in 2011, Gladys husband quarreled the whole day and the whole night. At night he took a panga and walked with it in the house threatening to kill her. He told her to move out of their matrimonial bed,and sleep on the floor. when she moved on the floor of the bedroom, her husband demanded that she takes the 2 year old daughter to sleep with her husband's daughter. she refused and held her daughter on her chest. she moved and went to sit on the couch in in the living room. her husband rotated several times near her and eventually locked himself in the bedroom. on realizing that things were bad. Gladys went away with her three children to her mother's place. her husband apologized and they went back. in her house things were even more complicated, her husband locked her out since they had harvested a lot of maize and beans-which Gladys helped with the weeding. so her husband did not want her to touch anything.
In September 2012, Glady's recalls the toughest decision she had to make.one day, after cooking lunch, her husband asked her to take away their 1st born child whom he alleged was not his. he picked the boy's clothes and books and told Gladys to take him to his father. This boy was so traumatized that he could not eat. Gladys called him and asked him to go to his grandmother's place. the boy walked slowly and took four hours to reach his grandmother's place-a 30 minute walk distance.
Back at home, Glady's husband became so wild and did not want her to go out of the house, or talk to anybody, leave alone her family since he had confiscated her phone.her husband's daughter faked crying , reported that Gladys had abused her and when the father came, he beat up Gladys again. Gladys recalls these questions coming to her...how could her husband not allow her to teach given that she was a trained and qualified teacher? how could her husband ask her to send away her son, and yet he agreed to marry her even when she was 2 month pregnant? how could her husband be beating her everyday when she had not done anything/ how could her husband deny her access to her own phone? how could she continue to stay with a man like her husband who had reduced her life to that of a maid in the house?who is this man that I am staying with. And for fear of her safety. Gladys went to a nearby calling booth and called her mom, informing her that she was moving out because the situation was terrible. her mother agreed. she went to a salon, and when she came back, her husband asked her to undo her hair or go back to the salon and stay there. and for fear of being beaten, she decided to walk away empty handed, in sandals to her mother's place.she said she persevered all along because of her kids and hoped for things to change for better, but it was the opposite. she was assisted by women from our group and went to report the matter to center that addresses violence against women issues. we also linked her up to an institution. When i asked Gladys what she wants in life, she said she is deciding to move on, to be herself, the loving, hardworking and visionary girl she was 12 years ago. She is looking for a teaching job to earn a living so that she can educate her son, and support her other children.she is planning to start a group to sensitize women about customary threats that affect women and hinder them to realize their full potential. she realizes that safe space is important for women and she intents to work with many women in her community to support those suffering, and advocate for the end to violence against women.
Listening to a 12 year old experience left me with a very heavy heart! i imagined the emotional stress, the psychological torture, the social stigma, and the inhumane treatment and could not bear this. when i asked Gladys what she did whenever her husband beat her up, she said that her husband used their family money to silence the local administrators and so they could not take any action against him at the grass root. the chief's and assistant chiefs received bribes from her husband and could not hear her out.she had asked her uncle who visited them but immediately he left, her husband repeated the same old actions. Two days later, he beat her up again. I also imagine the trauma the little boy is going through and the many unanswered questions about how children become victims of decisions we make as adults, and how they suffer with their mothers.
A lot is left to desire whether the local administration is competent in overcoming petty bribes and to treat inhumane treatment of women as a matter of urgency, human rights that requires justices. this makes me dream that in the new dispensation of our country we may have fora that give opportunity for the local administration to be sensitized on matters of gender based violence, and be held accountable for the same in their areas. i dream that one day, we will have women representatives in counties so that matters affecting women and children are treated with the seriousness they deserve.i envision the continuous integration of gender issues in police administration work since many cases like Gladys' were given no attention, instead, she was treated as the offender and given a free bond to be reporting to the OCPD that she ran away when her husband threatened to kill her. this is just one case in a million, but i hope the listening world leaders can look at the following action lines;
-constitutional protection of women who marry through customary law
-religious support of women suffering violence
-integration of gender issues in police administration
-training of local leaders on human and women rights so that they can be held accountable when they are violated in their areas of jurisdiction
-advocacy for women empowerment and motivating communities to encourage their trained people to take up responsibilities to improve thee economic base of the families
- protection of children in troubled families through children's departments to ensure they have their rights
-increase centers and women support to rehabilitate women and children who have suffered violence the the hands of people they know.
-fund local support groups so that the groups can have activities with the women victims of violence.
-ensure the perpetrators face the full force of the law
-individual woman' role to stop the violence before it becomes complicated
-women be informed of the need to seek the help of the relevant offices to ensure that a situations is corrected early enough and if not helped then one has to go to the next office until a solutions is found.
-educate husbands to appreciate women who can bring into their homes an extra income
-husbands to love their wives and safeguard their children even if they have taken care of ethem for a day of tenty years because day to a child is always
-husbands give children their basic rights
I have realized that domestic violence which is emotional, psychological, physical, social, economical, and spiritual has far reaching implications to families. it even become more complicated where traditional laws are used to resolved issues The worst of all is the dehumanizing effect it has to women and children who become victims. Time for action is now, and we have the means and ways to inform and influence world leaders to stand by us- a community committed to ending violence against women.