By Kate Henshaw
I was getting ready for an event when I received a call from a friend one evening. She sounded desperate. Her first line to me was: “Kate, sorry to disturb you but I know you are involved with a charity that handles this sort of thing”. I asked what the matter was, and she replied, “It’s a friend of mine o, her husband wanted to kill her.
He beat her up around 2am, stripped her naked and dragged her towards a canal to drown her. She held on to a NEPA pole, naked and started to scream for neighbours in the estate where they lived to come to her rescue. That was how she was saved from sudden death”. I thought I had heard it all. I gave her the number for Project Alert on Violence against Women and Children, and asked her to give them a call.
What was the reason for this battery and need to kill the woman in question? She found out that her husband was carrying on with different women and decided to confront him. She suggested they take a break for him to make up his mind about what he really wanted in their marriage. This was just after a year of marital ‘bliss’. She was not also employed as he had told her not to work and they had a son together.
“For this reason shall a man leave his father and mother and cling unto his wife and the two shall become one flesh”. For this reason shall a man love his wife like Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her. For this reason, shall a woman submit to her husband and obey him, but I quickly added not to the point of taking her life! You do not beat someone you are stronger than. Some men would argue that the woman does not know her place; that her tongue is sharp and she deserves to be put down.
Pray tell, where is the woman’s place? In the kitchen, in the hospital or on the bed where she is just there to fulfil carnal desires? Definitely not in this day and age where many have broken the glass ceiling, are world leaders and heads of institutions doing great work and at the same time supporting their men.
A similar case occurred just a few years ago, which involved a colleague of mine, a male actor (name withheld), who decided to pitch his tent with another woman in another country. He abandoned his home and did not see the need to inform his wife in Nigeria that he was no longer interested in their union. After many months he came home and the best he could do was to grab her by the ankles, while his brother grabbed the wife’s hands and they proceeded to attempt to do away with her by trying to drown her. Her only offence was that she questioned his neglect of her and the children. What then was the reason for the vows they took when they got married? If he was no more desirous of being with her, he was free to leave instead of keeping her as a spare. Where has this warped sense of reasoning come from that it is ok to ‘chastise’ a woman? I am sure that if these women in question were as equally well built as the men, the need to ‘chastise’ would not arise so quickly.
I went to watch the V-Monologues at the Muson Centre last weekend. A stage play put up to bring to the fore the many atrocities committed against women folk especially in Nigeria. I had been a part of the cast for a few years now but could not make it this year. The two shows were filled to capacity, filled with both male and female. Monologues on early child-girl marriage, wife battery, rape, violation of a young girl by a close male relative, female circumcision, widowhood and women who denigrated other women were acted out.
It elicited varying emotions from the audience and I dare say that not a few women present had gone through one situation or the other. It struck a chord in me and a particular monologue resonated. It went like this: THE WOMAN DIES IN ALL WHO KEEP SILENT IN THE FACE OF TYRANNY, THE WOMAN DIES IN SHE WHOSE LEGS ARE FORCED OPEN, WHO IS FORCIBILY TAKEN AT GUN POINT, BY BRUTE STRENGTH, THROUGH FORCE OF BLOWS BY ONE MAN, OR TWO, OR THREE, OR FOUR. THE WOMAN DIES NOT BECAUSE OF THE TEARS BUT BECAUSE OF THE SILENCE; THE REFUSAL TO STAND UP AND SHOUT AND SAY “NO MORE”! THE WOMAN DIES IN ALL WHO HAVE NO CHOICES AND SEEK NONE, IN SHE WHO CANNOT CHOOSE HER OWN HUSBAND, WHO IS FORCIBILY CIRCUMCISED, TIED DOWN AND CUT UP, PUT DOWN AND SHUT UP, WHO CANNOT TAKE A STANCE AND SAY “NO MORE”. Let all women arise and scream, NO MORE!