Gender violence, spread of HIV and Aids


I recently made a police report concerning a young Mhondoro girl who was being denied food and access to medical services by her “husband”.

This girl had been forced to leave school (she was not pregnant) and eloped with the boyfriend who does odd jobs in the construction industry.

The bloodstained clothes were evidence of the brutal beating she had received that morning from her husband.

Neighbours claim that they had on many occasions saved the girl from hunger by giving her leftovers, a situation that had become talk of my neighbourhood.

The girl, who is now 18, is sadly pregnant and needs to register for antenatal classes with a maternity clinic so that she delivers her baby safely.

Antenatal clinics also screen pregnant mothers for HIV so that efforts to avoid parent to child transmission of HIV is avoided through administration of nevirapine during child delivery.

I however discovered that the girl was actually discharging white stuff from her reproductive organ, a matter that incensed the husband.

“This man beats me saying I have a sexually transmitted illness (STI) and yet he is the only man I have ever slept with. He leaves me home with nothing and goes away the whole day only to return in the wee hours of the following morning,” she said.

Mabelreign Police Station promptly took action as soon as I arrived with the girl at the station. The husband was summoned.

He looked frightened as he was led to the charge office.

When asked why he was beating his wife he accused her of exaggerating events saying one of his relatives was fuelling the situation by spreading falsehoods.

He became so defensive and it soon became evident that he did not have enough money to maintain his wife and so his aim was to frustrate her so that she goes back to the village where she lived with her elder sister.

“I am an orphan and my sister is married. He came to the village and convinced my family that he would marry me but this is what he is doing to me. I never used to have that white discharge but now he accuses me of having brought an STI. He does not want to give me money for food and medication. So what should I do?”

This is a clear example of a man who infected a virgin with an STI and most probably HIV and now there is re-infection taking place because the man gets treated for the ailment but never takes his wife for treatment.

He now describes the disease as “chirwere chevakadzi” (women’s disease) and yet he is the one who actually brought it into the marital bed.

There is a general assumption that when a man reaches adulthood, and whether or not he is gainfully employed, he should marry and have children.

This has created so much pressure on women who are in most instances not gainfully employed and solely dependent on the spouse.

But the question is: How is such a man going to raise a family when he has nothing?

Is marriage all about just getting a woman into a home and start reproducing?

How will you feed the children without an income?

And what about the medical expenses that come along with child bearing?

“He says I must submit to him as said in the Bible.

He says this after he has beaten me and raped me at times. Last time I saw open sores on his genitals and he went on and ravaged me. I don’t know what to do.”

Submitting to your husband doesn’t mean that you have become his slave. It means recognising his role and putting him first. After all, I believe this is the example Christ has set forth for us; to submit to Him and recognising who He is.

So, in God’s plan, the husband is to dedicate himself to his wife and do well for her; and, by submitting to him, she is to allow her husband to do good for her. But what do you do when the opposite happens?

Recently, Prophet Uebert Angel of Spirit Embassy explained at a church service how churches have skirted such domestic issues and yet these are what were affecting many women and girls today.

“If a man proposes to you, you must first ask him what he does and whether he is capable of looking after you. If the wife is the one that has taken over the man’s role of supplying income for the home then what kind of a man are you?

“Bvunza kuti anoshanda here uye anoshanda kupi? Unofa nenzara. Munovhunzawo kuti mune mari here im? Murambe kana asina basa…Mukadzi haabike ndimi.

(Women should be empowered to ask whether the man who wants to marry has money or a job for her upkeep. Say no to a proposal coming from a loafer.)

Prophet Angel says this is a Biblical requirement because Adam was given a job to do (to tend the Garden of Eden) before Eve was created.

“If your wife is the breadwinner of the family, you should not call yourself a man. She is the ‘man’ of the house. These are issues most churches do not address but these issues are explicitly written down in the Bible.”

Violence against women and girls is a global problem and like most other countries, there is a strong relationship between the spread of sexually transmitted diseases that include HIV and Aids and even a stronger correlation between poverty and domestic violence.

Poverty forces women and children to stay in violent relationships where they are subjected to rape and HIV infection by their partners.

In a marriage, women are not supposed to refuse husband sex.

Asking your husband to use protection invites severe rebuke and violence.

Biblical roles in marriage seem to be poorly understood even among Christians who are well taught in the Bible, and this includes husbands.

It is a godly instruction for husbands to be devoted to their wives, provide the right atmosphere for them to grow in Christian womanhood, and shelter them from those things that would harm them or be too strenuous for them.

The church has a pivotal role to play in sex education and the youth should delay intimate relationships until they are empowered economically and academically.

The cultural mentality that men are bosses should be scrapped because it is a fact that many women are breadwinners.

So what is the man’s role in a marriage if a woman has taken over? Food for thought isn’t it?