Gender-based violence, simply defined, is violence directed at a man or woman because of his or her sex or socially constructed gender roles.
This does not necessarily refer to violence by one to the other sex, but can also be between people of the same sex.
For example, a woman may attack another woman because the latter may be involved romantically with the earlier’s husband or a man attacking another man because the only way to gain access to his target is by eliminating the stronger obstacle, in this case, the usually perceived physically superior male person.
A few things are certain, though, in this whole situation:
Reasons for gender-based violence are very diverse
Gender-based violence has broken gender barriers
Women are as much perpetrators as men of gender-based violence
All official statistics, even from the Zimbabwe National Statistical Agency (Zimstats) are not reliable because of various reasons
Feminist activitism has been commercialised
Patriarchy is both biblical and traditional and will have a permanent place in our lives.
The commercialisation of gender issues and exaggeration of statistics by feminists cannot be overemphasised.
This has created a sustained pattern of negative stereotyping about men through a well-funded system that seeks to spread feminist propaganda in the name of gender activism.
Some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have been found implicit of fuelling the rift between males and females by accepting and promoting the dictates of the donor community.
I do not blame donors entirely because in most instances, projects are presented to them for funding, and knowing what areas donors are interested in, NGOs design projects that can easily attract the donor’s attention and purse.
The result is anyone’s guess, fabricated, exaggerated and stage–managed presentations justifying how funds were used in so-called research by feminists posing as professional experts on these areas of concern.
Feminist propaganda has always portrayed the man as responsible for all gender-based violence and the woman as being always on the receiving end of this violence and abuse.
I strongly disagree as evidence on the ground and shown by empirical studies indicates otherwise. Can someone do the nation a favour by revealing how many of all families in Zimbabwe are affected by violence and how many can come out in the open to confess?
Do the numbers of affected families justify the existence of so many feminist organisations? Do we define “gender” correctly?
There is no denying gender-based violence is there and hurting communities, families and marriages and needs to be curbed by all possible means.
There is serious need to understand and appreciate that violence can also be mutual in nature, and, both males and females can be responsible for violence in homes, marriages and communities.
Examples of female perpetrators’ involvement include the axing to death of one Vengai Mabika in his sleep by wife Linda Sengwe and various other cases where men have been murdered and burnt in Chitungwiza a few months back.
It is worrisome and disturbing to note that every time, these women’s evil deeds are justified and reduced to self-defence or retaliation.
Talk of STIs, HIV and Aids, harassment, ridicule, psychological, verbal and emotional abuse, divorces, domestic violence and sexual abuse (the list is endless), feminist propaganda is quick to point a finger at the male partner.
The multi-million-dollar question therefore is: What is the role of women in violence and abuse? This can either be gender-based partner violence, domestic violence or whatever you may prefer calling it.
The answer to this question will help us establish why:
Women silently bless underage girl child marriages in Chikombedzi for example, all for a few bags of maize or sorghum and after kudzana/ukubuthwa (initiation rite)
Women claim to be on the receiving end of violence all the time as I believe no man would just walk into a house and start bashing his spouse or partner for no apparent reason
Whether we should be discussing numbers or solutions to curb gender-based violence
Whether men are also being abused in their communities and homes
Whether the law is addressing and curbing the problem of gender-based violence, domestic violence and other abuses.
Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development deputy minister Jessie Majome has attacked the patriarchical system at home, Thelma Chikwana (Daily News 2/4/11), Ropafadzo Mapimhidze (NewsDay 9/04/2011) and Godfrey Mtimba (Daily News 9/4/11) all have one thing in common.
They wrote articles which only fingered the man negatively in the light of sexual abuse and gender violence while falling short of also acknowledging men are now and have been victims of same abuses.
If we do not address this subject objectively, we risk neglecting another group of the abused who will end up as abusers in the future.
Violence and abuse have the same effects on people whether male or female.
One subject that has been raised and debated in the wrong context is that of equality.
Misconceptions, or rather misconceptualisation, of equality has greatly fuelled gender-based violence, particularly domestic violence.
Therefore it must be categorically stated, but has always been shot down, that equality only applies to equal opportunities for both sexes in professional and other working environments, and definitely and outrightly not at home.
Men and women can and will never be equal in marriage and home set-ups.
When a man marries, the woman joins the family as a wife to him and daughter or sister in-law to the immediate and extended family and will eventually be mother to their children, all socially constructed gender roles that the man or husband can never assume, to his or her family.
Lastly, Zimstats must be commended, if what I heard is true, for compiling a green book highlighting statistics on these areas although, as has always been admitted, these statistics are likely nowhere near the truth.
It has already been alluded to that negative stereotyping and cultural beliefs prevent men from telling the truth in order to jealously protect their image.
Temba Nzounhenda is national organising secretary of Varume Svinurai/Vukani Madoda Men’s Forum of Zimbabwe.
He writes in his personal capacity.