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South Africa

Zimbabwe: 'Bride Price No Justification for Wife Abuse'

A gender activist has called on some Zimbabwean men to stop using lobola payment as justification to abuse their wives.

Padare Men's Forum programmes officer, Paul Vingi made the call at an anti-gender-based violence programme in Harare this past week.

The event, also attended by some Zimbabwean MPs and the church, was held as part of the organisation's activities to mark the on-going 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence.

Zimbabwean culture places an obligation on men to pay bride price for their wives whose families sometimes demand huge amounts of money and other material gifts.

The customary payments have often been described by some as "buying" a spouse, something that creates a male entitlement mentality on their women.

This has been cited as some of the reasons why some men often assume overbearing control over their wives, sometimes resorting to physical methods to enforce loyalty.

However, Vingi felt lobola payment was still not a compelling reason for men to lift up their hands in attempts to discipline their wives.

"Often times we hear that some men are abusing their wives arguing that they paid lobola for them.

"Lobola is not meant to give men the green light to abuse women. It is wrong to hold on to that belief.

"It is our responsibility as men to pay lobola, not to justify beating our spouses," Vingi said.

He added: "Some have not even paid lobola and with such people, you still find them at the forefront of abusing their women.

"The responsibility is for us as men to say we need to do the right thing. We need to stop abusing women."

At the event, a female participant who identified herself as Amai Murambinda from Johanne Masowe denomination said domestic violence thrived in cases where one of the parties failed to live up to their expected responsibilities.

"According to the bible, men ought to fend for their families. We want to see our kids going to school. We want to see food on the table.

"We all have responsibilities. I wake up early in the morning to warm some water for my husband and prepare him for work. After that I still have to do some chores at home.

"These are my responsibilities. But, when it comes to my man, he must also perform his part. Otherwise there will be fights," she said.

Padare national chairperson, Jona Gokova implored men to speak out if they were also being abused by women.

Gokova said Padare Men's Forum will assist victims of gender based violence as per one of its founding principles.

According to the November 2019 United Nations Women data, it is estimated that at least 35 percent of women globally have suffered either physical and or sexual intimate partner violence or sexual violence by non-partner at some point in their lives.

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