As I passed by my neighborhood on my way home after a hectic day at work, I heard a woman screaming loudly and pointing her fingers to a man while making utterances in one of the local languages(Luganda) commonly spoken in central Uganda that “Gwe mbwa gwe, kik kyolinawo?” [Translated as ‘You dog, what do you have to show?’]. I tried to pretend that this was totally non of my business but could not help stop by, when a group of people gathered to watch and listen to her hurling insults at a man, who I later discovered to be her husband.
The funniest bit is that they were married and even had children. The woman went ahead to scream at the top of her voice how fed-up she was and how she very much wanted a divorce. Not caring about who watched and listened. She accused the man of so many nasty things as the gathered crowd watched and listened ready to judge. Of course I was one of the self appointed judges because I was part of the crowd. But deep down, I wanted to be as fair as possible in my judgment. Amidst all this, I was so surprised by the man’s reaction. He did not say a single word despite the bitter words that his wife was ‘spitting’ at him. When she saw no reaction from the husband and heard the reaction from the ‘self appointed judges’ [Gathered crowd] that she was the problem, she decided to keep quiet. The man then said to her that, ‘All the people you think are sympathizing with you, are here to listen and laugh at us, we can sort this out calmly.’
When I heard what the man said, I didn’t know what to feel or think. I started wondering whether the woman’s reaction was the effect of “The battered woman syndrome” or she was genuinely having a problem with her husband, whatever the case, I never got an opportunity to find out the truth. On the other hand, I didn’t rule out the fact that she could be the quarrelsome kind of woman who just seeks for sympathy from others and fail to sort out issues calmly. From what I observed in the 5-10min saga I realized some few things:
• That sometimes men are violated and abused but because of the socio-cultural beliefs, they do not speak out and at the end of it all use their wives and children as scapegoats. And what do we call that? VIOLENCE AGAINST MEN (U-TURNs) to VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN!!
• In Africa, particularly Uganda, Women are the custodian’s of culture and values and they instill certain values in the ‘boy’ child which cannot easily change when he matures. For instance making statements like “Boys take care of themselves”, “Boys don’t cry”, “The kitchen is not a place for boys” etc. Most of you sisters know the effects of such statements !!!!…..Remember that words always turn into Action. We need to treat children, regardless of their sex as CHILDREN if we want to see change and leave in a violent free society. It all starts with us MOTHERS.