Natili was a young girl from a village in Northern Tanzania. A few years into her childhood she was circumcised and like many girls from her village married off. This is the trend known to many young girls among the pastoralist communities especially the Maasai. These small girls do not choose who to marry and where to go. The parents have the big say in this. This is usually dictated by the fathers. Mothers cannot make ultimate decisions on the marriages of their children.
In the case of Natili her father died when she was young and therefore someone had to assume the role of the father in decision making for her family and not necessarily a relative but one who is picked or chosen to do so. This is the family connector or disconnect. A connector will help build bridges for the family he represents while disconnect will do exactly the opposite.
The man or disconnect made decisions for Natili and her family. He made sure that he dictated what was to be done. He forced Natili into an early marriage, several miles away from home. She became a third wife.
The relationship between the three women was very poor. The first wife despised Natili. She complained a lot to the husband about her. The husband loved the first wife and supported anything she said no matter how bad it sounded.
Many years passed by without communication between Natili and her mother. Neither of them had phones to communicate. She got children and life seemed normal.
In a turn of events, one day her husband went out to nearby bushes cut some thin branches from some type of shrub (whippy like sticks). Went back home and gave Natili a terrible beating. Not caring where he hit her. She cried from the pain being inflicted on her. Pleaded with the husband to stop beating her but her voice went with the wind. The whippy sticks kept cutting her skin like sharp knives. The wounds on her breasts were terrible yet she was at the time breastfeeding a seven months old baby. A few days later, puss started forming on her skin and had a fever. She decided to go back home to her mother. With the help of a Samaritan, she managed to escape .
Natili arrived home. This was quite unexpected by the mother. Tears of joy rolled down her chicks on seeing her daughter. She made tea and they talked as they drank. Natili then narrated what happened and exposed the terrible wounds caused by the beating.
Her mother could not contain her herself, she cried. They both kept quiet about it. This was never reported to the police for action to be taken. Neither did they seek help from anywhere else. Other women sympathized but could not speak about it openly.
After learning of Natili’s problem, I decided to look for her in order to help her. She was nowhere near to be found. The husband had followed her and took her back with him.
Many women like Natili continue suffering silently due to male supremacy and poor decisions made by community members on issues of girls. Most of them are not taken to hospital. Instead, the man or husband slaughters a ram. Cooks the meat and the fat from the meat is given to the wounded woman to drink. This is believed to treat and appease her if she died.
This is one among many unreported cases. Some die while others remain with marks that remain to tell the story of many suffering women. One would easily mistake them for misplaced tattoos.
I thought of the laws of my country Tanzania. The contravening and curtailed laws that do not support the girl or woman, especially the marriage Act. Women suffer from low self-esteem, domestic violence and insecurity. I hope to raise my voice and build a network across the country to help stop the suffering of women in my country. To lead them out of fear, strengthen them to lead their own better destiny. Am training women and girls on life skills, reproductive health and help them be economically empowered. I have organized trainings for men and warriors (Moran) on negative cultural practices avoidance that hamper the advancement of women and girls. I call for my country Tanzania to amend the marriage Act.
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