As the world gears up to mark the international women’s day on March 8th this year with the theme ‘Make It Happen’, it is disheartening to note that theissues women face both in private and in public are still popular.
Marie (not her real name) was on Friday beaten by husband Abu and dragged on the rocky grounds of Wilberforce in Freetown, Sierra Leone. According to Marie, this is not the first time she’s being beaten so mercilessly by her husband. It is a common practice and whenever Abu does what I will describe as his usual ritual, he will put curse and reign insults on any would be intervener. As a result of this, people in the community are afraid to openly confront Abu or even chastise him for his abuse of his wife. He openly bragged that he paid Marie’s bride price and that what he does to her is none of his neighbour’s business.
Sadly, Marie’s relatives are in the province and she’s still scared to leave her wife beater husband to go to her family because of the Ebola outbreak. ‘I can’t go now’, she said ‘I have to wait till our region is completely rid-off of Ebola. That’s the only thing keeping me here,’ she said.
However, due to her neighbour’s secret advice, Marie reported the matter to the police and it is being investigated.
Marie is not alone, most women in Sierra Leone suffer similar fate. In fact it is an open secret that most Sierra Leone husbands beat their wives. Quite recently, a local journalist started a Facebook discussion on a man in the heart of the country’s capital Freetown, who is renowned for beating and dragging his wife on rocky grounds at a place called Circular road.
Statistics show a very damning reports on the spate of domestic violence in Sierra Leone, particularly so in the western area including Freetown. In 2012, the western area reported a total of 1,923 domestic violence while in 2013 the number rises to 2,073. The highest in the entire country and over 95% committed by husbands against their wives. This excludes the provincial area of the country that hosts the majority of the population. Considering the fact that a good number of domestic violence is unreported, it displays a worrisome state of Sierra Leone’s women.
Even when domestic violence is reported, there’s very little hope that prosecution will follow knowing how the patriarchal system operates.
Nevertheless, the Family Support Unit of the Sierra Leone Police, the Gender ministry and other NGOs working on women’s issues are making effort to put an end to domestic violence. But the road is still long and rugged and there is need for more education while punishments for such barbaric abuse of women need to be severed. It is only through such efforts that we can actually see the end of women’s abuse actually happens.