Gender Forum With Ruth Butaumocho
Last week, a local tabloid ran with a front page picture of two women involved in nasty fight over a man somewhere in the informal settlement of Hopley, in Harare.
The two, unfazed by the growing crowd of cheerers across sexes, literally tore into each other. With the help of other females, the woman who was accused of snatching someone’s husband was stripped naked in broad daylight.
This was much to the enjoyment of fellow women as she scampered for cover.
The unidentified woman joins the list of others who have been abused by other females for different reasons.
She has a better narrative to share on the impact of violence when it is being perpetrated by one of your own.
Over the years, several organisations and activists involved in fighting gender-based violence have been programming gender-based violence around men, long considered to be responsible for violence and all forms of abuse.
It is indeed true and supported by research that the aggressive nature of men has seen a large proportion of them abusing women for various reasons.
With patriarchy playing a pivotal role on relations between men and women, abuse is actually the norm in some nations, Zimbabwe included.
Men have also been perpetuating all forms of abuse, with research pointing to an increase of the male populace who are abusing women.
Statistics from the Zimbabwe Republic Police indicate that from 2012 to the first quarter of 2014, a total number of 3 571 adult women and 7 411 female juveniles were raped.
While a lot of progress has been recorded in reducing cases of gender-based violence perpetuated by men, little has been done to curb violence perpetrated by women on other women.
Violence by women on other women is a scourge that is prevalent in our midst and has not been given attention despite its long-term consequences and the challenges it presents in pushing the gender -based violence agenda.
Like men, women also stand accused of perpetuating violence within their different circles.
It is known that women rarely get along with each other whether it’s at work, home and in the community unless they are fighting a common cause.
Relationships between daughters and mothers-in-law and other female members within the lineage have always been battlefields, characterised by back-biting, vitriolic attacks and sometimes physical fights.
One would not be wrong to conclude that there is no love between the sisters.
The love-hate relationship that exists between women shows that the majority of women are not in solidarity with the nation’s message of pushing the “no violence agenda”.
Far from being amicable, battles that women wage among themselves are calculated, cunning and dangerous to say the least, and in some instances leading to violence like what transpired in Hopley last week.
Instead of protecting the hapless woman from the vicious attack from her rival, the group of women present used her attack as an opportunity to hit back at her and teach her a lesson for snatching somebody’s husband.
They were actually hitting her for their own self-satisfaction and to nurse their own egos, probably from previous episodes where they were also cheated on.
And when men witness such dismal failure by women to speak with one voice and believe in each other, they quickly come in between to further fuel disharmony.
During the stripping of the lady at the Fourth Street bus terminus by the touts a few months ago, some sisters were actually heard cheering on the touts, arguing that she got what she deserved for parading herself “shamelessly”.
And all these forms of violence and abuse are happening in spite of women’s economic advancement, educational qualifications, technological innovation and other achievements.