An expose that dives well beneath the skin of the biggest of the unmentionables- domestic violence against African women
"I can't say I loved him because I didn't. I just liked him for what he had", says Asaandra. Like many poor young women in Africa, she sought out a relationship to survive. "He used to beat me up. He forced himself on me", she says. Thanks to a crackdown on abuse, her husband was arrested. But Asaandra was left with no way of supporting herself and her child. "The legal system is now changing to ensure it doesn't re-victimise women in this way", says a volunteer at the safe house. But many believe the psychological cause of domestic violence in Africa must first be addressed.
"I grew up in a family that didn't call it domestic violence", says Asaandra, "it was like a culture, a tradition where a man can chase a wife and kids". It was the abuse of her step-father that led her to leave home at 14. And a cycle of dependency was perpetuated. "My mom said: 'no don't tell people. This is natural to men', and I believed her". There was no counselling, no discussion whatsoever. Experts now believe that the psychological effects of apartheid, especially on the patriarch of a family, must be addressed if Africa is ever to fully overcome domestic abuse.
"Men would deal with the frustrations they had in the public sphere by taking them into the family sphere where they felt they had some sense of power", says the Centre for the Study of Violence Reconciliation. "That sense of humiliation is still there for many men as well as the self doubt". Safe houses are opening all over Africa, and thanks to pressure from organisations such as the Ethiopian Women's Lawyers Organisation, legal changes are slowly taking place. But it's the public awareness that this is creating, which may finally get people talking about what was once accepted as 'culture' in an aim to overcoming Africa's troubled past.
Sensitive to the complexities of societies in which male omnipotence has been secretly flourishing for generations, 'It's Time' is also a hopeful witness to a new optimism in the lives of African women. LEARN MORE.
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