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Unfolding challenges of Muteswa's domestic abuse: Trials & tribulations of single women in Zimbabwe and the law of Karma!

03 Apr 2020 at 20:50hrs | Views
Nomazulu Thata
What Chantelle Muteswa is currently going through and the amount of emotional challenges and humiliations she must cope with is just unimaginable by common sense. In her case, common sense is no longer common anymore. We have read all that has transpired in her case. The child has been abducted and the news about the child's whereabouts are so conflicting and disturbing. One information says he has gone to Dubai with his father and next we hear he is around waiting for the Thursday court ruling. Then we read that the child has been abducted by unknown persons in Dubai.  Suddenly it was Thursday, just the 2nd of April date of court judgement, when all of us were waiting for justice to take its course, the lawyers of Buyanga informed all and sundry that Buyanga is out of reach of Zimbabwe's jurisdiction. The court cannot proceed with this Buyanga/Muteswa case.

We never saw that coming because we thought Buyanga was not going to escape ZRP police nets and abscond justice with an abducted child. We were all wrong except Frank Buyanga who had his twisted plans that he knows best: to tease and mock everyone at the next turn.  But the Gambakwe media we listen to and dismiss as gutter journalism once reported that any person connected to General Chiwenga is out of reach of ZRP police and the justice system put together: Frank Buyanga is untouchable. We never believed this Gambakwe source, but this time around we know that Gambakwe Media has some traces of truth in their journalism, evidenced by the fact that Buyanga escaped justice in Zimbabwe and landed in South Africa and connected a flight to Dubai and not even the Scorpions in South Africa apprehended him at  the OT International Airport for travelling abroad illegally with a much-disputed controversy; a child whose case is currently in Zimbabwe courts.

It will assist us a lot if we reflect on Chantelle's case of domestic violence and corruption as chronic national cancers devouring our societies. Questions will insist, how did he manage to escape to fly out of the country without trace? Whom did he corrupt to move so swiftly without hinderance from one airport to the other? How porous are our borders to let criminals move with ease as if they are VIPs?

Corruption is global and domestic abuse too is global: but to be political correct, it is good to remain focused on what is happening in my country of birth first: In my case it is pertinent to reflect on the abuse of women and children in Zimbabwe as my entry point of critique: how is a single woman in Zimbabwe viewed yesterday and today. What does it mean to be called "Mvhana or imitha" (an unmarried mother) by our societies that define us as women?

As a growing up girl-child in my society, the worst crime a growing up girl could commit was to get pregnant out of wedlock and you were in school. Corrective violence was meted without mercy. There are girls who have been beaten by fathers to death. The punishment was horrendous, it meant beatings by fathers, brothers and relatives. It meant leaving school and staying home as a complete failure. It meant raising that child with little or nothing. It meant baby-dumping in latrines and sewages. It meant "mango tree" abortions. It meant you were an example of everything wrong in a growing up girl-child. At best you were considered a dirty girl. (curiously sex is considered dirty when women and girls are in question). It also meant you have a name that defines you as a malcontent in the family: in Ndebele you were called "imitha" and in Shona you were called "mvhana" you are lucky if they don't call you Kahure, ihudlanyana. (a whore) These terms simply mean a girl who gave birth and was unmarried, denigration of a female person no less, but there is no term that describes a young man or a man who makes a woman or girl pregnant.

For a man to make a woman pregnant is a trophy and the family of the man will get the laugh and giggle unendingly, full of praise of yet another reproduction. This laughing and giggling will be done by women on the man's side equally. Women are enemies of their own.
Come Karma. Globalisation and enlightenment gave birth to so many opportunities and one of them is education. How many women who got pregnant at girlhood times have made their way up to become teachers, university lecturers, businesswomen, medical doctors, lawyers, nurses, policewomen, politicians, agriculturalists, just name it? Just name any profession, some single mothers are breaking the glass ceilings. These are the women who overcame social ridicule and stigma of the highest order. These are women who managed to look after those very children called illegitimate children to successful offspring. It took brave women out there to completely change the narrative of viewing single women as complete failures: from being regarded the "rotten eggs in the family," the downtrodden who, suddenly, become envy of societies and communities they come from.

Funny but it is so, the societies clandestinely envy the lives of unmarried women in some cases. Most married women clandestinely confide with successful unmarried women, how they wished their lives were different: remained unmarried. Married women in Zimbabwe, some of them, see their lives immersed with challenges such as men bringing STD diseases at their matrimonial beds, some of these diseases are not treatable- HIV/AIDS. Married women have to cope with irresponsible and unfaithful men who manage to secretly expand his family by getting children in these so-called small houses. This arrangement depletes the income at home adversely. Widows are surprised by inheritance claims made by children born secretly outside the marital homes, they did not know those children existed, but all coming to claim what belongs to them by right as children of the deceased father.

How many married men gloat around about the number of children they have sired out of wedlock? For men that is a big trophy to sire so many children even if he does not have a clue how he is going to look after them. When it comes to sex, our Zimbabwean men can be irresponsible indeed. Not to shift blame on men only: when it comes to family planning, the economic situation in Zimbabwe would inform anyone to be responsible in their decisions and take responsibility of their actions. If there is anyone of the genders who remained responsible in their actions are women. In some cases, when a woman gets pregnant, her focus shifts to recognizing the responsibility she has upon the child. Most women know that the only way out of this desperation of being abandoned by the father of the child is to educate that child, empower her/him for the future. This strategy has always worked in most cases and the single mothers can do anything to have their children get the best education.

Come Karma: There is this inherent notion in our societies that a girl or a woman who gets pregnant out of wedlock should be punished by Karma and the society equally. These unmarried women somehow do manage life better if they concentrated on their "children without fathers" than to prove different. The societies are then duped by the notion of Karma who will abundantly usher equal blessings to them and extend it further to women who have "offended and insulted" the families and societies by getting those children "without father". In this case the notion of Karma is so misunderstood, is Karma not present in all kinds and all forms of life? She/He cannot be Karma if her/his duty was to punish what the society perceives as wrong. To get pregnant out of wedlock and the society terms it as wrong is a social construct and not Karma. Who asks one question: is it not Karma who allows life of mankind to happen, conceiving is Karma's work and wisdom? Why would he permit reproduction that he/she will again condemn by meting whatever punishment the societies desperately want? Our societies love violence and punishment of women, no less.

Punishment is a form of societal justice in our cultures that has been in existence time immemorial. It is for this reason that any woman who gets pregnant outside marriage should face the wrath of Karma to the satisfaction of the societies as lesson and future warning to all other growing up girl-children. When Karma does not respond to what societies demand of him/her to do, there comes the bitterness. They feel cheated somehow by this Karma who continues to bless what the societies deem as an abomination. Some women are even called "rotten eggs in the family" for "breeding" children without fathers. This is the grammar we were fed with when we gave birth to those "children without fathers" and one wonders if there is such a biological occurrence of a woman getting pregnant without a male sperm.

Let me come back to Chantelle and her current agony, appearing to be losing a bitter battle on the surface, she is losing the only child she has. The complete absence of solidarity from our womenfolk will inform you that at last their belief in Karma is confirmed. According to our women and of course some men they are saying: "yes, it serves her right." This is the kind of punishment our women enjoy most when they see one of their own suffering this kind of pain that is sex related. Indeed, the pain that has sexual connotation in it is painful and women know this well. It is for this reason our women dwell largely on such gossip and ridicule and accusations until exhaustion. Chantelle could be the talk of Harare and Bulawayo combined and is gossiped about to downright nastiness. In Chantelle's case something is confirmed that they have been waiting for so long. It is, according to them, Karma who is meting his/her punishment on this unmarried woman called Chantelle who dared.

Our women have no mercy and will even inflict more pain in such cases where a single woman is left to suffer emotional abuse at the hands of those men like Frank Buyanga. According to some Zimbabwean women, Karma has spoken. What happened to Chantelle can happen to everyone else: it can happen to their own daughters, nieces, and any of their relatives and friends. The women who laughed loud at us yesterday, who wished Karma should punish us for getting illegitimate children, it is those negative wishes they wished "other" that hit back at them like a boomerang. We have experienced those "laughing loud women" having to bear the embarrassment of getting grandchildren threefold from three separate unknown fathers. This is the story of negative thought processes and this is Karma whose deliberations we shall never know, whose wisdom we shall never comprehend.

Chantelle's situation is wholly temporal. Chantelle shall laugh last; I believe strongly that the universe will protect her son's health. This Karma belongs to all of us it did not matter how morally correct or "wrong" we all belong to her/him. The oxygen we breath coming from Karma is not a prerogative of the morally good women of Zimbabwe. We were all made in the likeness of Karma and therefore Karma looks after all of us in the same measure.

It is in the context that I feel we should be in solidarity to all women of all corners of this world: solidarity is a global obligation of all of us women of all colour. Solidarity does not permit us to scrutinize misdeeds of any woman who deserves our solidarity. Solidarity looks above all narrow confines of limited thinking and that is the uniqueness of it. If I was a Christian I was going to say: "love your neighbour as yourself." You cannot ridicule yourself if you love yourself and if the other is you and is like yourself in his/her likeness. I rest my case. The journey to a just society and a just world is long but achievable.

Source - Nomazulu Thata
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