Feminism and gender activism have been confused and displaced terms. It has been so contested to the extent of losing its meaning.
Today in Tanzania when you mention Mara or generally somebody from Mara region which is located at the Eastern part of Lake Victoria, it is synonymous to gender violence. Any talk and argument that will engage gender violence typical examples are usually drawn from Mara especially among the Kurya tribe.
During the reign of Romulus the emperor of Rome 753 BC wife-beating was accepted and condoned under the Laws of Chastisement, under such laws husband had the absolute rights to physically discipline his wife. Since by law, a husband is held liable for crimes committed by his wife, this law was designed to protect the husband from harm caused by wife’s actions. These laws permit the husband to beat his wife with a rod.
300 AD the church fathers re-established the husband’s patriarchal authority and the patriarchal values of Roman and Jewish law. The Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great had his wife burned alive when she is no longer of use to him.
In most of the African pastoral societies-those keeping herds of cattle give some few herds of cattle in exchange of a woman or young girl for a wife. This is common among the Kurya, Luo, Maasai and Sukuma people.
For Kurya and Luos for instance woman becomes integral part of man’s family and no one should intervene in the style of life you are leading, be it beating a woman before dew drops at dawn or at dusk no one cares because the woman is yours by virtue of bride price paid in terms of some few herds of cattle.
Divorce among these people is not a common thing even today; it is seen as deviance, man failing to fulfill his responsibilities or vice versa. I stand to be corrected and because no study has been conducted so far to prove this. So save me that slice of criticism.
Proceeding on the case of marital rape in 1500s English Jurist, Lord Hale, states that when women married, they ‘gave themselves to their husbands’ in contract, and could not withdraw that consent until they divorced. This is what has been guiding the pastoral society’s ways of treating women, however unknowingly that there were other people elsewhere doing it lawfully.
I am not supporting such barbaric behaviors but what am trying to say is that we need to look for solutions instead of lamenting and complaining about it. Nowhere in the world certificate is given because of complaints or merits are given for it or no job is offered because of being good at registering complaints.
The causes of gender violence range from ignorance to standard of living. Some of the gender violence and discrimination we may talk of today are but not limited to; battering, nagging, closure, responsibilities put on the shoulders of a women, yearly impregnating, female genital mutilation, expulsion from school or training centres.
Battering has been given prominence and it is synonymous to domestic alias gender violence. But this is just a tip of an iceberg. It is associated with anger caused by reservations and unsettled matters in marriage between wife and husband, especially macho men, who are not ready to bend to settle issues with women. Women beating usually come as a result of too much nagging or poor communication between couples.
Looking at the gender daily calendar, women have big responsibilities in the family compared to men; the first to wake up at dawn and the last to retire to bed as late as 11pm. This include women from all walks of life, be it poor, rich, learned, urban or rural the trend is the same provided they are married to men. This is what supplements men’s work outside home.
Soft economies played by women have been ignored by many people, but it is open truth or hearsay if you don’t believe it, that with a successful man there is a disciplined woman behind the scene who ensures that things work well, the book of Proverbs 14(1) clarify that, ‘The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands.’
Agriculture has taken big chunk of women, unfortunate when farm products are sold it is men who does it and women remain observers and subordinates. This is yet other gender discrimination, but who cares? Integrated Labor Force Survey (ILFS, 2006) shows that 72 per cent of women were working on own farm, this is excluding unpaid labor and home economies.
As we keep on praising and admiring what some strong woman, can the President come out and say something from his heart that will really to tell this helpless population of women that he can really defend them truly, in one of his official tours of the country President Jakaya Kikwete ones said, ‘watoto wa kike kupata mimba ni viherehere vyao, girl child pregnancy is due to their palpitation!’ Was he true to his conscience? Like father like son, the current Mbeya regional commissioner, who is also a presidential appointee also told girl children that whoever gets pregnancy at school will be locked behind bars; this happened when he was touring Kyela district.
The nation still mourns extra ordinary woman MP who passed away a week ago the Late Regia Mtema. The president and some MPs and policy makers that have been against the girl child given opportunity to obtain her goals if impregnated in the course of studying, praised the gone glory, late Regia for her boldness. But how many do we fail due justified unjust laws inherited from Britons, 50 plus years?
Permanent solutions to some problems of gender violence will be eliminated or reduced to zero unless equal opportunity is provided to both boys and girls regardless of a girl being pregnant or not, when men from all walks of life will treat women as equal partners not as subordinates, as the Christians Holy Bible notes that every man should respect his wife and woman should respect her husband!