She is sobbing quietly to avoid being heard by the neighbors.
This is because it is not the first time that she has been beaten by her husband.
The story of Mweemba Hanjuka.
Mweemba is a 28-year-old Zambian woman, residing in Chirundu District of Lusaka province.
She has been married for 8 years as of 2022 and she has been blessed with three children.
Her marriage however was only rosy the first one year.
The remaining 7years of her marriage have been characterized by beatings, from the man that promised he would take care of her.
Mweemba’s close acquaintances have stopped advising her to leave her marriage because, well, according to one of her friends, “she will not leave anyway.”
I bumped into Mweemba during one of my many trips down the South of the country, where my mum lives. I saw a sad woman, not willing to share her experiences, until my nosy career took charge.
“I have lost count of the times he beats me, but I can’t leave. Where I’m I going to take these children if I leave him”, she searched my face for an answer and I just stared at her.
“Despite the beatings, he pays for the children’s school and I have food and a roof over my head,” Mweemba justified.
To me, it was clear that Mweemba’s husband abuses her because he knows that as a house wife, she depends on him for survival.
One thing was clear, If Mweemba had obtained a good education to earn herself a white collar job, or if she had been empowered to start a business, she would have had an income of her own. This would have empowered her to flee the shackles of Gender Based Violence GBV.
Mweemba’s story is just an example of what is obtaining in Zambia, especially the rural parts. GBV Victims withdraw their cases while others do not report at all, and opt to stay with their abusers, just to earn a living.
Poverty therefore, cannot be spared the blame for GBV rise in Zambia.
Here is the gloomy picture of GBV for the country in the fourth quarter of 2021.
According to Zambia Police Service Spokesperson Rae Hamoonga, Lusaka Province, where GBV victim Mweemba lives, recorded the highest GBV reports with 1,004 out of 7,920 cases recorded nationally, in the fourth quarter of 2021.
These are the reported cases, but keep in mind that there are people like Mweemba, who do not report their abusive spouses.
Even though the figure above has a 7.4% reduction compared to the same period in 2020, it is not a good sign because 4,948 of the cases were criminal, where the victims suffered a great deal.
Zambia’s President Hakainde Hichilema is aware of the gloomy picture of GBV in the country.
When he gave the State of the Nation Address on progress made in application of morals and principles in Parliament in March 2022, President Hichilema called on Zambians to embrace love in their way of life. “Where there is love, there is no violence”, the President said.
In the year 2021, Zambia’s national GBV figures stood at 20,540 from 26,370 recorded in 2020.
Women like Mweemba, are encouraged to report their abusers to the police, so that law can take its course, and consequently GBV offenders can reduce.
But above all else, more still needs to be done to empower GBV victims like Mweemba, to give them financial wings to fly away from abusive marriages.