North Grapples with Domestic Violence

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By Anna Ingwafa

OSHAKATI

Extra-marital affairs, HIV/AIDS, possessiveness, alcohol and drug abuse and financial constraints are at the top of the list of what causes domestic violence in the North.

Monika Erasmus, a social worker for the Ministry of Health and Social Services in Oshana Region, explains that this type of violence mostly occurs between couples who are living together or once lived together in conjugal
relationships.

Erasmus told New Era that extra-marital affairs usually lead to abuse, particularly after one partner has lost interest in the marriage or union.

HIV/AIDS is ano-ther factor of domestic violence. After couples have been tested and find themselves HIV-positive, it can lead to confrontation and blaming of each other, until the stronger person tends to abuse the weaker one, according to the social worker.

There is also a large number of people in the North who consume too much alcohol. “When one is under the influence of alcohol, we know how they operate, they tend to see things upside down and end up beating their partners.”

Erasmus said while there are few men who seek help from social workers because of abuse from their wives, it is mostly women who are abused by their partners. She cited that men are more embarrassed to come out due to cultural beliefs that they are more powerful than women.

“It is time to develop a logical and comprehensive framework for defining domestic violence. Domestic violence still remains different things to different people, more especially here in the North.

“Clearly, much of the problem is due to men acting irresponsibly and violently as they have historically done. It should be equally clear that some women must be taught that they must act more responsibly also,” she explained.

She added that although women can be violent, most violence that causes injury is perpetrated by men.

On financial matters, some partners end up abusing their spouses because of the financial power that they have. The plight of HIV/AIDS has brought a great burden to families who have to take care of sick family members as well as orphans. This stretches their finances, they end up feeling stressed and then take it out on their partners.

During this difficult period, women who have managed to leave the relationship are faced with the scary and daunting prospect of living independently and in financial hardship.

Apart from these problems, Erasmus mentioned another possible factor of domestic violence wherein a marriage is not blessed with children.

“Most of the couples come to seek help because their spouses believe they are infertile without even consulting a medical doctor before blaming each other,” explain Erasmus.

Pastor Joseph Avia of Gloria Dei ERCIN Church in Ongwediva shares the sentiment.

He also said untruths in marriages as well as unbalanced sharing of household chores can lead to domestic violence when couples confront each other.

Lack of trust can also contribute to domestic violence, with one partner opting to use protection, and the other presuming that suggestion to be an accusation of unfaithfulness. The guilty party may end up abusing the partner who refuses unprotected sex.

Avia also felt that unfair treatment of relatives leads to violence. When one partner finds out that his/her relatives are treated differently that can strain the relationship and lead to violence in the long run.

Pastor Avia also mentioned that differences in earnings can become a big problem.

“Most men do not like women to earn more than they are earning and sometimes vice versa. This can lead to emotional and physical abuse between partners.”

He concluded that it is high time that all men and women in our contemporary society begin to act more responsibly toward each other and avoid violence.

Police Spokesperson Sergeant Slogan Mateus said through their Women and Child Protection Unit in the North, they recorded 10 incidents from January to December last year.

In eight of these cases, the alleged culprits were arrested, one was withdrawn and the other one was disposed of as unsolved.

These cases do not necessarily mean that those were the only cases, and according to Mateus “most married couples preferred a warning to their troubled husband rather than him being prosecuted and being punished for their deeds”.

Some people believe that a marriage is a private thing and what happens inside a family is no one else’s business. Most women who lay charges of assault for domestic violence often drop the charges before the case comes to court and that limits the law from taking its course.

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