Saturday, June 27, 2009

Violence against women:the vicious cycle

Many young women, especially in low income groups in rural Africa, get married to escape poverty at home. They believe anything is better than staying at home. Such women usually endure extreme physical and mental abuse, especially if the husband realizes that she has nowhere else she can go for help.

Most of these women have, at best the most basic level of formal education and at worst none at all. This means, therefore, that they are unemployable. They bring forth children who grow up in these poor conditions and receive minimum formal education. These children pray for the day they will move away from home and they latch on to the first person who proposes marriage, even in jest. They do not realize they are moving from the frying pan into the fire.

Incidentally, the same obtains in the case of families with abusive parents. The lack of parental love at home pushes the young girls into the arms of the first vagabond who promises them love. Most of these girls do not even finish school. Most of such unions end up even before they start (use and dump), and the girl ends up stuck with a few kids from the relationship.

Such children hardly ever see the inside of a formal education institution. They are raised amidst all the poverty with the dreams of ‘marriage the savior’ swirling through their na├»ve minds. They fall prey to the first person who promises them marriage and riches. And the rest is history.

Other girls will run away from home to get married in order to escape rules and regulations at school and at home. In other words looking for freedom and fun- pretty much like a young man running away from parental rules, and joining the army.

We need to exhort the queens in our lives to realize that marriage is probably worse than hell as a haven. Marriage should be a preserve for the strong and not for the weak, economically or otherwise.

Women should always make sure they have a fallback plan before they engage in the marriage business. The fallback position should include at least adequate formal education, and preferably should already be employed when getting married.

This would ensure that one can opt out of an abusive relationship and be able to take care of herself and the kids if the worst comes to the worst.

This is not about blaming the victim, its about exhorting the potential victims to take control of their lives.

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