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Silently men are crying

By Yohane Symon:

VICTIM—Moses hand which was scalded by his wife over an argument

For Moses, the World favours women more than men.

He has heard a lot of stories of men being arrested and sent to prison for assaulting their wives. But he claims that, his entire life, he has never heard of a woman in Malawi who has been arrested or convicted for perpetrating Gender-based Violence (GBV) against men.

Moses, of Traditional Authority Mlumbe in Zomba District, is 41 years old.

Married eight years ago, Moses describes his marriage life as a punishment for sins he never committed. By the time he was marrying his wife, Moses was not drinking beer.

But now he claims that abuse at the hands of his wife forced him to start drinking beer as a way of relieving his pain.

“Most of my friends were drinking beer but I wasn’t drinking. I then started beer-drinking to find solace in myself and escape the world’s troubles,” he says.

Moses envies women so much that he wishes he were a woman to enjoy the protection which society exclusively accords women.

“My wife was abusive. He used to physically and verbally abuse me every time we disagreed on issues,” he explains.

Moses claims that he, several times, reported his abusive wife to police, family members and some civil society organisations, to no avail.

“I went to Zomba Police to report the matter but, when I introduced the subject, the police officer who was assisting me went outside and came back with his friends. He asked me to narrate my story to his friends.

“When I did, they started laughing at me and calling me names for being abused by my wife. They said I am stupid to allow my wife to abuse me. I felt bad and walked out of the office without being assisted,” Moses says.

There are a lot of men who face abuse at the hands of women but their cases are not reported because, in Malawi in particular and Africa at large, it is believed that men do not shed tears.

Yet, a significant number of them suffer in silence, according to Youth Net and Counselling officials, who manage a help-line through which people report cases of abuse.

Records indicate that a good number of men anonymously report suffering silently at the hands of their wives.

Scholars define GBV, in general, as a term used to capture violence that happens because of role expectations associated with each gender, along with unequal power relationships between two genders, within the context of a specific society.

Research in local civil society organisations and Police departments dealing with victim support shows that the common form of violence a significant number of men fall victim to is that of being denied conjugal rights.

One of the local Human rights defenders, Billy Mayaya, says, almost on a weekly basis, men call or personally report that they have been victimised by their wives.

In the just ended year, the Malawi Police Service registered over 26,000 cases of GBV in its victim support units.

But, as usual, most of the victims were women.

It could be that some women have taken advantage of the fact that society favours them. They can abuse men at will, safe in the knowledge that society will judge men who report such cases harshly.

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