MDHS HIGHLIGHTS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
- 34 percent of women have experienced physical violence since age 15.
- The most common type of spousal violence is emotional violence (30 percent), followed by physical (26 percent) and sexual violence (19 percent).
- 34 percent of ever married women who have experienced spousal violence report experiencing physical injuries; this includes 11 percent with serious injuries such as deep wounds, broken bones and broken teeth.
- 40 percent of women who have experienced any physical or sexual violence have sought help to stop the violence and half have never sort help or told anyone about the violence
Brenda Kapyola, a 35-year-old woman of Sitima village, Traditional Authority Mulumbe in Zomba, is scarred for life.
She is traumatised and still in shock.
Last month, Brenda narrowly escaped death when her jealousy husband hacked and left her for dead.
The husband, Ricks Kameza, who works in South Africa repeatedly, accused her of cheating on him.
When he returned home in June this year, Kameza was an angry man, possessed and ready to kill.
First he stopped his wife from engaging in any income generating activity as a way of preventing her from meeting other men he suspected.
The jealousy husband was sleeping with a knife under his pillow, ready to pounce on his wife anytime.
Kameza’s anger and violent conduct scared Brenda. She started pushing for a divorce.
“He used to call from South Africa accusing me of cheating on him because I was employed, yet he never sent me any money…He even took my phone and contacted people to find out whether they were men or women,” Brenda explained to Sunday Times when we visited her last week.
“He eventually destroyed my sim card. Some of my friends mocked me as to whether I was married to a man or boxer because of his violent acts,” she recalled.
The divorce was made and Brenda continued to live at her parents’ home. But on the night of September 19, 2018, Kameza sneaked into Brenda’s house at night and pounced on her. He hacked her with a panga knife while she was naked.
“He was very angry …. I shouted for help. He even hit our daughter on the head,” she recalls, looking traumatised and disturbed.
After the incident, her family wanted to take her to Thondwe Health Centre (about 10 kilometers away) on a wheelbarrow but after covering 500 meters they realised that it was impossible.
Later they used a motor bike to ferry her to Zomba Central Hospital, where she was given pints of blood.
On our visit this week, we saw Brenda having stitches all over her body; under her chin, on the forehead, on her back among the visible body parts but she says she also has deep wounds on some private parts.
“This is not the first time he has hurt me…We once went to Police victim support unit and recently Thondwe police on similar issues.
But Brenda insists that she has never cheated on her husband but was quick to say she was fed up with his attitude and conduct.
The couple had been cohabiting for four years.
Brenda’s mother, Patricia Kapyola, said she ignored the issues for fear of being accused of interfering in her child’s family matters.
“This is the third time he has hurt my daughter. It’s enough…, it’s better for my daughter to be single and stay alive. She has an MSCE and I’m hopeful that she will get a job and support her daughter. My fellow mothers… please watch out for violent in-laws and interfere before it’s too late,” said the highly emotive Kapyola.
Domestic violence is a major issue is Malawi and Brenda is not the only woman who has endured such ordeal.
The 2015-16 Malawi Demographic and Health Survey (MDHS) says 42 percent of ever married women have experienced spousal violence, with the most common being emotional violence, followed by physical violence estimated at 26 percent.
The MDHS says domestic violence is widely acknowledged as a great concern, not only from a human rights perspective but also from economic and health perspectives.
Last month, The Sunday Times carried a story of a jealousy man who killed his wife in Mzimba on suspicion of unfaithfulness. Two days ago, another jealousy man, scalded his wife in Kasungu because he suspected she was being unfaithful.
Another famous domestic violence case happened in 2006 when Hebert Mankhwala of Dowa chopped off his wife’s hands.
Gender activists said domestic violence is a huge problem in the country, even though it seems to be an ignored issue.
Executive Director for Women’s Legal Resource Centre (Worlec), Maggie Kathewela-Banda, said a week hardly passes without having a woman complaining about an abusive partner.
“These come in different forms including physical, psychological and economic,” she said, adding that at least once a month, they have a case documented seeking divorce.
“In most cases clients seek divorce on grounds of cruelty. We have had two cases of women being severely beaten this year,” Kathwera- Banda said.
Executive Director for Umunthu Foundation, David Odali, condemned the use of violence to resolve marital problems because everyone’ rights have to be respected.
“It’s unfortunate that in most cases women are victims and are left with permanent disabilities. There is need for stiffer sentences for the perpetrators,” he said.
In May this year, Director of Public Prosecutions, Mary Kachale lamented the tendency of withdrawing domestic violence cases at the courts, underlining that those crimes are against the Republic and not an individual.
Meanwhile, Kameza is answering charges of causing grievous harm and he has been in prison since the day of the incident. He handed himself over to the police on the day of the incident.
Police records indicate that the case hearing started on Tuesday this week.
Kameza pleaded guilty on the offence of causing grievous harm before Senior Resident Magistrate Joshua Nkhono.
In mitigation, Kameza asked for forgiveness because he did not know what he was doing. The case was adjourned to October 18, 2018.
Physical spousal violence: Push you, shake you, throw something at you, slap you, twist your arm or pull your hair, punch you with his/her fist or with something that could hurt you; kick you, drag or beat you, try to choke or burn you on purpose or threaten to attack you with a knife.
Sexual spousal violence: Physically force you to have sexual intercourse with him even when you did not want to; physically force you to perform any other sexual acts you did not want to; force you with threats or in any other way perform sexual acts you did not want to.
Emotional spousal violence: say or do something to humiliate you in front of others; threaten to hurt or harm you or someone close to you; insult you or make you feel bad about yourself.—Source: MDHS 2015
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