Woman thou art bound

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Rejoice Nharaunda

The African woman faces many deprivations. She is deprived of basic human rights through the interconnectedness of tradition, culture and values -- values that dictate her place in society, culture that lands all care work burdens on her shoulders.

She is marginalised and vulnerable to violence and abuse because socialisation has taught her to submit and serve the master. Domestic violence enmeshed in the supremacy of the male and subordination of the female is a structural force, which orders her into subservience.

A survivor of not just traditional and cultural dictates, but also of religion, her experiences are rooted in the pervasive features of domestic violence. Strict family, tribal and traditional practices permeate her world and allow her to be the personal property of male other. In the hierarchy of the family, she is beneath not just her husband, but also every other male family member, including her own son.

Commodified to her death, a woman in some parts of the world is male property. Women are known to be subjects of honour killings, which take place to avenge family honour when a woman violates cultural or tribal expectations. With no trial or chance to defend herself, if the public consensus finds here guilty of having an illicit relationship, she becomes the target and may be murdered in restoration of family honour that she would have tarnished.

This practice targets the woman, while the man with whom she may have committed the "crime" with walks away scot-free. Marrying against family wishes by choosing her own husband, seeking divorce for whatever reason or being raped, also renders her a criminal to which death is her sentence.

Subsequently, even in death, she remains a disgrace to the family such that she is not afforded a decent burial, but her body is dumped in the river or buried in special graveyards reserved for crimes of family honour. There are no burial rites and there is no mourning for her loss. Perception, gossip, or rumour or intimation are enough to sentence her to death. As a result, women must obey the prescriptions set for her by society, tradition and culture.

Levirate marriage decrees that a widow be "inherited" by her late husband’s brother remain rife in many parts of the globe. Additionally, sororate marriages – where a widower marries his dead wife’s sister is also existent alongside female genital mutilation and other atrocities.

Access to education is another of her deprivations. UNESCO 2013 revealed that 31 million girls of primary school age were not in school, and that about one out of every four young women in developing countries had never completed their primary school education.

Subsequently, women lose the potential to gainful employment, which would allow her to earn resulting in her further subjugation. She loses the capacity to benefit from education that would see her able to make educated decisions concerning her home, her children, her health and her future.

Woman is deprived of control of her own sexuality, which compromises her sexual reproductive health rights. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 225 million women in developing countries have an unmet need for family planning, contributing to 74 million unplanned pregnancies and 36 million abortions every year, according to figures cited by Women Deliver, a women’s advocacy group. Helping women take charge of their baby-making reduces unsafe abortions and maternal deaths by over 70% each, and conserves precious resources that would otherwise have gone toward pregnancy-related costs.

Additionally, WHO estimates that 800 women die every day from preventable, pregnancy-related causes.

Research has shown that one in every three women are subjected to physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes. From rape and child sexual exploitation to domestic abuse and sexual trafficking, research has shown that gender-based violations withhold women fulfilment and happiness. Sexual assault or persuasive sex is one of the ugliest types of savagery against women and young women, as it doesn't end with the demonstration itself. Assault casualties regularly endure a type of post-awful pressure issue, and other mental issues particularly the individuals who have endured extraordinary dangers, dread and defenselessness.

Assault has additionally been portrayed as the essential instrument of control in a patriarchal culture and is frequently utilised as a component of vengeance or discipline. An extremely normal recognition about assault is that it is by one means or another the woman's blame, regardless of whether as a result of her provocative conduct or dress or on the grounds that she wandered outside the characterized reasonable parameters among outsiders.

Child marriage is a rising African phenomenon. An estimated 210 million girls will become child brides by 2020. Young women who are married before the age of 18 are normally denied an education, are in danger of intricacies identified with untimely childbearing, and rendered more defenceless against intimate partner brutality. Meanwhile, their male counterparts’ lives remain undisturbed, evidence of the prevailing skewed power dynamics.

The absence of equality and equal opportunities is a recurrent occurrence with regards to girls and women. Hinged on patriarchal practices, in a world where only 5% of women are heads of states, men define the rules of engagement and the resultant outcomes, rendering girls and women vulnerable.

In the absence of clean water, reliable energy and adequate sanitation, women and girls are the natural collateral damage. Research has evidenced that where hygienic and adequate sanitation is limited, girls will often miss school during their menstrual cycles resulting in further marginalisation and limitation of their potential. It’s also true that women in developing countries are frequently tasked with fetching water, firewood as well as all household chores.

And so the conclusion of the realities of women and girls is that they remain bound.

 

issues@issues.co.zw

 

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