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Women emotionally abused in relationships

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Kaone Mmereki* was in her late twenties when she met her husband at a music festival. He had all the makings of an ideal 21st century man to fall for: kind, intelligent, wealthy and caring. She fell in love with him quickly and felt he was the one for her when she saw how much he loved her two daughters from a previous relationship. In an interview with The Midweek Sun, Mmereki stated how she overlooked some red flags before their wedding seven years ago. “He abused alcohol and took offense when I complained.

He told me it was his money and not mine, yet when I asked for money to do my hair, he would drag,” she said. Nonetheless, she went ahead and married him. She would later fall pregnant, and had twins, and this is when her husband now became openly abusive. “He called me fat, complained about my stretch-marks and said he was no longer feeling me sexually. He said I had got too big down there,” she said, adding that he also started sleeping outside home. During their marriage, he regularly abused her. And here is the kicker: She did not know he was doing it.

Because no hitting was involved, she simply did not have a name for the behaviour that made her feel diseased in his presence: the subtle put-downs, the physical avoidance and the mocking. Experts do, though. They call it emotional abuse, and it is as widespread in romantic relationships as it is misunderstood. In the simplest terms, emotional abuse is behaviour and language designed to degrade or humiliate someone by attacking their self-value or personality. While a normal couple may disagree about how to spend money, for example, an emotional abuser will make his partner feel as though she is too stupid to understand the intricacies of finances. It can range from verbal abuse — yelling, blaming, shaming, and name-calling — to isolation, intimidation, and threats. It also commonly shows up as stonewalling and dismissing, behaviours that make victims feel alone and unimportant.

University of Botswana graduate Matildah Montsho says the emotional abuser gets a feeling of achievement. “It’s either he is insecure or downright weak. Men who generally abuse women, especially women, have something to hide. Sometimes they had it tough growing up without someone to look up to and therefore lacked guidance,” she says, adding that a man who swears at a woman is a weak man. From Women’s Shelter Women are emotionally abused in their relationships, according to Kagisano Women’s Shelter director Lorato Moalosi.

The highest numbers of women they accommodate are those that have been made to feel worthless by their partners, married or single. These, she says, include, being an absent partner or father, use of harsh words, being threatened to be dumped or divorced or even killed. “Being told you are nothing, or when he doesn’t take care of you and/or the children, being called a useless bitch are just examples of what our clients go through,” she says. However, Moalosi does not dispute the fact that men also get abused but she says women experience it a lot more, and even daily. A 2010 situational analysis on Gender Based Violence in Botswana shows that more than half of women are forced to have sex without protection. Half of the women in the country have experienced GBV and are more likely to be infected with HIV.

Twenty-three percent of pregnant women experience violence during pregnancy. Experts say that its effects can be devastating: depression, anxiety, and destroyed self-esteem. “It’s very erosive,” says Marti Loring, Ph.D., author of Emotional Abuse. “Whether it’s overt or covert, the abuse negates a woman’s very being.” Kenanao Mmusi, 30, had a boyfriend who would accuse her of being promiscuous for having dated one man he knew. He would even discredit her ex-boyfriend and call him ‘useless.’ “When any family members or friends called her, he said they were stealing time from him, even though they were living together”. Psychology graduate Montsho says that women should always look out for warning signs that include blaming, a sense of entitlement, jealousy and a feeling of dominance. *Kaone Mmereki is not the interviewee’s real name

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Botswana urged to sign Maputo

Keletso Thobega

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Botswana is one of the five countries that have been advised to sign the Maputo Protocol. Botswana, Egypt and Morocco are the only three African countries that have not signed this Protocol. Adopted in 2003 and implemented in 2005, the Maputo Protocol is a ground-breaking protocol on women and girls’ human rights, both within Africa and beyond.

It compensates for the shortcomings in the 1981 African Charter with respect to women and girls rights. It includes 32 articles on women and girls’ rights, and also provides an explicit definition of discrimination against women, which was missing in the African Charter.

The Maputo Protocol defines discrimination as “any distinction, exclusion or restriction or any differential treatment based on sex and whose objectives or effects compromise or destroy the recognition, enjoyment or the exercise by women, regardless of their marital status, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in all spheres of life.”

The State of African Women Report 2018 stipulates that more still needs to be done to implement laws and commitments to the rights of women and girls in African societies. While there has been significant improvements in addressing issues affecting women and girls over the years, the report notes that commitment to girls and women’s right is still lagging behind.

The report highlights that:
“Three in five countries in Africa do not criminalise rape, young women aged 15-24 in sub-Saharan Africa are 2.5 times more likely to be infected by HIV in comparison to men in the same age group, more than half of maternal deaths worldwide occur in sub-Saharan Africa and that gender based violence and sexual assault still affects women more”.

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Mama Rampa, the Good

Yvonne Mooka

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NOBLE CALLING: Martha Rampa on a mission to rescue the underprivileged

Martha Rampa, project manager at AAP Home Based Care and Family Life Programme quit her nursing job over ten years ago to attend to the needs of orphans, poor and sick.

AAP has 3119 orphans and underprivileged children from South East, Kweneng, Kanye and Kgalagadi districts. The Non-Governmental Organisation aims at supporting, providing food, clothing, shelter, education, nursing care, counselling and supporting destitute, terminally ill patients and orphaned children.

According to Rampa, the thrust of the practice is the link between the patient and the clinical management services. “It is a person-centred approach, which ensures that patients receive the appropriate service in a supportive and effective manner. Destitute and orphaned children have over time become integral part AAP programmes,” she said.

Last Saturday, she organised an appreciation dinner for donors. It was a colourful event where beneficiaries had also come to testify about the way their lives have changed since they were enrolled.

One of the young girls said that she had given up on life as she was from a poor family. The under 15 girl said that through AAP, she managed to continue and is exceling at school. A young man under 20 said that he was moved from a settlement where he could not focus on his studies because of his family background.

AAP put him through a different school that has boarding. “At AAP, we call her mama Rampa. She is our mother and we are so blessed to have her,” he said at the event in Gaborone.

The primary aim of AAP is to rehabilitate and develop children in difficult circumstances such as orphaned children, street children, economically poor and socially oppressed children and work for the eradication of child labour and child exploitation.

Rampa said the vision is to help and give many more children a real and loving home which helps them to live and grow up to be free, healthy and independent individuals; to influence behavioural change of individuals, especially those in the realm of sex and family life and to introduce a change that will bring a transformation, which alleviates the impact of HIV/Aids infection and stops the spread of the virus within the community.

She said there were local companies that had committed themselves to giving the children food after every two weeks. Through her gift of counselling, she also assists with providing emotional and spiritual support including counselling to orphans, destitute, terminally ill and the poor. She also prays for them.

She said that since the project started in 2000, the focus was on the care of HIV/AIDS patients. Volunteers were trained to take care of terminally ill patients in their homes. “Due to lack of funds in supporting the volunteers, for three years only 45 were full time serving in the project with great results.

“A networking relationship was established with Ministry of Health/AIDS department and Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs as well as other NGOs like BOCAIP, Clinics around Gaborone and Church leaders. We effectively communicated our mission to our leaders like Counsellors, Members of Parliament and diKgosi in the areas where we are operating,” she said.

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