The silence within the walls of Katende Uthman’s marriage was so loud that the African Djembe drum that signals danger had awakened the whole village to the ridicule of his hands that had left his woman in bad shape.
You are a brute they had sounded scorn.
Katende admitted beating her to pulp regularly.
On occasion when she sought to be freed from violence, the price was high.
“I punched her so hard in the face! She got swollen…I expected I would kill her….and she reported me to the police station…I had to hide away the police report and reference number she had got from the police and thank God she must have forgotten about it…because she didn’t pursue the case…”.
The exposé on a Ugandan Boda Boda Cyclist Katende Uthman is a classic Ugandan illustration. The tormentors, see brute force as the only alternative to settle a score.
Katende recounts, “…my wife used to anger me. She would respond to me disrespectfully and I would beat her! It was really bad,” he explains emphatically stressing, “…one time I bought fish for her to cook for my children. After she’d prepared it, she kept it for days without giving it to them and it went bad! When I confronted her; her response was rude. We quarreled and I beat her, that day it was awful!”
Women are endangered, an attribute predominant in Africa. Reverend Diana Nkesiga, a renowned marriage counsellor and vicar at All Saints Cathedral, explains that the status of women was lowered to that of a child vulnerable enough to be put right by a husband regarded supreme.
Old traditions have been used as cover for men to deny the opposite sex equity in aspects of social values, and access to resources she acknowledges.
“… Such beliefs still exist today where marriage is not between equals,” Nkesiga says, “If a man still has to humiliate his wife in order to reinforce his position as a man, that man lacks self-worth and is powerless and unsure of who he is.”
13,196 cases of domestic violence were reported in 2018 Uganda Police Annual Crimes Report, and these numbers threaten to soar.
The President Yoweri Museveni has been outraged at the conduct of men during this year’s International Women’s Day Celebrations.
“If you want to fight, why don’t look for a fellow man and fight?” he said referring to domestic abusers as cowards adding that lifting up women economically through education and entrepreneurship can help bring an end to rampant domestic violence.
With current trends, a cultural shift is however inevitable Nkesiga argues but denounces voices labelling such transitions as feminists, anti-Christian and anti-Islam.
Such prejudice was evident in Katende’s misgivings against his wife for leaping above him financially, “…she was trying to usurp the husband’s place in our marriage and this was belittling so I would beat her. After beating her, she would cry and I would feel guilty and regret why I had done it but after receiving couples counselling, we reconciled and I have never laid my hand on her since”.
Nkesiga, however takes a shot at women losing moral and social responsibility.
“Today’s marriage has failed to understand the concept of being one because of the comparison, competition and living independently financially, spiritually, emotionally and even physical when they are in the same living space,” she said.
Nkesiga acknowledges that men are also silent victims urging them to untie the zip,
“Just like some women fail to say that they were raped for fear that no one will believe them, even men who are victims of domestic violence fear. So they protect themselves from being despised thinking how will they say that a woman beat them because they are supposed to be the man. But this must stop…they should come out…”
Drawing from encounters in her experience; “women offenders are past victims who square up with previous tormentors who are in a vulnerable like drunkenness where they can’t pounce in retaliation.
“…these are the instances where you also find men who have been poisoned or set ablaze. In other cases the women don’t feel valued but despised in their relationships but anybody who uses violence is feeling powerless and must be an angry person”.
Nkesiga advises spouses to use communication as best tool to tighten lose ends in unions.
With anger management as renowned trait in break out of extremes, the marriage counselor preaches tolerance.
She, however, advises partners on when to take hard decision on exit.
“I am not advocating for divorce but one must know when to move out of danger until this person learns to deal with anger management or else you might end up in a coffin” Nkesiga warned.