Born in a loving family of five children, girls only, Tabeth Munzvoma (44), never for a moment thought that she would one day marry a husband who would physically abuse her. Having grown up in a Christian family where she was taught that a person who loves you should not hit you, she had a hard time coming into terms with the violent behaviour shown by her husband.
Tabeth’s breakthrough however came when she joined a Rural Women’s Assembly, an ActionAid Zimbabwe initiative in 2010.The RWA, is a is a membership based group of rural women aiming to strengthen their voices and efforts to influence processes at local, regional and international levels. Tabeth along with other women in her community got an eye-opening experience after being part of the RWA.
“I had suffered for years in the hands of my husband who was a drunkard and very abusive. He would use all his money on alcohol and in the process, would become violent and beat me for no reason,” she said.
“The abuse went on for some time until I joined the RWA group in my ward in ward 30, Nyakuni Village in Nyazura in the Manicaland Province of Zimbabwe. There I learnt that it was wrong for my husband to abuse me in the manner he did and I reported him to the traditional leaders despite the threats he gave me. The beatings stopped,” she said.
Many women in Zimbabwe especially the rural community hardly report cases of domestic abuse for fear of being stigmatised, fear of the unknown, a culture of silence and lack of knowledge. It takes courage for one to report and stand up for themselves.
I was empowered to stand up for myself by the RWA and report any form of abuse. My husband used to wake me up around odd early hours of the morning, drunk from his drinking sprees and would be violent, she said.
Through the ideas Tabeth got from the RWA group, she has made herself a better woman who does not rely on her husband for every cent. She now brings ideas and money to the table which has earned her respect from her husband who has ceased to beat her.
Tabeth has not only been a survivor of gender based violence (GBV) but she has become a key person in her community as she has been working with women and men in her community who are victims of GBV also so that they become survivors like herself.
A mother of five children, Tabeth together with her husband raise their children through farming in which she is able to support her husband who now appreciates her efforts and highlights how her husband commends her for no longer nagging him because she has her farming to focus on.
“I now encourage women to report cases of GBV and to seek help. So far I have assisted five women from my village who were stuck in abusive marriages. Now these women are now running some income generating projects such as poultry and gardening. If a woman is empowered financially then the lesser the possibilities of a misunderstanding in the home which can lead to GBV,” said Tabeth.
“I take advantage of community gatherings to preach my gospel on the dangers of GBV. People should not and should stop seeing themselves as victims but survivors because my community is winning against GBV,” she said.
Tabeth took part in the December 2017 commemorations of the 10 days of Activism against Gender Based Violence at Chitenderano Primary School in Nyazura organised and supported by ActionAid Zimbabwe and partners. She was one of the women who testified how their lives changed when they joined the RWA group in her ward 30.