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Zambia's celebrity couple reveal wife-beating past

Zambian singer Saboi Imboela (R) with her actor husband Owas Ray Mwape

By Jo Fidgen
BBC News, Lusaka

One of Zambia's most famous singers has revealed how she was badly beaten by her husband. She now hopes to lift the lid on the country's ingrained acceptance of domestic violence.

"My husband will kill me," giggles Saboi Imboela nervously. "But, yes, he once beat me up so badly I reported him to the police."

The 32-year old is one of Zambia's top vocalists. Her husband is a popular actor, Owas Ray Mwape. This is the first time she has spoken publicly about the beating she received at his hands, and she wriggles uncomfortably at the memory.

The majority of women enjoy a beating, because they are made to believe it is part of our tradition
Christine Kalamwina
Gender in Development Director

"It was the police who begged me not to take it further," she recalls, revealing some of the engrained attitudes she is now taking on.

"They told me: 'We know how you women are. We'll lock him up and in a minute or two, you'll change your mind and want him released.'"

Her doctor also dissuaded her from reporting the assault, as did some of her friends.

'Part of growing up'

Campaigners believe more than half of Zambian women have suffered domestic abuse but cases rarely come to light because of the stigma attached to speaking out.

Young women are taught by their elders to accept punishment from their husbands when they are disobedient. Even cooking a bad meal warrants a smack.

Zambian woman carrying goods
Many women fear divorce would leave them in penury

"That's how you grow up in Africa," explains Mr Mwape.

"To be a man, you need to discipline a woman, give her a slap or two. You know, in our culture, it's OK because that's how we feel we love our women."

It is a message driven home at boys' initiation ceremonies - chastisement is a sign of affection and a woman never achieves the status of an adult. Like a child she needs to be "trained" to behave well.

In some parts of the country tradition allows a man to beat his wife if he survives a crocodile attack.

In others, a wife's infidelity is revealed when her newborn baby coughs. She must take the consequences.

"Tradition is used as a cover for domestic violence," complains Johnson Tembo.

As chairman of the Men's Network, he tries to persuade his peers to alter their behaviour.

But he believes women's attitudes need to change too.

"Some women are foolish enough to think that if they are not beaten by their husbands, they're not loved," he says.

Marital-rape clause

It is a problem recognised by the Zambian government's Gender in Development Division.

Director Christine Kalamwina is forthright about the challenges she faces in tackling domestic abuse.

"The majority of women enjoy a beating, because they are made to believe it is part of our tradition," she says.

She believes the answer is to create awareness that violence against women is discrimination.

"Then they can stand up and claim their rights," she says.

Those rights are being discussed with the drafting of an anti-domestic violence bill.

As it stands, the law does not recognise attacks on women as a specific crime. Cases are treated as simple assault.

But the bill, which is designed to change that, is already running into difficulties.

A clause outlawing marital rape has been dropped because of cultural considerations.

And Ms Kalamwina says it is proving hard to reach agreement on where to draw the line between courtship rituals and sexual harassment in a country where women are expected to play hard to get.

'Partner or doormat?'

But even if the law is tightened, would it make a difference?

The risks of taking a stand against domestic violence are too great for many women. They are often blamed for provoking their husbands and ostracised for exposing them.

I was ready to go jail for what I did; I deserved it
Owas Ray Mwape

Divorce may follow, with devastating consequences.

"Abused women tell us they don't want their relationships to break up because the husband is the bread-winner, and they won't be able to take care of their children," says Hope Kasese Kumalo, the acting national co-ordinator for Woman and Law in Southern Africa.

"There's a lot of glorification of marriage in this country," she says.

"Some women who are economically independent will not speak out against violence because they want to stay married at all costs.

"If you are married you are respected; if you are not, people will think there is something wrong with you."

A battered woman who runs to her parents is often sent back to her abusive husband.

Zambian women working in a village
Campaigners are now hoping to revolutionise women's rights

Fortunately, not all cases end badly. At home in Lusaka, Ms Imboela and Mr Mwape snuggle up on the sofa together.

"He's a good husband, we've sorted out our differences," smiles Ms Imboela.

Mr Mwape counts himself lucky.

"I was ready to go jail for what I did; I deserved it. I have stopped hitting my wife for the sake of our boys. I don't want them to become what I became," he says.

"I'm pleased Saboi has spoken about this. That's the way to go."

Is he worried about his reputation?

"No, I don't have concerns that people will think less of me now, because in Zambia, 99.9% of men have committed that crime before," he says.

Ms Imboela is now working on a song about women's rights, called Yenze Nthawi Yakayena (That Was Then).

"Men have always mistreated their wives. But times have changed, and men must too," she sings.

She says she hopes abused women will hear her song and "stand up and say: 'This is wrong'.

"And that men will look at their situation and say: 'I love my wife and I shouldn't treat her like this. She's my partner, not my doormat'," she says.


Thanks for your comments. Please read a selection below:

The long and short of all of this is that it is not acceptable to beat anyone. Simple.

As adults we are free to behave as we please with in the realms of law. If one has a spouse who behaves in a manner one finds unacceptable then the truth is you married the wrong person. Remove yourself and save further heart ache if you can't sit down, talk and come to an acceptable compromise.

A man who beats a woman is, let's face it, weak and lacks self control and possibly has latent mental health issues (being unable to control ones own actions in anger is in fact a mental health problem) If you love a person you don't want to see them hurt talk less of inflict hurt.

This is a global issue and does not relate specifically to culture. The article above is very poor and the couple should really re-assess what they have said. 'My husband will kill me' giggled Soboi as though it's a laughing matter. Disgusting.
Fola, London

I am a Zambian woman from the same tribe as Mr Mwape. That is certainly not how we grow up in Zambia. Mr Mwape should speak for himself. Most Zambians find it totally unacceptable to beat your wife or any woman and no civilised Zambian would condone it in anyway. There are no excuses. We have a beautiful, rich culture and this is definitely not part of it.
Musonda, London, UK

Owas does not speak for any Zambian culture. There is no Zambian culture that encourages a man to beat a woman. I think its time we stopped hiding behind culture.
Monica Chalawila, Zambia

I am a Zambian traditionalist from the same tribe as Mr Owas Ray Mwape, who must be the northern part of Zambia i Believe. Wife battering is totally unacceptable in this day and era even in the Zambian culture. Young men and women who are about to get married are taught to resolve their differences amicably, mostly by calling on marriage counsellors. Each party has a marriage counsellor and it is totally unacceptable for Mr Mwape to justify his actions.
Emmanuel chota, lusaka, ZAMBIA

@Frank from Kampala. i am disgusted by your advice to men that when women are arrogant etc they should be lightly woken up. I have a master degree in engineering and i am a white British woman. I was with a Nigerian man for a number of years supporting him entirely with my wage whilst he sat at home working the occasional night. he did not clean house or cook for me. does that mean i should have lightly woken him up for not doing what i expected when i was the main bread winner by over 50,000 pounds sterling????? Please don't be so utterly ridiculous. Authority and leadership is not defined by gender, and punishment and discipline should not be meted out by either man or woman!!! Get with the times and stop insulting everyone with your horrendously backwards perspective
Anonymous

I come from the Eastern part of Angola. And the Lunda-Tchokwe do not in any way tolerate or allow wife beating. In fact in our culture, you could lose your wife as her brothers or Uncle will simply walk in and walk away with her. It is a very expensive and complicated procedure to have her back in your home. It could be true that some societies in Zambia tolerate wife beating but then Zambia is not Africa. We are a diverse society with different cultures and among our many cultures in Lunda-Tchokwe, it does not include wife beating.
Mario Zacarias, North Dakota

I do not think it's a cultural thing. Women should rather look for "responsible" men rather than cheap losers. As a man, I saw my father cook in the house with my mom and no arguments over chores or what to do. In some cases of spousal abuse, some women fell victims due to their choice. What do you expect of a guy who sags his pants and do drugs? They see responsible young men and go about chasing a man with history of anger and abuse. Tell me what you expect in their home? At the same time, women also abuse men only that the guys do not complain due to the societal influence. Who will you tell if your wife slapped you or beat you up?
Bod, Edmonton, Canada

Nice contributions. What cause(s) wife battering - 'I ll show u am the man of this house irrespective of your status". Pls dont be deceived man is created as the head & contesting this fact is the singular causative agent. Our women should learn how to obey God's injuction concerning marriage i.e submit yourself to him PROVIDED what he is demanding is Honest, Legitimate & Godly. Summarily any man that beat his wife should either be taken to asylum or better still zoo bcos that is d place he can enjoy d liberty of lawlessness. How can a sane man be beating himself(for the Two are One). All it requires is Understanding, Patience & Prayer
Adepomola Kayode, Ibadan

I am an Eritrean and grew up often been smack by my parents and I have no regrets to that. However recently I was badly hurt by my own husband who is suppose to protect and love me, specially as we are in diaspora and I took short cut to leave because no words, gifts or change of behaviour can heal the pain and the humiliation I felt. A man who heats a woman is no a man, but a weak and unsecure kind.
Nisbah, Germany

many seems to look violence from the men angle alone but some women cant control themselves, any little thing they bounce on the man tearing his clothes, using her nails on him , throwing things at him, what do you expect from such men if they have to defend themselves. some women are just troublesome.
david, london

women must stop moving out with other men..everytime coming late drunk..these beatings are ok..but men dont beat too much..just slap
francis, russia

I am a Canadian black woman. I spent about two years in a relationship with a Nigerian man, who was also 14 years my senior. He definitely had some control issues and got very aggravated when I would question his values, whereabouts, or integrity. We had an incident where I was attacked by him and the police did become involved... it was an embarrassing and sad experience for both of us. This man had been in Canada for over 20 years, but I certainly sensed strong cultural values and beliefs that stem from his upbringing. I believe that our relationship would have been very abusive, had we of lived in Nigeria for example, where woman's rights are neglected - to say the least! It is sad to say, but from the things that he shared with me I am convinced that woman in certain parts of Africa (and many other countries around the world)have been socially constructed to accept a second class status in society. The things he shared with me about Nigerian society lead me to believe that it is not accepted for woman in Nigeria to question a man at any time or regarding anything. In fact, he actually told me that if I were in Nigeria that the women there would teach me "my place." I have since left this relationship and learned a valuable lesson. When a man can not respect you as an equal and deserving woman, no matter the culture, than he has issues with himself that will only change with self reflection and self actualization... YOU CANNOT CHANGE HIM! I am highly disturbed by the number of women who are abused and nothing is done about it. Women stand up for you self respect, and find a love that is true, because you are worth it!
MJ, Canada

A woman is a person, she should not be treated differently from a man in the household (or most other places). Two partners can split chores as they see fit, but never under any circumstances does a man have a right to lay a hand to her. Men would never stand for women beating them when they disagree or are flatulent or slovenly, so why would anyone ever think the reverse is acceptable?
Olivia, Travelling, The World

Well, has anyone looked at their own country lately? I live in the US and constantly see ads on television advising young women who are being beaten by their boy friends to inform their parents or elders, it is an epidemic. Daily there are articles in the papers about women having sought an "order of protection" against their spouse or significant other. Some have been shot, not just beaten, shot in the street, chased with gun drawn... even the children are now getting killed with the spouse. Here I find the BBC talking about some misguided "singer" and her "actor" husband, and the conclusion drawn is African culture condones "wife beating". I never fail to be amazed at the blanket statements thrown around about Africans and African culture. I guess the fact that no-one ever really challenges these false statements makes all that one hears about "African culture" true. Exactly what is "African culture"? There a myriads of traditional beliefs by more variations on the definition of an African than any other. This is all part of the freedom that is felt by the alleged "civilized world" to say and do anything to Africa and Africans. One gets so fed up and tired.
dora brown, New York NY

"That's how you grow up in Africa," explains Mr Mwape.

I am getting tired of people like Mr Mwape who treat customs in their little corner of Africa as being representative of the entire continent. For a start Africa is a continent not a country; I grew up having the honour of knowing marriage life between my grandparents; parents and other family members and never did I ever see any of the men lift a hand against their wives. I am 32 years and wife beating is not a norm and it's frowned upon and just like the western society a few bad nuts will still do it. That does not mean it is an accepted practice.

Wake up and stop giving a Africa a bad name; Africans are civilized and it's about time this was passed across by the western media and their mouth pieces like Mr Mwape...
Malcolm, Ealing UK

What people have to realize is that there is no "African" culture. Every tribe has its own tradition and Africa as a whole is more culturally diverse than Europe. So a phrase like "That's how you grow up in Africa" makes no sense.

And as countries do not always match tribes (thanks to European drawn maps), the tradition can vary largely even within the same country.
Patrick, Montreal, Canada

this article is completely misleading and as a result leads to incorrect perceptions of African and the romanticising of our culture. like anything else there are a few that give the rest of us a bad name but i am yet to meet a man who thinks that beating his wife is a way of showing love.
joe, glasgow, scotland

I do not think any good culture will promote beating of a woman. I am not married yet, but sometimes when I have misunderstanding with my girl friend, the worst I do is to take a walk and when I return, we look at each other and smile. I want to correct those referring to "this is how we do in Africa". The fact that you do it in Zambia does not represent the rest of other 52 African countries. We in my place were trained to respect women, not only women but people. Violence in whatever guise is discouraged and it's criminal. This is the way we do in Africa is a stupid excuse for perpetrating violence against innocent women and children. I will implore African countries that have not legislated this criminal act to do so and bring the perpetrators to book.
Yomi, Portugal

It is regrettable that the barbaric practice of spousal abuse can be deemed a way of life in Zambia. Nothing could be further from the truth, I am certain that a more in depth analysis would have illustrated that the vast majority of Zambian men do not condone violence against women. To us it's considered cowardice and is roundly condemned by society. Perhaps you could have asked the Victim Support Unit of Zambia Police for information to help you produce a more balanced and factual article as opposed to the sensationalism to which journalism nowadays seems sadly inclined.
Bryan Mutakasha, Lusaka, Zambia

"I have stopped hitting my wife for the sake of our boys..." Not because it is fundamentally wrong? And when your children aren't around, or have left home, that means it's acceptable to pick up where you left off? I don't see this as a redemption, unfortunately.
Claire, Brighton

Wow, this story is very deep and i am glad it has been brought to our attention...

My father often beat my mother when I was young especially when he was under the influence. When he was in those states I used to see the pure rage in his eyes as if had underlying issues with anger, maybe in his family, but my mother was also strong and would sometimes attack my father too. As a child I would jump in to stop my parents from hitting each other something which no child should ever see or hear let alone intervene. Now I am an adult in my own relationship and I have sometimes provoked my partner (who has never been violent) into being violent towards me because I guess something deep down inside of me says that that is something a man should do. Fortunately I am educated and I question why I did this, I sat down with my partner and we discussed this behaviour. It really worried me and reinforced how children learn through behaviour. My partner is extremely loving and we resolve our arguments with ought having to touch each other which in my belief is a sign of losing control of the situation! I am my partner's equal and he loves the fact that I am an independent WOMAN and not a child. But something else that worried me is when growing up I thought that all African men beat their wives. I remember asking my peers if their Dads hit their mums and I was shocked to know that not all African men hit their wives! You see what kind of impression children have? I'm pretty sure that the same practices happened when my father was growing up. I do feel that in some African cultures, including mine, that there is this ethic of discipline whether it is your wife or your child. Ultimately every relationship if different and domestic violence is a global thing with each country comes different attitudes. I really commend Ms Imboela coming out to talk about this
C, North West

You guys out there, when a wife becomes big headed (abusive, nagging you, being very irresponsible, unfaithful) do you fold your hands and start singing for her!? on a serious note you have to lightly wake her up. Ask yourselves why in the western world there are many single moms and divorced, men do not take charge of the family affairs and as a result broken homes!
Frank, Kampala

Your article seems to suggest that 'Wife Beating' is an African thing. Well it is not. It happens in the west as well. I am an African man living in the UK with his African wife; and of course we have our arguments, but even when we were in Africa, I never laid a hand on her. You know why? Cus my Dad never beat my mother, her Dad never beat her Mum, none of my friends or their parents ever do nor have they ever. So yes, it might be a problem in some parts but I doubt it's as rampant as your article suggests!
Ogbu, London UK

l am from Zimbabwe, next door to Zambia. If you beat up a woman you are going to jail, l know its the same thing in Botswana too. So l don't see what's so African about that. lf you are so strong go beat up another man and lets see what happens.
Casey, texas, usa

Both wife and husband have got a piece of their mind missing. I am a Zambian and I do not even recognise them as celebrities. Saboi's life style has been questionable with allegations that I wont go into. What these so-called celebrities need to realise is that being in the spotlight does not mean that you are free to misbehave. That's how and why they end up clobbered. And for Mwape, nowhere in the African or Zambian culture is it written that man shall beat woman. Just grow up.
Peter C. Njobvu, Lusaka, Zambia

@Kaken Badjie, Serrekunda, the Gambia: Wife beating is wife beating, no matter what mealy-mouthed justification you try to use.
SF, Perth

How about men who are beaten by their wives?
balyenge, Ndola, Zambia

Its hard to come out like the two have done it and so it takes courage to do such. I too grew up in a home where i never saw dad beat my mum but I ended up marrying a woman who unfortunately thought could challenge me and to settle things, I ended up giving her a good beating and now she respects me though am not saying that's the better way of doing things. Hence at times its not for us men to think of beating our wives but we find in situations of wanting to settle things through beating our wives.
malama moyo, lusaka

It is not a thing of a joy to see a woman being beaten up. I hate to beat a woman but to be frank with you i have done it several times with my wife simply because i could not stand her insult and in order to correct her of a lifestyle in which i think a married woman should not do for the sake of the growing children. I have made great effort to bring this lifestyle to a stop by bringing her mother, pastor and even other family members to settle the matter but to no avial. At the end of the day the marriage got spoilt and i took my children away because that was what i was fighting to correct. Will that be amounted to beating a woman when the woman is always fighting you with her hands more than a man can? In my family we don't hit a woman but i think my ex-wife has some evil spirit controlling her. Homes are broken in Ghana more than else where in Africa, what do we do to save homes and children?
Atta Adjai kofi, Ghana

I would just like to add that a lot of the problem with wife-beating here in Zambia is due to alcohol abuse. It is not simply that men beat their wives. It is that they go out and get drunk and beat their wives. My housekeeper routinely comes to work with a fat lip or a swollen eye, because her husband takes money meant to feed the family and spends it on drink. If she complains he beats her. She can't leave home because her family are too poor to take in her and her three children. So she feels she has nowhere to go. That said, there is nothing particularly African about this. I'm American and my grandfather used to do the exact same thing to my grandmother. It is a global problem and one compounded by poverty and desperation. You have more of that here in Zambia, so you see it more often, but it exists everywhere.
Anne, Lusaka, Zambia

well, wife battering is one barbaric thing which ought to have no place in this day and age. it is good to see celebrated couples come out in the open and reveal some of the past mistakes of their relationships. to a greater extent these prove to be a learning curve to a number of people about how not to act towards your partner. furthermore, i do not subscribe to the notion that this is a problem peculiar to the African man. it goes beyond that and any attempt to confine it to Africans is simply myopic and is devoid of sound reasoning. Ardent followers of the American entertainment are so very much alive to the scenario of Rihanna and Chris Brown which even led to the conviction of the latter. Women are our partners rightfully deserving every inch of respect. lets just love them more and be what we were meant to be to them. All the best to Saboi and Owas, i think they are a splendid couple.
Kambwa Aongola, Lusaka/Zambia

It freezes me when I read such cliches as 'beating women is a part of our culture, or a way to show them love'. I am European, living in a partnership with 'an African' (with a somewhat 'painful past'). Learning each other's customs with regard to family life took time, and we had also a shaky period, which resulted in violence from both sides.

I could report the incident to the police straightforward, but I decided to make use of the family bounds first - I notified my sister & mother-in-law, that we fight, and that my partner abuses his physical force. When the incident repeated after a few weeks, I contacted not the police, but a special local team of psychologists that deal with home violence without 'scaring' the violent man with direct legally determined punishment. (Aggressive people are often simply pushed to their limits and feel unsafe - this was the case here.) I can't say that our counselling resulted in complete peace straightforward, but it built up our confidence, so we don't have to rely on enforcing our points of view hectically and violently (as often both of us are right, but we would forget about it pushing the MINE-MINE point of view for the sake of winning the battle).

If there's a way out of it - speak out loud to anyone you trust that it's painful, and you can't see any 'love' in being beaten up. Look for reasons, and, for goodness sake - learn to discuss things as equal entities.

The police have to learn to give more psychological help, for both sides, instead of being a punishing force only. For us it has been more of an illness, and that's how we treated it. If the police can't help - the best help may come from other women who went through such a trauma and worked it out, similarly to 'alcoholic-anonymous' groups. This is what gives courage to stop the vicious circle, and the taboo. But - to be honest: I consulted a police officer to learn about my rights and duties (we've got such an option here in Holland: informing about a problem in contrast to reporting 'bad deeds'). Knowing that they will help me if I needed it, made me calm enough not to get into stupid, empty, useless arguments which I would take as attacks before.
Sarah, Netherlands

Your article unfortunately seems to convey (through the commentators) that wife beating is an acceptable way of life in Africa. This is not only factually incorrect but may serve to create the impression for those seeking validation that it is an acceptable practice. You need only open the papers in any country in the world to know that its a phenomenon the world over. It is not as a practice confined to race, creed or culture. The bottom line is that violence, on any level, and whether its the husband beating the wife or the other way around, is not acceptable and should never be condoned.
Nancy, Jhb, South Africa

It is amazing how people like to romanticize 'African culture'; assuming that there is such a thing in the first place. The reality is that the barbaric culture of abusing women is practiced in every corner of the world and all levels (rich or poor). This habit of sitting on a moral high ground and pointing fingers is in part a denial of the existence of the problem in one's society and underscores the complexity involved when trying to solve the problem.
Sebitosi Ben, Cape Town South Africa

I think that beating your wife is something that you should never do under any circumstances. Unless she does something wrong, in which case I think it is justified because of tradition. But these traditions are wrong, so if she complains then stop.
Olu Obang, Birmingham, UK

Have we forgotten that in England one woman a week is killed by her partner not to mention the hundreds of thousands that are assaulted daily or weekly. It is the stereotype of men as having to control women that is the cause and men feeling like they have to be in control, be strong and the only emotion they can show is anger that has brought us to this time where even in England its deemed justifiable to use violence against women in certain circumstances- as reported on the BBC last week.
Claire, Yorkshire, England

I am Zambian married man, aged 42. The issue of wife beating is not as widespread as it has been put in this article. What I have seen for Africa is that all the bad things people are made to believe that they happen only in Africa .
Nyambe Nmshanawa, Mfuwe, Zambia

Hi, I am living in vary poor country like Afghanistan that women have a lot of problem but, reading of this horrible news made me shocked. I hope women that side of the world come to sense fight with this decadency.
Lutfullah Sumeem, Herat Afghanistan

Beating women is no good thou our African culture permits us (men) to discipline our wives by doing so, yet some women if are not beaten they complain of being not 'loved' by their husbands. We have to change the habit through education at primary schools.
Valentine Ndyambi, Morogoro, Tanzania

I don't believe that domestic violence is restricted only to African countries like Zambia. In your analysis you seem to portray a perception that wife beating in Zambia is as result of some backward mentality and beliefs in both the Zambian women and men. YOU are very mistaken. Domestic violence is a world wide tragedy that many times leads to the killing of one of spouses of either gender. I have witnessed Zambian women that terrorise their husbands and what can you say about that?
Driad Sobongo, Lobatse, Botswana

It has always been like that in Zambia where wife battering is an accepted form of punishment for any small thing the woman does. I remember growing up my father raised me to be independent and whenever I would speak out against any man, my aunts and friends used to shake their heads and say, "You and your mouth, you are going to get a beating everyday from your husband" or "You will never be able to keep a man with that attitude". I witnessed it in my uncles but never with my own father. It should stop but in my opinion, women and men are both too primitive to see how stupid this thinking is. As they say "intambi nitambi" - tradition is tradition.
Naomi S, Prague, Czech Republic

It is true that wife beating is considered the 'proper way' for settling marital differences. What makes it worse is that a lot of men believe that women enjoy being hit and only respect a man who does so. I have heard many men say this, though only a few are willing to admit that they actually do it. I am yet to meet a woman who says she enjoys or expects to get hit by anyone she is in a relationship with, be it a husband or a boyfriend. There are women however, who stick it out because they believe all men hit anyway and also because they grew up in homes where their moms got hit by their dads. I grew up in a home where i never even got spanked by my parents who preferred to give a good scolding instead. And while my parents never had a smooth marriage, they never hit each other either. Perhaps as a direct result, i am as totally against this as possible and actually encouraged a friend to leave her abusive husband after 4 years of a hellish marriage. Not everybody supports me and sometimes i worry because she is having such a hard time coping by herself. But deep in my heart i know she made the right choice.
Devaan, Abuja, Nigeria

You know, spousal abuse is not just an African traditional problem, it is a global one. Even in the developed world, there are many cases of spousal abuse that go unreported for the simple reason of "economics". As in the majority of households, the breadwinners are the men, that is, husbands, many women choose to remain silent in cases of spousal abuse for fear of loosing their main source of income or livelihood.
Gloria Chinebuah, Geneva, Switzerland

beating women is not part of our live in africa, but at the same time beating is always meant to correct women especially those who are not faithful to their husbands. so not all form of beating are domestic violence. the amount of force applied during beating should be reasonable, moderate and proportional because women are humans like men.
Kaken Badjie, Serrekunda, the Gambia

"That's how you grow up in Africa," explains Mr Mwape. "To be a man, you need to discipline a woman, give her a slap or two. You know, in our culture, it's OK because that's how we feel we love our women."

Sorry Mr Mwape, that is not how we grow up in Africa. That is how uncivilised men and educated illiterates treat their spouses. My parents were married for about 50 years in Ghana before they died, both in their 70s. My dad did not believe in hitting a woman.
Isaac, Toronto, Canada

Among the Ibos in East Nigeria, when a man beats a woman married or not the extended family brothers will revenge by beating back the man. It is the responsibility of the brothers to protect their sisters. Alternatively, the woman drops the children for the man and go back to her parents for a while. Men are more dependent than women in marriage. I advice the women when beaten by their men to simply drop the children for them and go on a holidays for a while.
Sunny Ekwenugo, Berlin, Germany

As a Luo man i do not agree with people saying that wife beating is african way of life. this is what people are implicating. from my community long time ago if a husband beats his wife and she goes to her people the the husband and his relatives will go to her home. then if it is found that the husband was wrong then he will get it rough from wife side and if wife was wrong she will disciplined by her people but not beating. then she will go back her husband and life will continue. wife beating was a crime in my community even before education, christianity and islam came to Luoland.
romanus onyango, KISUMU, KENYA

Violence has no place in marriage and indeed it takes a lot to come out publicly and admit what happened to these 2 lovely people. Zambian / African culture encourages beating as a form of punishment and our police will always try and talk women from taking further action. This is wrong and should come to a stop. The bravery exhibited by this amazing couple should be emulated by all Zambians.
Aaron Sakala, Lusaka Zambia

The issue of domestic violence against women in Africa is totally caused by our culture and our acceptance that women are subordinates in the home, as a result men, even ones without jobs or any source of income still bask in the euphoria of being the superior one and can show superiority by hitting or raping the woman. As a woman of African origin, I once dated a Nigerian man who hit me. When I told him I was leaving him as a result, he begged and told me that was his way of showing me love. How sick! I accepted and went on with the relationship until an ambulance came to pick me up from his house one day. That was the turning point for me. Do I have any regrets? Yes...that I stayed with that man for that long, what if I had died! This a call to all women, get out now.
kemi, london, uk

While Africa is a patriarchal continent it is very misleading to say as in the article that wife beating is acceptable and part of African custom. I am West African from the Yoruba speaking part of Nigerian and in my particular culture Wife beating is frowned upon and considered taboo, a man that assaults his wife is not respected and seen as less of a man by both families. You will find that practices in Africa differ significantly depending on the part of the continent you are in.
Olu Haastrup, Stevenage



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Country profile: Zambia
22 Jan 11 |  Country profiles

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