… when women kill their husbands
Something curious is happening in Zambia. An increasing number of women have begun to kill off their husbands, or at least it seems so, based on the media coverage. This week, Jacqueline Mwiindwa, 36, appeared in court for murdering her husband in Lusaka when driving off with their children after an argument about custody. The husband had clung to the car as she sped off. In addition, Meya Nanfukwe, 21, was arrested for killing her husband with a knife after a quarrel, also in Lusaka.
Our newly appointed gender minister, Victoria Kalima, immediately blamed the women, stating “the increased number of women killing men (…) shows that women are not getting the right training before marriage”, but did add that married couples should receive training on how to resolve differences. I think something big is at play here!
Imagine a couple arguing. In the not so distant past, the man could end the argument by asserting his dominance, not stopping short of beating up his wife or raping her. Only about a decade ago, the Zambia Demographic and Health Survey 2007 showed that 61.9% of women aged 15-49 in Zambia agreed that a husband may hit his wife for specific reasons, including burning the food, arguing, going out without telling him, neglecting the children, or refusing to have sex. However, many women in urban areas in particular will no longer accept such treatment.
Gender roles are in fluid development in Zambia, and women are obviously the first to embrace their newfound freedoms, while men are less enthusiastic about seeing their dominance waning. This can make for some nasty domestic arguments. If submitting to a physical husband no longer seems an option, what else can a woman do but fight back? Unfortunately, women cannot be de-developed – and they shouldn’t. Everyone agrees that gender equality is key to development in Zambia, so Kalima had better ensure that men are also getting the right ‘training’ before marriage. They need to learn that their wives cannot be coerced into submission.
Camilla Hebo Buus, Editor Zambia Weekly