Few weeks ago, a woman activist by the name Seodi White was all over the media lambasting President Joyce Banda for politely offering unsolicited advice to married women in Malawi. The so called activist shamelessly deuced President Banda of advocating for patriarchal culture in a democratic country.
To sober minded people including women, saw nothing wrong in the president’s motherly advice apart from few individuals who may have grudges against her. The president while wishing women to keep their families intact and loving advised them not to be unreasonably rude to their husbands. She clearly stated that when they are advised to be rude to their husbands by women activists, the first thing they should reflect on is to find out if such activist still has her marriage in place.
Seodi White took it upon herself in the name of activism and accused the president of disdaining divorced women. She (Seodi) stated that she is happily divorced. Mmmmmm, I was really troubled with this and kept wondering if there is such a thing as happily divorced. If one is happily divorced, why did she in the first place enter into marriage?
There is nothing like happily divorced but rather unhappily married in some circumstances such as forced marriages or an abusive ones. Even women who are abused by their husbands happily entered into marriage if it was not as a result of forced or unplanned marriages. Women who are abused get out of marriage unhappily because they still wish they were married if it was not for an abuse.
It was shocking to many sober minded people to hear that one was happily divorced. One keeps wondering, did they hug, shake hands, bid farewell, exchanged kisses, distributed cards to hold a party, invited a church minister to de-officiate or whatever you may attach to celebrate their separation? Thank God the president did not respond knowing that she did not attribute her advice to Seodi White or any other woman specified. She expressed democratic rule to some extent.
Jessie Kabwila also echoed her voice in support of Seodi. This was not the first time these women turned against President Banda, you know that. While in some instances their interventions were reasonable, this one was childish or let me say, they were guilty of telling married women to be rude to their husbands, no wonder many women ruined their marriages even to humble, loving and innocent husbands for being ill-advised.
Seodi White has helped many women get out of abusive marriage, but I am ignorant if she has helped any woman enter into a happy marriage.
While I condemn, Seodi’s reactions towards Banda’s advice, the President should have extended her advice to men so that they are responsible enough, not to look at women as inferiors or goalkeepers, not to abuse them, but rather respecting them as companions for without them a man in incomplete as per biblical perspective.
My reference to Seodi White is coming as a result of a gang rape of a 22 year old man by unknown women who also drew his sperms for the reason well known to them. In most cases, the world has seen men as abusive and unheeded what some men undergo in the hands of roughshod women.
This incident is not only shocking but also a wakeup call, telltaling that there are many men who are maltreated by women but they are shamefully silent. It is high time we put up men’s rights groups/organisations which will address the agony men go through in their marriages and other places. A good number of men are dying in silence because of fear of being construed as weak. In a case where a man report an abusive wife to the police, the police officers just laugh off and offer no help. Some women deny their husbands food if he is unemployed, don’t need to see a husband’s relative step in their homes but of her side, demands more than what a husband can offer at times, pour hot water on him or beat him just as any other barbarous husband does, but all these are overshadowed but women’s activism. Aren’t they abuses?
There are many groups in our country which are set to promote the girl’s rights, education, economy and many others but a blind eye and deaf ear has been set on a boy child. The president has been trotting the world to seek funds to promote girl’s child education and she has come up with many programmes on a girl child to the point that boys are wondering if they are still part of Malawi or in the mind of the government led by a woman. Many rights organisations and bills are set and established in favour of a girl child instead of balancing.
Who will speak for a boy child? Promoting girls’ and women’s rights should not mean snubbing the boy’s and men’s problems but rather balancing them. When a man/boy abuses a girl/woman, the activists are all over making noise to defend their gender but when it is otherwise, even the policemen ignore them.
Now a man is lying critically sick in Salima hospital, where is men’s mouthpiece? Seodi White, where are you? Or does it mean that you have nothing to do with men’s misfortunes? If it was a woman, suspects would have been arrested already but because it is a man very few are interested to help. Why is it that men are needed when a woman faces insecurity but when she is confortable, he becomes impertinent? Sometimes I wonder and fear that the world is set to finish men and create environment suitable for women only.
Human rights activism must balance the two. The problem is that even men are not there for each other but rather against each other in support of cruel women. I am not supporting men who abuse women but rather promoting equality in dealing with issues of abuse.
Men need women and so too women. It is high time we remembered that men and women should coexist in diversity and regardless of one’s gender, let people be at peace with each other. Promotion of one gender’s rights is a promotion of a hostile environment for the other.
The unfortunate part of it is also that if these women are caught, they will be treated with kids gloves while when it was men, the long hand of the law would have been fully extended. I cry and say who will promote men’s rights in a feminist world?
Robert Msikamu (Public Advisor)
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