|Commentary: A hidden problem in Mozambique|
A UMNS Commentary
By Maria Helena Feluane*
Oct. 23, 2007
Domestic violence is an issue that affects me, my family and society in general, particularly women and children in Mozambique.
Maria Helena Feluane
Recently a friend called me at my office crying for help. I could not
even understand what she was saying. I let her cry until she calmed
She said, "I want to die; I have suffered enough in this world. It
would be better to leave to another place where I will be in peace and
justice. I am tired of being beaten all the time with no reason. I try
all my best to make my husband happy, but nothing I do pleases him. I
can't stand it anymore."
I tried to calm her down and rushed to her house to give her my
shoulder and to listen. As soon as I arrived, she started telling me her
"I was beaten just because he did not find me at home," she said. "He
says that I must not work outside home, but at the same time he does
not give me enough money to feed the family. When I ask money for the
home expenses, he insults me saying, I'm a beetle that lives by sucking
"He keeps reminding me that I am not educated, so even if I think of
asking for a divorce, I will suffer more because I will not be able to
find a job to survive, and I will lose the right of staying with my
"He likes sex when I do not feel like it. He forces me. He says that
he had paid my lobolo (a bride price, paid to the father of the bride),
and I might be seeing someone else."
I could see she was wounded. She did not want to show me her wound in
her left arm. She had tried to bandage it and put on a long-sleeved
blouse before I arrived, but the wound was fresh. She was bleeding.
I asked her to go to the hospital for treatment. But she said, "If I
go to the hospital, they will ask me why I am injured. I am afraid to
tell them that I was injured by my husband. They may arrest him. His
family will accuse me of sending their relative to jail, and my children
will suffer more than they are now. Besides all this, I love my
husband. I don't want to see him in jail."
A hidden problem
Domestic violence is a serious and hidden social problem. Violence
and abuse within families has major ramifications for all those
All use of violence is unacceptable and prohibited under Mozambican
law and represents a violation of fundamental human rights. Every effort
must be made to prevent and combat such actions.
"Many women believe their spouses have the right to beat them, and cultural pressures discourage women from taking action."
-Maria Helena Feluane
In Mozambique, for example, there are many causes of domestic
violence starting from lack of respect of people, particularly of men
for women. Abuse also stems from alcohol abuse and infidelity, lack of
civic education, few opportunities for girls' education, economic
disadvantages for men and women and cultural realities.
The story reported above is one of many. The effects are so dramatic
and sometimes lead to death. Although many people are concerned with
this malicious trend, we are still far from overcoming this issue.
Many women believe their spouses have the right to beat them, and
cultural pressures discourage women from taking action. Most of them
fear reprisals from their men and family. Others fear embarrassment.
Other reasons for not reporting are poverty, ignorance of the law and
not knowing where to report and what to do.
The church's role
The Women's Coalition (government, civic society and churches) is
working in establishing domestic violence as grounds for divorce. And we
are advocating for new legislation to criminalize spousal abuse as well
as pushing for additional legislation to be added to the family law
with domestic violence at the forefront of its agenda.
The United Methodist Church, the Women's Division in particular, and
the social action committee are actively participating with
non-governmental organizations seeking to sponsor educational campaigns
on domestic violence for women in vulnerable communities.
One of our plans in The United Methodist Church is to provide
training in advocacy and community building to increase awareness of
domestic violence and prevention through changes in attitudes, helped by
the other church organizations (men and young adults).
In order to break the spiral of violence, a project to strengthen
treatment programs for perpetrators must be designed and implemented in
*Feluane works in the Mozambique Annual (regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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