Religious practises that deter women’s freedom: Village head Nyamadzawo stepping up!!

A village head of Mafararikwa community (Noah Mafararikwa) usually referred to sabhuku Nyamadzawo as one of the traditional leaders who whole-heartedly committed to work towards achieving gender equality through accepting and involving women and girls in their societal norms and practises. He is part of SAfAIDS Irish Aid Community for Gender Transformation program (CGTF) and he hopes to see his community understanding cultural and religious practises that perpetuate the abuse of women and girls.

Mafararikwa community is consumed with Johanne Marange apostolic religious practise, which is one of the biggest churches in Zimbabwe with more than 10 million followers. The Johanne Marange religious practise sees no harm in polygamy where young girls are married off to the church elders and to serve their husbands submissively. The intervention of the SAfAIDS Community for gender norms transformation programme impressed village head Nyamadzawo and pushed him to bring change in his community.

‘’SAfAIDS and its partner DOMCAP did a very good job in introducing a wonderful programme, which enlightened most men in my community. We used to be unaware of the crimes that we committed, for instance forcing my wife to have sex with me when she is not feeling it, and economically abusing my wife by not supporting her financially. I now feel burdened by the things l used to do and l am doing my best to please my wife. l now accept that l was biased when solving domestic issues during our traditional courts. l always turned a blind eye to women reporting their side of the story. ’Do what your husband tells you, he is the man of the house’ was my response always. I was deeply rooted in the belief that all wives have to surrender themselves to their husbands without grieving. Because I had paid dowry, I believed women had to be submissive to their husbands. To me they were just commodities traded for money. I am happy that I now know women have their rights too and are free to exercise them. A real man consults his wife for ideas on any family issues to discuss as a couple. The SAfAIDS programme opened my eyes to understand issues of child marriages and Gender Based Violence in the homes. Convincing people is not a stroll in the park but it takes determination to reach and transform them.’’