HARARE – Since time immemorial marriage has always obligated a woman to move into theman’s home, have children and stay at home while her husband provides for the family.
This traditional concept of marriage is now under threat. Thanks to the reversal of gender roles, women are increasingly becoming family breadwinners.
Not surprisingly, men, who are no longer being treated as “gods” because they have lost their financial clout, are not happy with this new arrangement.
This reversal of gender roles has therefore come at a heavy cost for some. According to legislator Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga exchanged gender roles have made women more prone to abuse.
“Women are being accused of being involved in extra-marital affairs. The African man can’t accept the shift of roles in the home – changing diapers, cooking while the woman is away at work and that is a problem that we are facing at the moment,” remarked the legislator.
In the past, the traditional concept of marriage remained intact, to a large extent, because women stayed in abusive marriages to protect their “dignity” in society.
But due to encouragement from women rights organisations, many women now have the courage to quit abusive marriages.
The church, which stands accused of over-hyping marriage to the point of making it seem like the biggest achievement a girl can attain, concedes that gender-based violence is on the rise.
Clergymen, however, accuse women rights organisations of demeaning the marriage institution.
Several church leaders who spoke to the Daily News on Sunday attributed conflict in most marriages to the misconception about the woman’s place in a marriage.
Bishop Rojas Jeff, who leads Tabernacle of Worship Ministries International, said according to the Bible, a woman is supposed to be a helper to her male partner.
“The Bible is clear. It says the woman is a helper; not only within the sexual context, but also economically and in terms of the well-being of the family.
“The Bible says two is better than one; a woman can also bring income into the home. It is not supposed to be a competition,” said the Bishop adding:
“It is unfortunate that sometimes the devil blinds the husband, so that he does not recognise the importance or significance of the helper. She has been seen as a sexual object, and that’s when gender violence emanates.”
Rojas said marriage should be a celebrated blessing and must be valued. “Marriage has been a blessing since time immemorial, in the garden of Eden. In the church I am always preaching against gender-based-violence.
The message has always been Zero Tolerance to gender violence. “But these women rights organisations seen to be demeaning the marriage institution; it seems they are doing so as part of an agenda to attract donor funding. They are donor-funded to perpetuate their goals.
“They should strike a balance in terms of reconciling … we are not saying women should stay in abusive marriages, but Mwari vanoda kuti vanhu vagarisane (It is God’s desire for marriages to stay intact).
Yes some couples are incompatible but allow them to make the decision to part ways on their own,” he said.
Ephias Jengeta of Family Worship Tabernacle Ministries International, told the Daily News on Sunday that although men and women are equal beings, the male is superior in a marriage set up.
“There can never be equality in the marriage institution. God said `Man love your woman and woman submit yourself. There is no clarification as to whether the woman who should submit herself is a professional or the housewife,” he said.
Jengeta added that modern women are refusing to submit to their husbands due to the economic power they now wield.
“If married, a woman is expected to submit herself to her husband. The problem is women tend to use the dollar power. Many times this has led to divorce, disintegration and it’s not worth it.
“A woman is a man’s helper, no matter how powerful she is. If she is earning good money, we praise God that she is able to help her husband to take care of the family. If she has no money then the job she is doing of taking care of the home and the children is a very great role. A woman is there to give direction; God said a woman should submit to her husband.
“A man should know that he is an equal being to his wife but in the home it should be known that the husband is the head,” he said.
Jengeta stressed the importance of finding the right partner in marriage, noting that it was wrong to view all men in the negative.
“One can never produce what they are not made of. If you are bitter from a failed marriage, your sentiments about the marriage institution will always be bitter. It’s not true that all men are dogs,” he said.
Bulawayo Polytechnic principal Gilbert Mabasa said marriage is a life commitment that comes with its own challenges.
“Marriage is not for entertainment or appeasement. Marriage is a relationship for companionship in life and for life. It was instituted by God as a way for God to make good that which he had.
“A woman was created as part of God’s corrections of his first creation. It is therefore natural that, in such a scenario, challenges and setbacks are part of the process,” said Mabasa. ffffffffffffff