A pastor stabs his wife in church; a wife slits her husband’s tummy open, another cuts her husband’s genitals, such is the bizarre world of married couples today.
In an institution where couples are supposed to live happily thereafter, all seems to be falling apart and it is not a happy place to be anymore. In Tanzania, one third of the population is married. In the 2012-2015 period, 232,000 people were separated and 716,000 were divorced. The number is said to have doubled, according to the National Panel Survey of Tanzania 2014-2015, Wave 4.
In 2018, The Citizen published an article that Zanzibar’s House of Representatives heard that in 2017 alone there were a total of 1,218 cases of divorce in the isles.
The causes ranged from financial stress, infidelity to domestic violence. This has been in conjunction with acts of gender based violence in the country.
Statistics from the Social Welfare Department show that in Arusha region, a total of 427 acts of violence against women and girls, were recorded between July and September, 2019.
Nevertheless, Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey (TDHS) 2015/16 shows that 17 per cent of Tanzanian women aged 15–49 have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime, and 40 per cent reported having experienced physical violence.
The TDHS also shows that 50 per cent of ever-married women had experienced physical, sexual, or emotional violence from an intimate partner.
A pastor from The Power of God church, Prophet Richard Sanga says that many married couples fail to stay in marriage because of marrying for the wrong reasons.
Speaking with Life&Style, the prophet said, “Most people enter into marriage with reasons that may get them out of it just as fast as they got in. Most get hitched because of money, being scared about the age timeline, lust and marriage outbursts, sex and intimacy and many other wrong reasons.”
Despite there being social and emotional pressure for marriage, many people are now questioning the marriage institution because of the many absurd incidences that have been rising throughout the years.
What once seemed like everyone was envious about, is now an institution that people are scared of.
Mary Peter, a single young woman says she has grown wary over the thought of marriage, because people ‘change’ after entering the institution.
She says, “I used to be envious of my parents’ marriage while growing up and wished one day I would get married and create my own family, but the recent violence incidences in marriage have scared me,” says Mary.
She would rather date someone for as long as 10 years than get married and end up dead - in a casket.
Prophet Sanga seems to agree with Mary as he says if couples haven’t agreed on similar characteristics and things that will keep them together in the long run, fights and disruption of peace would be inevitable.
Violence in marriage reached its peak last year with many cases rising of couples harming and even killing each other. In July 2019, Khamis Lwoga, a resident of Kigamboni was held by the police for killing his wife Naomi Marijani. He allegedly burnt her body and later buried her remains on their farm in Mkuranga, Coast Region.
The two are said to have been having a long time misunderstanding until the wife mysteriously disappeared from their home.
Another incidence that was also reported in the media is that of a 38-year-old man, Salum Kondo from Bagamoyo who was imprisoned for murdering his 27-year-old wife, Mwajuma Omary because of jealousy.
It was reported that the couple had a misunderstanding due to the husband forcibly taking his wife’s ATM card and withdrawing Shs50,000 without her permission.
If you think women are not capable of engaging in such evil acts, you are wrong. Women too are not left behind when it comes to gender-based violence. They too are culprits in some of the cases.
A woman from Kisabe Village, in Chato District in Geita Region killed her husband by driving a knife in his throat and later on killing herself by stabbing herself in the stomach.
In Mtwara Region, another woman named Sophia Salehe murdered her husband, Ahmed Salim by stabbing him with a knife in his stomach. Her husband had requested her to cook food for him because he wasn’t satisfied with the food she had given him.
In Morogoro, Boniface Agustino was brutally murdered by his wife who hit him on the head with a hard object. Jealousy was cited as the cause of the murder.
A neighbour who witnessed the incidence said they heard cries of help from the couple’s room, before the incident happened.
Given the current alarming state of passion killings in the country, we sought the opinion of a couple who have been married for over two decades to find out what they think could be the remedy.
Mr and Mrs Mgaya from Dar es Salaam let us into the secret of a successful marriage. Having been married for 23 years now, Mr and Mrs Mgaya believe that most people resort to violence because of jealousy outbursts and miscommunication amongst themselves. “We have been married for almost 23 years now and what I can say is that marriage is not as easy as people think. There will always be ups and downs in the marriage, but perseverance is needed to overcome them,” says Mrs Mgaya.
She shares that communication is the very first thing that has made their marriage successful. “We tell each other everything, hence there is no room for jealousy whatsoever. Young couples should learn to practice transparency,” advises Mrs Mgaya.
Prophet Sanga explains what the marriage institution is supposed to be like. He tells Life&Style that a good marriage union first has to be from God with a partner that is rightfully from God.
The prophet says that God plays a big part in helping us choose the right partners if at all we involve him, as the bible even instructs us to ‘not mix darkness with light. He adds; “Marriage union must come from God and so should a marriage partner. God is the only one who started this institution and he knows who is the right person to marry.”
He says marriage is meant to be an institution for two people to leave their parents’ house, join together, form a family and help each other in building it in peace, harmony and prayer. Marriage is a place of peace, not of harm. Without these, it is bound to break.
The question is, what leads couples to take such extreme measures like murder as a way to resolve their marital problems?
The Prophet argues that if couples don’t agree on a similar purpose, life and vision, they won’t be able to live together. Indeed oil can never mix with water. He goes on to insist that people should never enter into the marriage institution if they are unsure whether their partner is the right one for them because doing so could have major consequences such as death. Whether marriage is still a safe institution to go into or not is still a mystery as each marriage is unique, depending on the people in it, their family backgrounds, characters, hobbies and even interpersonal factors.
Although violence in marriage has been on the rise, those who made the right choices like Mr and Mrs Mgaya are still enjoying the fruits of this beautiful institution.