Back in the days, a woman was expected to stay in her marriage irrespective of the difficulties which sometimes included abuse both verbal and physical. It was a sacred institution.
And due to the male dominated world women were always blamed for collapse of marriages despite the circumstances that could have led to the breakdown.
They were often blamed for choosing themselves over the union.
The society blames divorced women more than men because of the mind-set that has been moulded for several decades by generations gone by.
When a marriage comes to an end, the society believes that the lives of the children is always in danger because they will be nurtured separately. Society sees marriage as a respectable box that once entered in, both women and men should not come out of.
It is due to such beliefs that some women and men choose not to leave their shattered unions due to the fear of how they will be judged and seen by society.
In this edition, in an interview with Woman, several divorcees reveal their personal marital woes that called for divorce. These women are familiar with all the cruelty divorce is embraced with.
Early in her marriage, divorce was not part of Aziza’s vocabulary. She did not think of it because she did not have an ounce of experience at the time. Her marriage was a wild range of happy emotions until things took an unexpected turn.
“My marriage, like many, started off on a beautiful note. We loved each other and there were no signs of an end for us. After seven years, his relatives started interfering in our marriage saying I was not the perfect wife for my now ex-husband and I expected him to come to my defence, no questions asked, because I thought that’s what love was about, but little did I know,” she narrates.
After eight years, her ex-husband filed for divorce. Seeing it as a heavy decision to make on her own, Aziza decided to call for a meeting with her parents, hoping for a reconciliation between them. The meeting ended in an agreement that Aziza and her ex-husband should part ways and share the assets accumulated within the marriage.
“That was when all hell broke loose. Despite the fact that almost everything we owned was earned from both of our sweat and hard work, my ex-husband did not want an equal separation and his disagreement took us 9 years in different courtrooms fighting for an equal and deserved separation of properties,” she recalls.
“During that time and now, the amount of learning and unlearning I have had to do has been beyond my expectations. I have learned that being married does not guarantee happiness even though society says differently. I have also been keen with myself as well as my daughter because those are things that I will forever cherish and prioritize,” she says.
Aziza explains that when a woman is divorced, the society points its fingers at her claiming that she could not maintain her marriage rather than helping her see that divorce is not the end of life.
In 1997, Halima used to work upcountry and a year later she relocated to Dar es Salaam to be with her now ex-husband at Kibaha. While he has four children, Halima has three, making it a family of nine people. After they started living under one roof, a house they built together working different jobs to earn a living, the two were also saving money and Halima had a habit of keeping her money in different hideouts in the house.
She started noticing her money missing and when she set up multiple traps, Halima found out that one of her ex-husband’s child was taking the money.
One day, he had travelled for work to Dodoma and asked Halima to send him about Sh80,000 from his piggybank through one of his friends who was supposed to pick the money up later on that day. She took the amount and hid it in a place nearby only to find it gone a few minutes afterwards. When she asked all of the children including hers, they all denied but they were unaware that their aunt who was visiting saw the thieves.
“When I told him that his money was unknowingly stolen, he came back home. Once he arrived, I advised that we interrogate all of the children with the intent to catch the responsible ones. He boiled water and made all of the children dip their hands in it and kept questioning them ‘who took the money?’ the children’s cries filled the room,” she winced as the words make her relive the horrible moment.
“When I saw how they reacted, I asked him to stop the inhumane interrogation, he refused. I afterwards told him that his children were the ones responsible, they were the ones who deserved to be punished, not mine, those words alone made him give me the beating of a lifetime that left me with multiple scars on my body,” she narrates.
Halima reported him to the police and he was put in custody for the night. After some time passed, she forgave him and this was the ticket to a more abusive relationship with him, filled with adultery and mistreatment.
“After years of all of that, I decided to choose myself and my children so I filed for a divorce. We started doing court rounds for the properties we co-owned during our marriage,” she says.
When her society and relatives learned about the divorce, some blamed her for breaking her marriage while others understood and supported her.
Halima says that of all the things she learned about divorce, one that stands out is women should learn to draw a line when it comes to patience in marriage.
Vicky met her ex-husband when she came to visit her brother in Dar es Salaam. The two hit it off when they connected at her brother’s shop in which she was the salesperson.
“When I visited his place and found out that he was wealthy, I was convinced that his future was promising and that his plans aligned perfectly with mine. I was 28-years-old at the time and I was looking for someone to settle and start a family with so he so looked and sounded like the perfect fit,” she narrates.
The first years of marriage were the definition of perfection and later on, he started to change. He started keeping and doing things without her knowledge. He would open a new shop, plan for a new house without her knowing. He then told her to quit her teaching job with the promise that he would be paying her a monthly salary, a promise he kept for three months.
“When I quit my job, my ex-husband was also supposed to cover all the household expenses but he started leaving random amounts of money that could not feed the whole house. There were times he would leave me with Sh2500 and other times he would just disappear for an indefinite amount of time. It reached a point my children had to quit school because I had no means of paying for school fees and he did not want to. When I questioned him, his violent personality was activated. It all became too much. I could not keep living like that,” she says.
She then found out that he was sleeping around with almost every woman in their neighbourhood including the maid in her own house, it all became unbearable. He then told her not to visit his workplace.
“One day I popped up at his shop and I found him with this beautiful woman inside his shop, when our eyes met, I knew I had to go back home before he unleashed his violent side right there. When he came back, I was beaten and was unconscious for seven days. That was it for me,” she recalls.
While there are times she was tried to get back with him under the disguise of second chances, she says that she forgot herself in the midst of it all and that it took some time to connect with herself again.
“With my divorce, I have learned that women have prejudicial kindness towards situations and people,” she explains