Domestic Violence: It’s literally next door…
February 28, 2013 § 7 Comments
I was getting Nathaniel ready for school when I overheard our neighbors fighting. One of the children was being beaten and I heard every punch, kick, and scream. It was horrible to witness the sounds. I yelled for them to stop but to no avail.
They were over our 10 foot tall wall fence and I tried to climb a chair but couldn’t reach a height to see and stop them. I even heard one of the parents present who also did nothing to stop it. Unfortunately, Nathaniel had to hear some of it as well and kept talking about the baby crying.
I wish I could say this is rare but being beaten is a common problem in Zambia. Culturally, it’s seen as an appropriate form of punishment if someone doesn’t like an opinion, action, or refusal of another party. Women and children are the unfortunate ones to receive most of the beatings. Although there have been multiple campaigns from government and NGOs against domestic violence, it’s difficult to change an entire culture of violence against the weak, including sexual abuse of minors and the disabled, rape, and multiple forms of violent punishment. There are also few repercussions for the guilty parties. The police do not come for a domestic violence incident. Even neighbors such as myself are in a difficult place to stop the violence. There is an idea that the parents are the one to decide what is and is not an appropriate punishment for their children.
Later in the day, I visited the family to greet them and see if I could find out what happened. I was able to offer some assistance and at least understand more of what was going on in the family, even if I couldn’t change most of the circumstances.
Things need to change in Zambia. Churches need to teach men how to lead their families as servants, not as kings. Women need to be taught about what is and is not OK in a relationship and have safe places to go. Children and the disabled should be protected by churches, relatives, neighbors, and the government with punishments for the abusers.