This week Correspondent Gerald Kitabu interviewed Jamila Juma, a resident of Mbenje village, Namhanga ward, Ulanga district, who was been seriously beaten and wounded by her husband. Excerpts:
Question: I can see you with serious wounds, what happened?
Answer: I was beaten by my husband for hours on Sunday night. He picked up firewood we had placed near the kitchen and hit me hard on the head. Immediately I started bleeding and fell down unconscious. He ran away as he thought I had died. When I woke up, I found myself alone.
There was nobody to rescue me. Apart from bleeding, my fingers and hands had been broken. He had also caused serious injuries on my body.
Q: Why were you beaten like that?
A: At first we were living peacefully. His behaviour changed when he got another woman. He developed a tendency of beating me every now and then. We decided to separate. After separating he abandoned me and my two-year-old daughter, Mary. I started my own projects to make ends meet. As days went on, my husband would ask his woman to enter my home and steal flour or rice when I am not at home.
At first, I thought it was my neighbours who were stealing the flour. It was my husband. When I am absent, he would ask his woman to enter my house and steal rice or flour. As if that was not enough, my husband himself would enter my house and take away whatever he found.
He would go and eat with his woman. One day, I had gone to the farm as usual. When I came back, I found my husband had stolen my flour and rice. When I asked him, he started beating me saying I was not grateful to him because he had done a lot in my life including marrying me from Rukwa region where I would have been in the bush.
Q: When did you separate?
A: We separated in May last year. Since then, everyone is living alone. My husband started living with another woman and I started engaging in small income-generating activities such as agriculture and making local brew. When I prepare local brew, I would sell and get money for myself and feed my daughter. My husband is lazy.
Q: When you ask him, what does he say?
A: He only abuses me several times saying I am not grateful to him. He says I cannot even appreciate his efforts of marrying me from the bush in Sumbawanga and bringing me in town. He says he must torture me because if it was not him, I wouldn’t have seen a town.
Q: So, what did you do?
A: I reported the incident at Lupiro police station where I obtained PF3 before proceeding to the hospital where I was attended to. The nurses dressed my wounds and referred me to Ifakara Hospital for more examination. However, I didn’t go to Ifakara because I had no money.
I expected that the police would arrest him and ask him to provide me money for treatment. But that did not happen. Instead they gave me a letter to take it to the village chairman. They said the village chairman should read it to him.
When the village chairman read it to him, he did not listen, he ignored it. After seeing that, I went back to the police station to report. The police gave me another letter to take it to the village secretary but again, he did not adhere. When the police gave me the third letter, the village secretary and chairman refused to receive it instead they asked me why is it that the police were sending so many letters instead of arresting him.
Q: Do you mean until now he has not been arrested?
A: Until yesterday he was still free loitering in the village but today someone has told me that he has been arrested. I am not sure if justice would be done because if you want to win a case in this area, you must have enough money and this is why many women are severely beaten and injured but no action is taken against the perpetrators of such cruel acts.
Q: So, what are your views?
A: The government should provide legal aid to rural women especially those who live in remote areas. We are in trouble with our husbands. They treat us like animals. For example, few years ago, my husband used to beat me severely and tie me on a tree like goat. He would tie me with ropes and go away for several hours. I would cry and cry but without help.