Monday, February 4, 2013

'I'm A Free Woman Now' Says Isatou

In patriarch Gambia where women are traditionally viewed as an inferior sex always domestic violence perpetrator go free because of the dispaly of their socalled good manners in public.
Binta A Bah looks back at the story of Isatou who was 19 when she submitted to a forced marriage and how she manage to divorced from that husband. Daily News is not using the really name of the victim as requested and therefore is here using Isatou instead.
Back in January last year, Daily New's women's weekly column “Musulutaa”ran a story title 'from prison Isatou enters a battlefield' in that publication Isatou describe her story as 'tragic' because it's very common for young abused women to tolerate and keep quite over such abuses.

And going submissive and not saying anything during the act is also common. She was among thousands of women who face domestic violence on a daily basis.
Her marriage was arranged with a man she had never set her eyes on before. All that her father told her about the said husband was that he met the man at an Islamic conference. Isatou suffered a lot in the hands of this man she called husband. The suffrages went on for two good years before she could manage a divorce.
Its 9am in Brikama marrket, the capital of the Western Region, where a large group of people are standing to get themselves food from Isatou's restaurant.
'I’m an independent woman now' she said proudly. Isatou who would not have been at the restaurant when the force marriage were still on said “I have struggle a long time for this to happen but my ex-husband would never granted me the permission rather he would scold me for even going to the next door” Isatou said
"I was shock to see my ex-husband's real character and behavior. He was jealous and raised his hands all the time and physically abuses me” Isatou said
At one moment, she realised there was something wrong and she needed to seek help as soon as possible to be a better woman, a woman with dignity. Luckily for her, there was a fantastic female nurse she went to the very next day when her ex-husband went to work.
'I continued that for about two months and told her how my husband has treated me since we got married. One thing that she said to me was to confront the reality. "What happened to you was not your fault. You had way of preventing it from happening. The Women' Act protect and empower you in many ways. You can only control how you let those actions affect you by knowing your rights "
"I keep thinking how I could go out of the house without being blame because I know what my family would be thinking about me".
In September of that year, I got a divorce after I confronted my ex-husband and told him she is aware of her Women's Act, which grantee me right to life and protection. "I told him that I have the right to divorce and I can take legal actions against him for all he did"
"I think that the two years I was with him was definitely the hardest years I've ever had to face, emotionally but now on most days I'd be fine and go about my business" she said.
When I asked her how did the people in her life responded when she told them about this she said her father told her not to returned to his house if she divorced her husband. "But I am extremely fortunate to have so many supporting people in my life. My biggest pillar of strength was definitely my mother and a nurse friend. They are always there to support me, listen to my side of the story, or simply hold me when I cry"
For her, now everything is over. She had a successful business and does not have to be back to serve food or to be slapped for serving the food at a particular time."I have lot of customers and everything is going well for me and I wish no woman should stay in marriage like the one I was before' she said
Author: Binta A Bah

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