Gender based violence is a reality worldwide. In Zimbabwe, about 1 in 3 women aged 15 to 49 have experienced physical violence and about 1 in 4 women have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15. Some women get to report or tell their experiences, but most never get to because of flaws in the justice system and fear of being stigmatised in their communities. In this series, photographer, Kresiah Mukwazhi documents stories of two domestic violence survivors and offers a brief narration of their stories.
Elizabeth Mudzamba, Survivor and Social champion.
Elizabeth Mudzamba is a single mother whose journey through marriage and divorce left her emotionally scarred, poverty stricken and socially isolated. The challenge of recovering from the effects of divorce, raising two children, coping with rejection and isolation, bitterness and failure in trying times opened her inner eyes on how difficult it is for women to cope after divorce. She is an inspiration to many that one may be abused by her spouse and even divorced but still has hope to be a powerful woman. I photographed her with her late sister’s child Maxine. Elizabeth adopted Max after her sister had cardiac arrest and left her when she was only six days old. Elizabeth is not only a survivor of gender based violence but also a founder of an organisation called Bridge Of Hope, whose mission is to ‘identify, nurture and utilise profitably untapped potential, passion, talent and skill in the under privileged and marginalised vulnerable people of society especially women and children in prison, rural areas and the streets’’.Martha Phiri, Married at 16
I didn’t plan on stumbling upon a story like Martha’s. The plan was to spend the day observing and working on a totally different documentary which I had begun doing in there in Hopely farm. I was sitting at a tuck-shop with a couple of women, one of them a community advisor. Martha came and greeted her, then they engaged in a brief conversation. From what I picked from their conversation, I could not help asking if she was really married and to my surprise Tracey* the community advisor, confirmed that she was indeed living with her husband. I became curious about what led to this surprising situation and asked further about Martha. I was fortunate to have her allow me into her space where she lives and I got to sit down with her and she shared her story with me.
Martha Phiri is a young girl aged 16. She stopped going to school when she was in form two after her father refused to pay for her school fees. Martha now lives with her husband aged 20 in a shared squatter space in Hopely Farm. Martha’s father was abusive verbally to both her and her mother, occasionally calling them names and at times beating up her mother. She has been living with her husband for four months now after her father sent her away. What broke her heart the most, was that her father claimed she was not his daughter, therefore, he refused to take the responsibility of taking her to school or even providing basic things like clothing her. A survivor of Gender based violence that has sadly become a victim of early child marriage. How can we protect children from abusive fathers?
All images taken by Kresiah Mukwazhi.