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Patriarchy weighs down on women with disabilities

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Patriarchy weighs down on women with disabilities

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Sydney Mubaiwa
MIDLANDS BUREAU


GWERU – The patriarchal nature of the Zimbabwean society is one of the biggest factors weighing down on women living with disabilities, Nyasha Mahwende, the director of the Disability Voices of Zimbabwe has said.
Mahwende told The Mirror in an interview that women under Zimbabwean culture are valued according to the amount of domestic chores they perform for the family and their husbands.
Unscrupulous men also use women living with disabilities for rituals, added Mahwende.
Another burden and a humiliating one is that women with disabilities have to depend on others for their private health issues and hygiene including managing menstrual periods.
She called upon society to support women living with disabilities.
“Women with disabilities have so many challenges that they experience daily and chief among them is patriarchal societies. The expectations around a woman in a Zimbabwean society are high particularly with regards to the house chores.
“A woman who is not able to accomplish some or all house chores is looked down or frowned upon by the community and hence you find women living with disabilities going beyond what they can handle in order to please the patriarch.
“I personally am living with disability and there are chores that I cannot do as a result. This puts a lot of pressure on me to match what able bodied women can do. When I fail to match that, I like other women living with disabilities feel inadequate because our societies don’t empathise and support us.
“The whole system of womanhood in Zimbabwe is centred on what a woman can do at household level,” she said.
Mahwende said many women and children living with disabilities are rejected by their families and communities for failing to meet society’s expectations.
“We are calling upon people who live with people with disabilities to support them and love their wives in this journey of life,” she said.
Nyasha said the greatest test for women with disability is when they start dating or are getting into marriage. She said a number of women with disabilities have been abused by unscrupulous men who use them for rituals.
“Marriage is a big headache for women with disabilities because in-laws and other members of the extended family have expectations of the duties that the new daughter-in-law must perform. Failure to perform such duties results in frosty relationships.
“We receive a lot of reports that some men use women living with disabilities for rituals. There is a belief that sex with a woman who has a disability makes a man rich.
“Some women with disabilities face humiliation daily of having to depend on others, especially on private issues like menstrual health management,” said Mahwende.

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