Musician Saboi says husband abusive

Saboi and Owas

Saboi and Owas

By Jo Fidgen BBC News- One of Zambia’s most famous singers has revealed how she was badly beaten by her husband. She now hopes to lift the lid on the country’s ingrained acceptance of domestic violence.

“My husband will kill me,” giggles Saboi Imboela nervously. “But, yes, he once beat me up so badly I reported him to the police.”

The 32-year old is one of Zambia’s top vocalists. Her husband is a popular actor, Owas Ray Mwape. This is the first time she has spoken publicly about the beating she received at his hands, and she wriggles uncomfortably at the memory.

“It was the police who begged me not to take it further,” she recalls, revealing some of the engrained attitudes she is now taking on.

“They told me: ‘We know how you women are. We’ll lock him up and in a minute or two, you’ll change your mind and want him released.'”

Her doctor also dissuaded her from reporting the assault, as did some of her friends.

‘Part of growing up’

Campaigners believe more than half of Zambian women have suffered domestic abuse but cases rarely come to light because of the stigma attached to speaking out.

Young women are taught by their elders to accept punishment from their husbands when they are disobedient. Even cooking a bad meal warrants a smack.

“That’s how you grow up in Africa,” explains Mr Mwape.

“To be a man, you need to discipline a woman, give her a slap or two. You know, in our culture, it’s OK because that’s how we feel we love our women.”

It is a message driven home at boys’ initiation ceremonies – chastisement is a sign of affection and a woman never achieves the status of an adult. Like a child she needs to be “trained” to behave well.

In some parts of the country tradition allows a man to beat his wife if he survives a crocodile attack.

In others, a wife’s infidelity is revealed when her newborn baby coughs. She must take the consequences.

“Tradition is used as a cover for domestic violence,” complains Johnson Tembo.

As chairman of the Men’s Network, he tries to persuade his peers to alter their behaviour.

But he believes women’s attitudes need to change too.

“Some women are foolish enough to think that if they are not beaten by their husbands, they’re not loved,” he says.

Marital-rape clause

It is a problem recognised by the Zambian government’s Gender in Development Division.

Director Christine Kalamwina is forthright about the challenges she faces in tackling domestic abuse.

“The majority of women enjoy a beating, because they are made to believe it is part of our tradition,” she says.

She believes the answer is to create awareness that violence against women is discrimination.

“Then they can stand up and claim their rights,” she says.

Those rights are being discussed with the drafting of an anti-domestic violence bill.

As it stands, the law does not recognise attacks on women as a specific crime. Cases are treated as simple assault.

But the bill, which is designed to change that, is already running into difficulties.

A clause outlawing marital rape has been dropped because of cultural considerations.

And Ms Kalamwina says it is proving hard to reach agreement on where to draw the line between courtship rituals and sexual harassment in a country where women are expected to play hard to get.

‘Partner or doormat?’

But even if the law is tightened, would it make a difference?

The risks of taking a stand against domestic violence are too great for many women. They are often blamed for provoking their husbands and ostracised for exposing them.

Divorce may follow, with devastating consequences.

“Abused women tell us they don’t want their relationships to break up because the husband is the bread-winner, and they won’t be able to take care of their children,” says Hope Kasese Kumalo, the acting national co-ordinator for Woman and Law in Southern Africa.

“There’s a lot of glorification of marriage in this country,” she says.

“Some women who are economically independent will not speak out against violence because they want to stay married at all costs.

“If you are married you are respected; if you are not, people will think there is something wrong with you.”

A battered woman who runs to her parents is often sent back to her abusive husband.

Fortunately, not all cases end badly. At home in Lusaka, Ms Imboela and Mr Mwape snuggle up on the sofa together.

“He’s a good husband, we’ve sorted out our differences,” smiles Ms Imboela.

Mr Mwape counts himself lucky.

“I was ready to go jail for what I did; I deserved it. I have stopped hitting my wife for the sake of our boys. I don’t want them to become what I became,” he says.

“I’m pleased Saboi has spoken about this. That’s the way to go.”

Is he worried about his reputation?

“No, I don’t have concerns that people will think less of me now, because in Zambia, 99.9% of men have committed that crime before,” he says.

Ms Imboela is now working on a song about women’s rights, called Yenze Nthawi Yakayena (That Was Then).

“Men have always mistreated their wives. But times have changed, and men must too,” she sings.

She says she hopes abused women will hear her song and “stand up and say: ‘This is wrong’.

“And that men will look at their situation and say: ‘I love my wife and I shouldn’t treat her like this. She’s my partner, not my doormat’,” she says.

Is it Citemene or Chitemene?
Zambia: The hidden costs of TB

17 Responses to "Musician Saboi says husband abusive"

  1. Joe Berger  October 3, 2011 at 21:33

    too bad

  2. boboy  December 1, 2009 at 19:29

    arrest the chap!!why shud he be left to wonder around when he’san abuser?useless of him!!

  3. Ackson Banda  December 1, 2009 at 16:59

    Foolish of this actor who justifies his stupid acts of violence against wives.He should be ashamed of himself.He’s supposed to a shining example to society,though I also know that Saboi is another character.These are two fools leaving together.

  4. spectator  December 1, 2009 at 13:07

    the Bible says husbands love your wivies. love is not romance, its a principle, its a decision that u have to make but its not easy. this Owas man is an embrassment to the institution of marriage and he better repent. wivies should be treated like queens whether or not they offend us. beating your wife means u cant reason properly and it reduces u to a level of a dog, a beast. am very annoyed

  5. stans  December 1, 2009 at 12:10

    their must be something wrong deep down this story lets not jump to conclusions and say his a bad guy,playa,womaniser or whatever coz at times its the wife(saboi)herself who is the cause,may be shes a playate so the root cause has to be known

  6. Volcanologist  December 1, 2009 at 12:07

    Its sad that women are being battered every second of each day by their spouse. I leave next door to a investigation officer working for Human Rights Commission the custodian of championing human rights. But the way he butchers his wife, i fear that he will kill her one day. If 2 weeks goes by without hearing noise and seeing them in action boxing, that is peaceful week and we thank God that, yes, peace prevailed. They drink together and end up fighting. I wonder who is going to protect and stop violence against women when enforcers of law are the ones perpetuating the vice. Guess the law should move in and arrest Saboi’s hubby. Foolish husband and who said that men should use their masculine on a woman. Foolish!

  7. Zedian  December 1, 2009 at 11:06

    This guy Owas, I know him. He’s one hell of a player. He was a divorcee before he married poor Saboi and I know how much he’s a womanizer. I pity Saboi because looks are not enough to make a man. This man, I believe strongly, is just using her hence the physical abuse. I am very sure there marriage will not last because Owas is very immature besides being a womanizer. I believe in people changing but I don’t believe in Owas changing his spots. He’s just too childish!

  8. Ben  December 1, 2009 at 09:22

    What made him beat you up so badly. Please give us more information much as we dont support wife battering!

  9. Kaumb  December 1, 2009 at 01:19

    I am living in USA, and here when a woman calls 911 to report a bathering by the husband, he is gone to spend a night in cells before to be taken to court following day, and most of the time, he will be told not to get closer his own home for a period of time, sometime up to 5 years. Same apply if convinced of slapping your own kid, the kid will be taken from you and given to a family to be raised in ” good environment”. As as consequence, the family link is so weak in USA, a lot of divorces, so many single mothers and kids without our good ” african education” , soon becoming drug addicted, murderers, bank breakers and everything you read in the newspapers , and see on TV. Our culture is good, wives should respect the husbands, chidren should rewspect parents. It is not good to beat his wife, but , some women, when they know the husband cant touch them, they start doing all kinds of wrong things. Let us protect marriage, our children and our society. I dont envy the american way of living at all, our society is much better and our kids very well educated.

  10. Chicago city  December 1, 2009 at 01:06

    Part of the solution to these adulterers is to return to their first marriages.

  11. ZimaNdola  November 30, 2009 at 20:44

    Ray shouldn’t be our spokesman for all the Zambian men and its not true that 99.9% of all men mistreat their wives u are a liar of the worst kind and u shouldn’t justify beating yo wife..It shows that you are a weak man trying to be powerful to yo wife,usually people like u Ray that beat their wives they merely do this in order for them to compensate what they lack e.g small kabwamba or low performance in bed.

    This is sad u even say u stopped beating her for the sake of your boys meaning that without the boys the beating should have been going on,shame on u Ray shame..Just so u know i never have mistreated my wife coz i was raised in a home we respected the rules of the house and our parents taught us the values of life as well as that of marriage and therefore i appreciate a woman so much i would never hit or beat her there are other ways of addressing differences with women,u are coward and u ought to be ashamed of your actions…

  12. ZimaNdola  November 30, 2009 at 20:43

    Ray shouldn’t be our spokesman for all the Zambian men and its not true that 99.9% of all men mistreat their wives u are a liar of the worst kind and u shouldn’t justify beating yo wife..It shows that you are a weak man trying to be powerful to yo wife,usually people like u Ray that beat their wives they merely do this in order for them to compensate what they lack e.g small p@#$s or low performance in bed.

    This is sad u even say u stopped beating her for the sake of your boys meaning that without the boys the beating should have been going on,shame on u Ray shame..Just so u know i never have mistreated my wife coz i was raised in a home we respected the rules of the house and our parents taught us the values of life as well as that of marriage and therefore i appreciate a woman so much i would never hit or beat her there are other ways of addressing differences with women,u are coward and u ought to be ashamed of your actions…

  13. Dandy  November 30, 2009 at 19:23

    Husband snatcher or not, violence against women is not to be tolerated. Shame on the police officers, the Doctor and her friends. And her husband does not seem sorry abt his actions. This story is shameful.

  14. Ba Zambia  November 30, 2009 at 18:18

    This woman is a problem. She grabed someone’s husband and now she is complaining of being beaten. The guy should even beat her more. For her to grab a man from someone how can the man she grabed trust her. Women should learn.

  15. saves u rite!  November 30, 2009 at 18:18

    THATS WAT HAPPENS TO HUSBAND SNATCHERS!

  16. nshilimubemba  November 30, 2009 at 18:09

    Saboi just behave, you are now married you are no longer single allow your husband to be the husband, men want to remain men when the man is a leader in the home certainly there will be hamony, but minus that there will be no peace at all

  17. EGWUGWU  November 30, 2009 at 18:06

    wat was the cause for him to beat you badly

Comments are closed.