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Confessions of a Married Woman - Part 3

Rutendo battled with anxiety at the thought of meeting her boyfriend's parents.

From the day that Thomas had told her that he was ready to move their relationship to the next level she had been worried sick of the day she would meet them. The night before she was restless, she wondered whether they would like her or not. She had pulled out a number of appropriate outfits to wear on the day.

Rehearsed her behaviour and manners with a little help from her married friends who had gone through the experience.

On the day, she took a couple of shots of whisky to help with her nerves, however ; upon meeting the parents she asked herself why she had even been worried sick about anything. The mother was a carefree woman, 21st century kind of mother in law and from the moment they were formally introduced they kicked it off.

An introduction which was meant to only last for a few minutes ended up being a day filled with memorable festivities. The parents invited their neighbours and they had a braai to welcome their son's girlfriend.

It was not the meat, alcohol or the welcoming spirit that shocked her. It was the eye opening conversations that she had with her mother in law that left her jaw on the floor.

Whilst enjoying themselves, her mother in law, out of the blue started giving her advise about marriage and the kind of family they were. To her surprise her mother in law was not the first wife rather she was the third wife and she started recounting how she ended up being a third wife.

In a society so bend on not fully accepting polygamy, it was an interesting story to hear from the horse's mouth how, not easy it was being married into a polygamous set up.

The story had been really the same the woman had been deceived to think that he was a single man with no children or a previous marriage only to find out when it was too late at her roora day that she was getting married to someone who had two other wives and children. Their union began on a rocky start with violence from the other two parties involved who had not been consulted that he was taking another wife.

Her mother in law proudly recounted the number of times her seniors embarrassed her in public, calling her all sorts of names from "Slut", " Husband snatcher", "Witch" to even teaming up to beat her up. At first she had been silent about the abuse and when she tried to talk to her husband she was met with denial that she was trying to pin him against his other family members. This brought about heavy fights and arguing which one day resulted on him putting his hands on her.

She did not wait to be given seven stitches on her wounds for her to even think twice about reporting to her family members over his abuse. Her husband was reported to the police with the help of her family members.

A norm not so easy acceptable in society but the family stood by her and made it very known that they did not accept such behaviour. The husband spent a few days in the police cell and after being released they held a family meeting where he apologized to her.

Her mother in law laughed at this point when she spoke of how he was humble enough to realize that he had been wrong on putting his hands on her and also even allowing his other wives to beat her. After a series of family meetings and a traditional couple therapy they both finally agreed to have a formal introduction of her to his other wives.

Rutendo's thoughts on the issue were that her mother in law was a brave woman.

First and foremost for not allowing herself to be abused in silence. She spoke up and got the help she needed. It made Rutendo to realize that these were the kind of stories she needed to hear. Stories about women who were not afraid to go against popular beliefs and seek help when met with situations like her mother in law's. Her other reflection was that sometimes it was not always men who instigated violence on women but women amongst themselves could actually abuse each other.

From that conversation alone she immediately recognized her mother in law as a hero in her own kind of way.

This series is dedicated to all the victims of gender based violence. This is my own way of advocating against GBV against all women, children and girls.

Ciao Shashie 263!

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