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Below the Radar of Domestic Abuse: Financial Disempowerment of Women, a Silent Homewrecker
Category :- Feature Author :- L J KINGAH 
Posted on August 3, 2020, 10:36 am
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Income inequalities between men and women are still very rife around the world. Generally, men earn more than women. In a marriage surrounding, this inequality may translate to profoundly serious problems and contribute to the escalation of domestic abuse by the high earning spouse against the one low-earning partner.

Domestic violence

Finance-related domestic violence has become a common form of abuse which is eating up homes, causing infidelity, divorce, adultery, and other marital issues. Given that men are mostly the perpetrators and women victims, empowering women’s financial strength will be a better way to curb this ill.

Research has proven that women are most likely to fall victim to finance-related domestic violence in situations where they earn less than their husbands. Sometimes, victims might be unaware that they are undergoing finance-related domestic violence.

Perpetrators use violence to gain power and control in a relationship. According to nndev.org, “The forms of financial abuse may be subtle or overt but in general, include tactics to conceal information, limit the victim’s access to assets, or reduce accessibility to the family finances.”

Finance-related abuse nurtures emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. It is intended, sometimes indirectly to manipulate, intimidate, and threaten the victim to stay in the relationship. It, however, differs from one relationship to the other. There are relationships where financial abuse is the order of the day from the beginning but in others, it shows up when the “survivor” is attempting to quit or has left. This is when issues of differences in income levels, property ownership among others step in.

Domestic violence

According to research, 99% of domestic violence is financial abuse. Lack of enough income may force victims to continue to stay in the relationship even as they are fully aware of its toxicity. They may find the violence more bearable than the uncertainty of the penury that they may fall into after quitting the marriage. Most often, the women may have no legal support to enable them to demand alimony from their ex-husbands.

Finance-related domestic abuse occurs across all socio-economic, educational, racial, and ethnic groups around the globe.

LeGideon Newspaper spoke to a few women in the streets of Yaounde on finance-related violence. Among them was a woman who divorced three months. She pleaded anonymity for personal security reasons. We will call her Leila. She is 39 years old and a mother of three. She got married at the age of 26.

Having married as a Master II student, she had a part-time job as a teacher but it was nothing compared to her husband who was a public servant, earning over three hundred thousand francs per month besides running a poultry farm and other petty business on the sidelines. She joined him in the poultry venture, but she was never made to feel like she was part of the business ownership.

 “I was skeptical when he said we should get married because I had no job. But since he promised that I will continue my education and later find a job I changed my mind. Unfortunately for me, I got no stable job after repeatedly going in for competitive exams but failed.” Her marriage, she said, started on well. “I won’t lie, it was a marriage like none for seven years but suddenly, it turned sour.” recounted Leila.

 “It all started jokingly with a, ‘can’t you even buy children’s clothes for once, mummy?’ But look at where we are today,” she lamented.

Stop Domestic Violence

She said she soon became a beast of burden for her husband. She was never for once respected and whenever she wanted to leave, her now ex-husband would threaten her with children’s custody, the percentage in property distribution, shelter, and feeding, among others. She added that she now lives in poverty but happy and far from the financial abuse and trauma she was forced to endure.

It should be noted that to gain control of victims, abusers sometimes forbid the victim to work, sabotage their work or employment opportunities. They strictly control how money is spent. However, for fears of homelessness, starvation, and mockery victims stick with the abusers.

Since the men have a higher percentage of income than women, they take advantage of the privilege because they cover financial expenses and as such vent their stress, frustration, anger on their spouses. The women become nothing but manipulatable tools in the hands of their husbands.

To compound matters, some victims find it unable to quit because of the bride price that her family collected from the man which in many cases must be refunded should she decide to divorce her husband.

Domestic violence

The government and organizations committed to ending domestic abuse must not mitigate the role of spousal income inequalities in the escalation of the problem. As such, there is an urgent need to empower women with income generating activities that can enable them to contribute substantially to the family purse.

Empowering women financially will equally limit men’s stress, frustration and anger engendered by being the lone breadwinner and which often lead to a host of problems such as infidelity, domestic abuse, and the breakdown of marriages.

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