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Mavutu Conversations – Responsibility in a traditional home

The line between respect and imposing traditional expectations may not be clear.

This is an intriguing question that I have been pondering due to several observations.

Recently, a friend informed me that his family still highly values ​​men and their opinions.

While I respect and value various domestic dynamics, when something is problematic, it becomes a problem. Before you judge me as a feminist, allow me to share my thoughts.

Let’s call the victim Kauna, a 12-year-old seventh grader from the north.

He has lived with family members his entire life and only knows what they have taught him.

During her examinations, her family discovered that Kauna was pregnant and upon further questioning revealed that a male family member had “put her thing where I pee.”

Due to her traditional upbringing, Kauna’s family did not report the incident or take her to the hospital.

Instead, she faced reprimands for being a small-town girl who doesn’t heed warnings about staying away from children. She kauna was the subject of victim-blaming comments, even though she did not fully understand what was happening to her. Oshiwambo households value many things, but responsibility to men is not one of them. Traditional systems have never promoted accountability and do not use appropriate terminology when addressing specific issues.

When they confronted the Kauna rapist, he claimed she had provoked him because of her appearance.

This statement was met with laughter by her guardians, as they found it incredible that a 12-year-old girl would become sexually involved in any way with a 35-year-old man. No authority intervened in the situation and Kauna was not allowed to defend itself against it. Instead, they asked her rapist if she would accept responsibility for Kauna’s child. Despite knowing that her actions were wrong, tradition allowed her to get her way.

The discussion concluded with Kauna being reprimanded for not listening to her rapist’s instructions regarding her son and admonishing her to behave like a lady to avoid further embarrassment to the family.

She was also ordered to take care of herself, as she was pregnant with her rapist’s child.

Where does law intersect with tradition so that both can coexist?

Tradition often conceals cases of rape and abuse under the pretext of protecting the reputation of the perpetrator.

How does this benefit victims, like Kauna, who are often minors and have no one to intervene on their behalf?

Where do families draw the line between protecting their children and upholding tradition?

When a 12-year-old girl seeks prenatal care, what role do health professionals play in this situation and to what extent are they allowed to help her professionally?

As long as we continue to uphold certain traditions that men are not perpetrators but have needs that must be met, there will always be more victims like Kauna.

*Frieda Mukufa’s lifestyle section focuses fortnightly on issues related to women and parenthood in the New Era newspaper. She also specializes in research proposal editing, reviewing, and content creation. [email protected]