Feature Article of Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Columnist: Nyarko, Afia

Please Set The Woman Who Stabbed Her Husband Free!

In response to the article on the 12th of November, 2012 on most Ghanaian news websites about Mavis Bonze, who stabbed her husband, I petition that she should be set free. She needs her children and those children need her. According to the story, she is a twenty-two year-old mother of three currently held in the cells of Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit in the Buduburam in the central region for stabbing her husband. Although the age of Abeiku Afful is not known yet, what we do know is she has been married to him for 8 years. It is alleged, she stabbed the husband in the chest. He is alive after receiving treatment at Korle Bu hospital. The question is who has been looking after the three children while the mother is in cell?

According to the story, the husband is a trotro driver who comes home late, something not uncommon for bus or passenger drivers to do.I do not condone violence or wife stabbing her husband. However, this woman should be set free. Mavis Bonze deserves to walk free, go home and look after the children who knows their mother twenty hours. From the story, one can argue she acted in self-defense. That man should be sentenced to at least 10 years in prison for having sex, defiling, assaulting, raping and abusing an underage girl for over 4years in the name of "forced marriage". He should be jailed for denying her the education and childhood as a teenage. For over eight years if not exactly eight years of forced marriage- he has physically, emotionally and socially abused her. How can any sensible and reasonable person comprehend his daughter, niece, sister, or granddaughter at age 14 or less be forced into marrying a grown up man? Can any man imagine his son or grandson, nephew forced to marry a grown up woman? Can one put himself/herself in the shoes of Mavis Bonze, walk her journey and feel or behave like she did? How strong is she after giving birth to three children within eight years considering her age? She should be set free. After years of abuse and neglect,tired and worn out of childbirth, she did not have any choice to escape her captor, her abuser and leave the poor little children alone.

The frustration, anguish and trauma deeply suffered for many years definitely made her defend herself against that man. Not surprised if she has been arguing with him for coming home late and leaving early in the morning. He has a job, money, power and a life. The only thing left for her is the full-time job of looking after three children 24hours without social or physical help from that man. His possible financial help is buying food or clothing for them is not enough. No wonder she believes he is now chasing other women. After all, she looks twice older than her age, used, abused and unattractive. He can buy food outside if she decides not to cook for him. He could have other women while Mavis is busily nursing the kids day and night. He decides what she can buy since raising those kids does not fetch money from space. He works and deals with money everyday he jumps to his van. She is financially, physically and if I may be permitted to say emotionally dependent on this man.Its like her only survival is him.

Mavis was left with just one choice on Saturday, 3rd of October 2012 when that argument ensued. The choice to defend herself if her life was threatened. If her intention was to kill him, I think she would have done earlier than early October 2012. If the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit wants to continue holding her behind bars, then they should make a quick and diligent effort to arrest Abeiku for the crime committed against her as a child. She needs to be set free. She needs her children and those children need her. If the unit stands for domestic abuse then they need to re-define it. The human rights activists, the Ministry of Women and Children affairs, the police, and local government all need to join efforts to help release her.

Afia Nyarko

Contact:afianyarko@ghanaianfeministsforum.com www.ghanaianfeministsforum.com