He wants to keep me in the house all the time. But I refuse to accept his idea

BirituBiritu lives in Ethiopia. She is 45 and has seven children. She has been attending meetings with Womankind’s partner Siiqqee, which helps women to work together to become economically independent.

“The problem is between me and my husband, we have some conflict in the house and the conflict increased when I joined this Siiqqee group. When I go to meetings and meet with other women he is always accusing me. He wants to keep me in the house all the time. But I refuse to accept his idea.

“It is domestic violence, insulting me and humiliating me and even beating me. I couldn’t tolerate these things so I took the case to the elders, he refused the advice of the elders so I took the case to court.

“Because we are poor, at household level we have no income, going to court to write papers or other things were covered by Siiqqee’s support. The court, again, said, ‘go back to the elders and try again to make agreement to bring peace in the house because it affects your children’. I go back again to the elders and the elders settled. Things are better but still the husband is not happy for me to go out.

“I am not comfortable with this situation but at least for the sake of my children I have to be patient for a few years until my daughter completes her university education and then she can assist me and I am going to leave here. So I just ignore him, whatever he says and continue my meeting with my groups.

“I will continue learning and strengthening myself. I don’t want to stop my membership in the self-help group because it gives me loads of benefits. We got respect in the community. We assist each other.

“For example when a pregnant woman could not go to the river to collect water and firewood, members of Siiqqee, her friends, go by shift. After she gave birth we cook for her, we bring water for her, we help her. So I will never stop going to the meetings or leave my group.

“Everybody assists each other, gives advice to each other, everybody faces problems daily, but we come together and discuss and raise issues together. I also give advice for those who face similar problems like me.

“Getting out and joining with other women is an opportunity for us. But there are loads of women who have no such chance; who don’t know where to go when this domestic violence happens to them. They don’t know how to read and how to write. Or even they don’t know that Siiqqee is around.

“There are lots of women in our country, so these women should be included in the programme. Let them know their rights, let them know that there is another opportunity, another chance for women.”

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