If you don’t speak out, no one will know that you need help

“My name is Thoko and I am 44 years old and a mother of four children. I have separated from my husband and am in the process of divorcing him.

In 2009, I sued my husband for child support for my youngest two children. The court awarded me US$60 for each child. I accepted the court’s decision even though I knew the money was not enough to help with buying food, clothing and paying for school fees and uniforms.

However, in 2011 my husband just stopped paying. I heard from my friends that the Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association (ZWLA) could help me. ZWLA helped me take my case back to court. The judge at the High Court ordered my husband to resume the child support payments as well as to pay for the school fees for both children. I also decided to divorce my husband and ZWLA is helping me with that case as well. We have been living apart for many years, it is better for me if I end the marriage legally.

I am happy with the support I received from ZWLA. There are many delays at the High Court. But ZWLA helped with following up on my case. They have better access to the courts and can get information more quickly than I can. I also think that having more information about my rights made me more confident and I was not scared to present my case before the judge at the High Court.

Now I know where to go when I need support. I have also helped other women facing similar challenges. I have a small shop downtown, so I get to meet many women and sometimes they tell me about their challenges at home. I have referred one woman with a child support case to ZWLA and I have given many more women information about their rights. I am not worried about the stigma that I am likely to face from some of my family when my divorce is finalised. It is not easy when a woman is divorced.  Some family members will see me as someone who failed at her marriage. But I have decided to divorce my husband. ZWLA has given me the courage to follow through my decision.

I expect that in time my family and friends will respect my decision. I advise other women not to keep quiet about the problems they face. There are organisations like ZWLA that can help you. If you don’t speak out, no one will know that you need help."

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  • Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association (ZWLA)

    Zimbabwe, Africa
    Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association (ZWLA) is an association of women lawyers established in 1992 which has been providing legal services to marginalised women and children while at the same time campaigning for laws and policies that protect their rights.