How Kanyamugenge and the wife managed to overcome Gender Based Violence in their marriage
Philomene Nyirasafari is a 37-year-old mother of three children. Philomene and her husband, Kanyamugenge, are farmers based in Musanze district. The couple could hardly go a week without a fight in their home. Violence was more like a trade mark for their home. They were known for that.
“We were famous in our neighborhood for mainly one thing-violence. I spent eight years of my marriage being beaten & bruised and I started retaliating by hurling insults back at my husband. Our home was like a war zone where my husband and I were always fighting over anything. My husband would beat me up and even call me useless several times. Gender Based violence was a big issue in our home that nearly ended our marriage. We would fight and even both refuse to go dig yet that’s what our livelihoods & daily meals depended on,” Philomene explains.
Philomene and her husband continued to live in a marriage characterized by abuse and violence for over eight years. She was tired of the situation and would at times pack her bags and return to her parents’ home but as a mother, guilt would eat her up for leaving her children behind and she would return to her abusive marriage, for the sake of her children.
He would never let her join other women for developmental engagements and meetings. He would beat her up and she would hurl insults back at him too. Their children were always sad, and it felt like joy was something they would only here about but never experience.
When AmplifyChange project started working in Rwanda, they offered trainings for women on Gender Based Violence & rights. Philomene gradually started passing the lessons onto her husband who later became a changed man until there was no more abuse in her home.
“My husband changed. Our home is no longer faced with issues of abuse. The people in our neighborhood think I used sorcery or witch craft for him to be a changed man. My husband now respects and loves me. He doesn’t beat me up or hurl insults at me anymore. I have even added weight because of the peace I have in my heart. We now have a happy and peaceful home. Our children are happy too. I am so glad to have taken part of the trainings organized by ActionAid through AmplifyChange. I was able to learn about my rights, and to be supported to end the violence that had ruined my marriage,” said Philomene.
Philomene and her husband, Kanyamugenge, even took a family portrait dressed in the same fabric(kitenge) that now hangs in their house. They exude bliss as they show the photo to everyone who comes over to their house. Their faces radiate with joy and they lately treat themselves like they’ve just met. Kanyamugenge nolonger beats or disrespects his wife.
Kanyamugenge, Philomene’s husband, affirms that indeed he was an abusive husband who didn’t disrespect his wife. The wife would never know where he puts all profit from their produce from the garden. He notes that if the wife hadn’t attended the AmplifyChange trainings that she later shared with him, the situation would still be bad in their home.
“We wasted a lot of time fighting over trivial issues that would have been resolved amicably. Today, we are peaceful, we plan everything together. I even bought for my wife clothes that have the same fabric as mine. We go to the garden together. Our children are happily going to school. We are a happy and focused family now. My only wish is for more men to be engaged in these trainings, so they can also gain knowledge and transformed mindsets,” said Kanyamugenge.
ActionAid Rwanda empowers rightsholders to know their rights and overcome Gender Based Violence among several other topics.