Chronique Hebdo

Women kill very rarely, right? Not the rebel or soldier category like Maoists in the mountains of India or Al Qaeda female fighters in Yemen. Or the beautiful and brave Kurdish women taking up arms to defend their land against IS in Iraq. All fighting and killing for a political cause – that’s what they believe in.

We mean ordinary housewives and women. The ones who are terribly humiliated, pained and traumatized by their husbands’ infidelity. Not just a fling with another woman, come back home to the wife and forget about it. But worse is when that infidelity leads to marriage, with a second wife.

Our valiant police re-opened a case involving the death of a deceased husband after a few years and confronted the widow with cyanide in a glass of water poison. Strangely, police competence seemed terribly lacking in not bringing up enough evidence to solve the murder of Vanessa Lagesse. In 2002, Inspector Radhoa was transferred to the SMF where he could shelve his muscled tactics and watch soldiers polish guns… Some time back, the Court lifted the travel ban for the principal suspect in this case.

Another woman, a lady allegedly committed suicide by setting herself on fire. Both cases raise questions about the competence of the investigative authorities and the equality of treatment of citizens regardless of their social status, wealth and their relations with powerful people.

Sordid crimes were committed a few years ago by husbands because of their wives’ infidelity and by jilted boyfriends. With grinder, cutter, knives, women were mercilessly butchered.

Patriarchal and masochistic societies often show more indulgence for male unfaithfulness than the other way around. A woman taking another partner is assumed to be devastating for a man; his honour and dignity are severely damaged, his heart and mind go through tremendous suffering. A surge of adrenalin in some males makes them raving mad and to the point sometimes of proving fatal for women.

It is totally inconceivable under such a system for a married woman to tell her husband: ‘I have found a new partner. Come and have a drink with him and let us all be friends. I’ll make him my second husband, and you better accept it as I will leave you with no choice. I will move with him and we will start another family. You will still be my husband and I may come back to your bedroom whenever I fancy it.’ It reflects a view taken on the distinct rights of men and women, in which the woman doesn’t have as much freedom of choice as the man.

Exclusive male polygamy can generally be regarded as nothing but total disregard and contempt for women as human beings. In certain countries of Africa, males have multiple households, which they visit after long intervals. They move from one “wife” to the other. Women are the providers of the family in such systems, not the nomadic men. In such societies, the women are expected to put up with men’s overlordship in defining marital relationship and disrupting family pattern at will. Female resentment, suffering and anger are blithely ignored.

There is no notion of male fidelity in such arrangements. Totally overlooked is the fact that a woman is a human being like a man.

Hath not a woman eyes?

Hath not a woman hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections and passions?

If you prick us, do we not bleed?

If you tickle us, do we not laugh?

If you poison us, do we not die?

And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?

If we are like you in the rest,

we will resemble you in that.

A transposed version of Shylock’s powerful speech in a plea for recognition of his race and shared humanity in The Merchant of Venice — Hath not a Jew eyes ?… in a social context which makes him both villain and victim.

Women are the same worldwide irrespective of cultures and customs. It is inhuman to expect a woman to accept being relegated to a secondary role to a man after being his wife and mother of his children. Two days ago a woman was executed in Saudi Arabia for barging into the ceremony for her husband’s second marriage and setting the tent on fire, which cost the lives of dozens of people. Clearly, she must have been giving vent to her fury and rage, finding herself helpless against established norms and practices.

For centuries of male-dominated societies worldwide, much has been written about the fall of men due to the treachery of women in great literary works. In modern times of greater freedom of speech, it is time to produce a counter narrative of men as fickle creatures who ruin the lives of women.

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