Warning: the story contains instances of gender-based violence.
For 15 years Cynthia* was violently abused by her husband. The whole village knew about it and so did the church. Yet no-one spoke out about it. Then, at last, someone listened to her…
There’s a proverb in Burundi that states that ‘a woman that isn’t beaten is like a house that isn’t cleaned.’ It’s one of many such sayings that point to a serious problem of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in the country.
If you are a survivor of domestic violence in Burundi, there is often nowhere to turn. This, for a long time, was Cynthia’s experience.
Cynthia is 49. She’s separated from her husband and lives with her three children in a rural village in Burundi. She got married at 19 and for ten years lived peacefully with her husband.
‘Life was good, he was our protector and provider, we were in love,’ Cynthia recalls. ‘Suddenly he changed and started beating me. I couldn’t understand what I did wrong.’
Vicious cycle of abuse
Cynthia lived with her children on the family farm. She cultivated their land and took care of the children. Her husband lived and worked in a nearby city, and only came home at the weekend. It was something she came to dread.