Lillian Ogwang is 42 years old and is married to Jacob Ogwang. They have seven children. Lillian’s marriage has, however, been characterisedby physical and emotional violence inflicted on her by her husband as a way of disciplining her. In February 2015, Lillian’s story changed.
‘I have been married the past 23 years, but all these years in my marriage, I have experienced both physical and emotional violence from my husband. To him I became a punching bag that he would relieve stress on. Two days would hardly pass by without my husband pouncing at me. When I attempted to officially divorce him, my husband threatened to demand a refund of my bride price. Knowing very well that my parents were dead and my poor family could not afford the refund, I was forced to remain in the marriage. But as the Bible says, “Ask and it will be given to you.” I kept asking God for peace in our home and at the beginning of February 2015, God responded to my prayer. In February 2015 atAwilatrading centre, Idep Women Drama Group conducted a drama show on the dangers of wife beating. Coincidentally, my husband was at the same trading centre drinking, so he watched the drama presentation.’
Jacob, Lillian’s husband, was humbled by the drama show; it made him realise that what the actors were presenting on wife beating was what he was exactly doing to his wife. Besides, the drama show clearly sensitisedthe community to where cases of domestic violence should be reported. After the drama show, Jacob quietly approached the chairperson of the drama group and invited her and three other group members to his home.
Lillian narrated, ‘I cannot forget the day of 6February 2015, when my husband woke up in the morning and asked me to prepare food since he was expecting some visitors. At around 3pm, I was shocked to receive a team of fourwomen and twomen who later introduced themselves as ACFODE drama group members.’
Immediately afterwards, Jacob began narrating how he had been humbled by the drama show and confessed that for a long time he had been battering his wife, which he thought was normal, and that little did he know that wife beating was criminal and punishable by law. On hearing her husband make such a confession, Lillian narrates, tears of joy and relief rolled down her face. She could not believe what she was hearing her husband confess before the drama group members. Jacob there and then apologisedto Lillian and promised never to beat her again.
The drama group members thanked Jacob for realisinghis mistake and counselled the couple on the dangers of domestic violence. Lillian and Jacob werethereafter inspired to join the drama group where they became a model couple and nowsensitisecommunities tothe dangers of negative socio-cultural practices, including wife beating. In addition, Lillian’s self-esteem was boosted and, with support from her drama group members, she has taken up a leadership position as chairperson of the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) ofIdepPrimary School. Lillian was also elected a clan leader. Lillian has used her position as PTA chairperson to sensitiseparents, teachers and pupils against negative socio-cultural practices like early and forceful marriage, denying the girl-child an education, discriminatory seating arrangements in class and how domestic violence affects girl-child education. As clan leader, Lillian has been at the forefront of advocating positive socio-cultural practices like allowing women to inherit customary land, sharing domestic roles, and encouraging peaceful co-existence between husband and wife. Lillian has become a great inspirational icon to women in her community.