Dilish Ogwal has been married to Denish Ogwal for five years now. Denish paid two cows and three goats as Dilish’s bride price. In the Lango tradition, a married woman is expected to work tirelessly, to prove to her husband and in-laws that she is worth the bride price that was paid for her. Dilish was subjected to the tradition of shouldering the burden of all the home chores, including gardening, without the support of her husband.
Dilish narrated that they have three children with her husband. But all the years Dilish has been married she has taken care of the family, without any support from her husband. Dilish carries out all the gardening work of clearing the bush, planting, weeding and harvesting, in order to feed her children and in-laws. In addition to the burden she shoulders, her husband waits for the harvest season and uses any small misunderstanding between them to chase her away so that he can take control of the harvest. After he has sold the entire farm produce and spent the money on drinks and enticing other women, he pleads with her to return to their marital home. Dilish always accepts to painfully return home because her parents cannot afford to return the bride price her husband paid for her.
‘Each time I returned to my marital home I became very frustrated because there was always no food in the house to feed the children. Coupled with that, all my children were not going to school because we could not afford scholastic materials. Despite what I was going through, I continued working so hard in the garden. At one point I thought of killing myself because Icould not withstand the pain Iwas going through. Each time I discussed my pain with my husband he arrogantly responded: “A woman has to consent to her partner. This begins at the time her parents accept the bride price. Anything she owns – that is herself and the activities she carries out within the relationship or in the man’s home – belong to her husband.”
‘One day I attended a sensitisationmeeting in our church that was conducted by Patrick Akena. Patrick was speaking against negative socio-cultural practices like the denial to women of the right to own property, wife beating and not sharing domestic work. Patrick mentioned that he was trained by ACFODE as a male role model to advocate against negative socio-cultural practices. Immediately after the meeting I approached Patrick and told him my story. Two days later, Patrick, in the company of our catechist, came to my home to settle our case. My husband disrespectfully told them not to interfere with the affairs of his home and chased them away. Patrick then advised me to report the case to Akokoro police outpost. However, I was scared because I had never been to a police station before. Besides, I feared the reaction of my in-laws in case Imade the police arrest their son. As encouragement, Patrick escorted me to the police station, where Irecorded my statement with the Child and Family Protection Unit. The police officer gave me a summons to take to my husband through the LCI chairperson of our village. After receiving the letter, my husband became so scared because he knew he would be arrested. My husband immediately mobilisedhis clan leaders and requested them to apologiseon hisbehalf. I accepted to forgive him but made him sign the clan book with an oath to begin helping me in the gardens and never to sell farm produce without my consent. We are now living happily, with enough food in the house and all our children are going to school, at AwilaPrimary School.’
Dilish attributes all this wonderful unexpected change to ACFODE, who empowered Patrick to help the community of Akokoro promote gender-responsive socio- culturalpractices.