Crimes of passion: Anyone can be a victim

MONDAY marked the annual commemoration of International Elimination of Violence against Women Day, and as we continue to commemorate the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign, it is disheartening to note that crimes of passion are increasing by the day.

Candid Comment by Hazel Ndebele

Shockingly 60% of murder cases brought before the High Court are a direct result of domestic violence, a significant number of which revolve around issues of jealousy.

Of late there have been numerous cases of lovers killing each other in what are generally known as “crimes of passion”. The most recent case is of a 30-year-old Banket man who fatally stabbed his wife after discovering an unknown cellphone number in her mobile phone. He also attempted to kill himself.

Sadly, it is increasingly evident that no one is guaranteed protection in a relationship as anyone can become a victim when love turns to hate.

Crimes of passion as well as domestic violence are sensitive issues and anyone can be a victim regardless of status, sex, race, religion or age. Victims could be ordinary people or even celebrities. Statistics, however, reveal that it is mostly women who bear the brunt.

High profile celebrities are not spared with the example of 26-year-old South African paralympian Oscar Pistorius, who fatally shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day.

Although Pistorius claims he shot his girlfriend after mistaking her for an intruder, flags were raised after revelations the couple were having problems in their relationship. Closer to home, a few months ago Harare businessman Irvine Mereki shot his long-time girlfriend Claris Chopamba dead before turning the gun on himself . There is also the case of Learnmore Jongwe.

Men can also be victims of domestic violence and examples include former Highlanders chairperson James Mangwana-Tshuma who died after his wife torched their house in Bulawayo following a domestic dispute.

In an attempt to understand why people kill those they love in cold blood, I came up with several observations. Most relationships face issues of jealousy, insecurity, lack of communication and lack of willingness to compromise resulting in violence. Sometimes it is simply cowardice. Certainly everyone makes mistakes but there is never any justification for violence.

There are still women, young and old, who suffer silently in relationships and marriages. According to the Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey, three out of every 10 women in Zimbabwe have suffered from some physical violence at some point since the age of 15.

Laws protecting women and organisations dedicated to the fight domestic violence are there but that alone is not enough.

There needs to be a change in the mindset. There is still an outdated patriarchal mindset of viewing females as objects or inferior. As long as that mindset remains, cases of domestic violence will continue unabated.