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Ulunyoka: a harmful violation of spouse's rights

by Mashudu Mambo
03 Jun 2022 at 07:46hrs | Views
Harmful traditional practices have led to the abuse of human rights and abuse of women. These include genital mutilation and child marriages that have infringed on the rights of women, however, the use of ulunyoka has been ignored with people viewing it as a problem that affects both parties.

The practice of ulunyoka in marriages is a bone of contention as some view it as a matter that affects both partners.

In most cases ulunyoka is placed on women, leaving their lives at the mercy of their husbands, who either choose to come and unlock them or let them die.

In a recent story, Nanzeni Moyo,  a woman from Bubi District Matabeleland North province, claimed that her husband Mark Moyo sought the services of a healer to cast an ulunyoka spell on her after suspecting that she was cheating on him.

The spell (ulunyoka/runyoka) is said to make sure that if someone other than the husband tries to have sex with the woman in question his manhood would continue to swell or they get stuck to each other until the husband returns to exact his revenge.

A gender activist, Tatenda Kombora of Black Unika Foundation said the practice of ulunyoka is a violation of human rights that is used to oppress mostly women.

"I believe ulunyoka in marriages must be done away with because it violates the principle of marriage and human rights. A report by the Zimbabwe Gender Commission in 2020 stated that at least 22 women are raped in a day, meaning that if a woman is raped, they will have to face these painful circumstances like those women who would have had extramarital affairs.

"A woman will have to suffer the double jeopardy of being raped and falsely accused of having an extramarital affair.

I doubt if spiritually there would be any definition of whether it was a rape case or an affair," she said.
Kombora said the practice of ulunyoka is done by men who believe that women are owned and view them as objects which can be locked and unlocked.

"We live in a patriarchal society where men believe women are owned and the husbands are the ones who determine what happens to their women. This kind of mentality has ruined society, and it is a violation of women's rights.

"I think as a society, we have to remember that there is a penalty for adultery legally and stop taking matters into their own hands," she said.

She added that there was the need to create a stiff penalty to deal with the issue of ulunyoka to ensure the safety of women.

"There should be a stiff penalty on people who use ulunyoka, this punishment has to be severe to ensure the end of this evil practice because this is a gross violation of women's rights and human rights," she said.

Another gender activist, Nomalanga Moyo said the practice of ulunyoka is sexual abuse and a violation of people's rights.

"It is bad, people must think of the implications of this practice and ask themselves questions like what if the partner dies, how does the man or woman remarry? People cheat, and people die for no reason. It's better to leave someone than to use ulunyoka. It violates women's rights; it is sexual abuse. Especially if you leave the partner and they do not remove ulunyoka, it means the person will die.

"People lie and say they are not married, so it's abuse and it affects the next person. People should be arrested for using ulunyoka on their partners because some lose lives through this practice," she said.

In interviews, most men said ulunyoka is an archaic witchcraft practice.

"Ulunyoka is an outdated concept. It is an indigenous knowledge system used by greedy and insecure women and men with trust issues. This is witchcraft, what if one dies in the process, what gain does the partner have in all this? " asked Nkosana Mathe.

"The use of ulunyoka is selfishness, some people say that it is a good practice to ensure that you are protected from different infections, but however, l believe that if you and your wife love each other there is no need to go through that," added Mcedisi Dumane.

The president of Zimbabwe Traditional Healers Association (Zinatha) George Kandiero said there were different ways in which people use ulunyoka, and he condemned the practice.

"The practice of ulunyoka has always been there from time immemorial, and we feel that once you start using such practices, there is a serious problem. If things are not working out just leave.

"People use it in different forms, others will get stuck to someone, others will develop a rash or a form of disease until you confess to the husband and others will start swelling, we don't administer such things," he said.
Kandiero encouraged people to stop using such methods as the practice is a form of witchcraft that imprisons partners.

"Love must not be forced, the use of ulunyoka is a form of slavery. This is like imprisoning your partner, it is witchcraft, and people must stop this practice," he said.

Source - B-Metro
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