Perhaps there are just some things you leave behind when you choose a new life. Indeed, Chimuka chose a new life and left behind some things dear to her. IWhat made Chimuka choose her new life?
What Chimuka chose
Chimuka, 23 years old, second year student at Nkumbi International College choose to leave her relationship with a love of her life. She chose to start a new life after being trained as a peer educator and being enlightened about her sexual and reproductive health rights under the UNESCO O3 PLUS project. She is an active peer educator who was involved in writing articles on bullying and sexual harassment for the recently launched OwnU mobile application in Zambia.
Chimuka narrates that she was in a relationship with a fellow student at the institution for about six months. Their relationship started becoming toxic a few months after they started dating. Her partner started becoming insecure leading him to stalking her and stopping her from interacting with other friends including some male peer educators. She narrates further that she tried on several occasions to explain her relations with other students, but her partner increasingly became possessive and verbally abusive.
Knowing the red flags of GBV and bullying, Chimuka decided to be proactive and end the relationship for her safety. As with most GBV cases little did she realize that she had set in motion a series of terror. She said “my partner totally refused to end our relationship and he stalked me and accused me of cheating, I was scared and I decided to talk to someone about it”. Chimuka talked to one of her fellow peer educators, Lukundo who witnessed the abusive behaviour of Chimukas’ partner.
Lukundo mentioned that he thought that Chimuka’s partner was increasingly insecure because of the exposure that she had as peer educator. However, the three tabled the issue and tried to make him understand that being extremely possessive is not right in a relationship. Lukundo explained to him that being abusive will only drive his partner away because she is scared of his behaviour. He also helped Chimuka’s partner to see the benefits of positive masculinity which he learnt during one of the O3 PLUS outreach campaigns on campus. A man does not show power by being fierce rather show love by being understanding and supportive to your partner.
Chimuka mentioned that she received backlash from some friends who felt she made a huge mistake by exposing her partner instead of keeping things cool and enduring the pain because that is how boys show love. She says, “there are so many things we take for granted and if you don’t have the information, you can easily make bad decisions”. She believes her added knowledge on GBV gave her the confidence to get out of a toxic relationship even though she still loved her partner. She says it is very important to feel valued, respected in a relationship because that is the only way you can make safe and healthy decisions without feeling guilty, suppressed, or scared.
Chimuka had one last thing to say about GBV, “my fellow girls, your life and your health matters the most, if you feel threatened in any way in your relationship, you have the right to leave or talk to someone”. In Chimuka’s lens, it is evident that everyone deserves information because information is power.
UNESCO O3 PLUS project is providing information to young people in Higher and Tertiary Education Institutions on sexual and reproductive health including gender-based violence. According to the Zambia Demographic Health Survey (2018) more than one-third (36%) of women aged 15-49 have experienced physical violence at least once since age 15 and more than half (52%) never sought help and never told anyone about the violence.