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What is my role as a woman in protecting another woman from the heartbreak of being cheated on? It is said the ultimate betrayal is INFIDELITY and I agree . I know in our African culture this kind of issue is pushed under the carpet, but the reality is after some time whatever you have swept under the carpet starts coming out.

I believe most of us have witnessed the effects of infidelity on our loved ones or experienced it ourselves. We may have lost relatives, mothers, friends and colleagues because of infidelity. As a point of reflection I believe it is time for us women to stand together and do what is right, to protect the next woman.

Last year I had the most painful encounter with the effects of infidelity after a high school classmate reached out to me to help a distant relative of hers who had been going through infidelity issues in her marriage, along with other forms of GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE (GBV). I was told that this lady has been contemplating suicide and i immediately reached out to some friends and colleagues who could offer her counseling. Within a few hours I had already managed to arrange assistance and the plan was that she would go for counseling in the morning. But in the morning I received a call that the woman had taken her life that night. The husband of the deceased only came home late in the afternoon; the family had tried to call him and he never answered the phone. Later on it was revealed that this man, didn’t spend the night at home and many times he had been with the other woman.

I was so saddened by this. I have never met the deceased woman but I cried like I had lost my own mother. I kept asking myself “What could I have done better? I felt like I failed her, that our society failed her .But my ultimate question was ‘what is my role as woman in protecting another woman from the pain of infidelity? If us women would stand with each other, and say I care for my sisters enough not to be involved with their partner…. And I wonder if women who have affairs with men who are in relationships/married do they ever wonder what they could have done differently in instances like this? Do they ever see the consequences of their actions?

I will never forget, what my elder sister went through when she found out that the men she was with for years was having an affair. I was very young by then like 13 years but I could see what was happening; I saw my sister losing weight, her smile faded and she developed chronic terrible bad headache. She started taking a very strong tea which she ended up being addicted to; up to this time I still associate that tea brand with that incidence. This might seem like a small thing, but to me those were the memories which were imprinted in me. That was my first experience with infidelity, and the reality is the impact of infidelity last longer and continues haunting people even into their adulthood; children witness this and the pictures and words never fade away: the sobs at night from their mother’s room, the quarrels that follows in the morning when the their father arrives .The pain that children go through because of infidelity is beyond what we could think of.In one of our local newspaper a young girl wrote :

In 2008 when I was in grade 7, I found out one of my parent was cheating on the other and I don’t know how I’ve managed to ignore that up until now. Well, probably because if it was ever found out it could lead to divorce, shame or hurt to both my parents and my younger brother who was then in grade 1.The problem I’m now having is that I think it’s affecting me in many areas.I feel like I don’t matter in this equation and I sometimes display a mean attitude toward the cheating parent. I’ve also been in numerous relationships but I refuse to trust and believe in love; I have so much anger, depression and weight on my shoulders.” from The Voice Newspaper, a letter written to the editor.I can only imagine what this young girl had to go through keeping such a secret.

I don’t want to talk about the men’s responsibility, but sisterhood. We looking to everyone else to understand our struggles as women, but we seem not to understand the struggles that we put other women go through. I have witnessed and experienced the pain of infidelity, and I don’t wish that pain on anyone else. And I can’t understand how another person can knowingly do that to another woman; we are the ones who can break the cycle by saying NO.

Around the world and even in my country we have seen and heard stories of infidelity and how it destroyed lives. People have lost lives, mental breakdown, suicides, homicides others are living with disability, we talk of dysfunctional homes and broken marriages, fatherless children all of this are mostly due to infidelity. Where there is infidelity other forms of GBV intensifies the risks of spreading sexual diseases go up. The effects of infidelity even shows at work; poor performance, late coming ,etc.

I find myself at time wondering…as a gender activist and human right activist are we not contradicting ourselves with some of the rights we are fighting for …like the legalization of sex work….is that not encouraging infidelity???

This international women’s day, I would like to encourage us to reflect; as women what have we done? How have we treated another woman? As we are looking to everyone else to support us and to give us equal opportunity have you done that for another woman?, have you been an encouragement to another woman? Imagine how different our world would be today? if we stood with each other and not fight each other; if we could stop laughing if one of us is going through life struggles, but care for another woman.

I vowed that I will never be the cause of another woman’s tear, i hope you will also join in and say 'I WILL NOT BE THE CAUSE OF ANOTHER WOMAN'S TEAR'

Gender-based Violence
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