We Need To End The Shaming Of Women Who Are Divorced

One of my favourite Nigerian female singers is Tiwa Savage. I love how she makes me comfortable in my skin as a Nigerian woman. Some of her songs like If I Start To Talk and Celia’s Song are songs I go back to when I need to remind myself that healing from trauma is indeed possible.

Another thing I love about Tiwa Savage is the way she rises from negativity and effectively brushes misogynistic acts thrust upon her. Be it revenge porn. Be it sexism in the music industry. Be it even leaving a bad marriage and living as a single mother. Be it any of these…Tiwa Savage, as perfectly flawed as she is, is an important reminder that most times glowing for women often exists on the other side of abandoning negative men.

I clearly remember how she was shamed when she revealed the emotional abuse she faced in her marriage to producer TBillz. However, she ensured to leave him. She also doesn’t pay attention to naysayers who want to shame her for being divorced. However, she keeps rising in her career as a performer and songwriter.

All of the above said, Tiwa Savage’s life and the backlash she receives from men for living boldly and for being a divorcee is a painful reminder that we must do better for women. 

Why is it that women who are bold enough to divorce and leave men who are abusers are often shamed? Why is it that women and women alone are made to feel guilty should they desire to remarry or date if they are single mums or divorcees?

Why is it that instead of being celebrated and praised for having the strength to rebuild away from a discomforting familiar routine with a terrible man, women who leave bad marriages are made to feel as though they are terrible mothers setting  bad example to their daughters? 

Why don’t we praise them for actually instilling in their daughters the value of never ever settling for negativity? Why do we describe children whose parents are separated, as children from “broken homes”? This even when most homes that have both parents are not exempt from being trauma providers to their kids?

The irony in shaming women who are divorcees, is that women who stay in abusive marriages also experience shaming. You truly can’t win as a woman in a sexist setup. 

The same people who believe that women must not divorce for “trivial” things and that marriage is all about endurance, are the very people who will preach to women to leave abusive marriages when another report of a woman being killed makes it to social media. Even more saddening, is that the social media reports of women murdered are just a tip of the iceberg of the women who die at the hands of shame and the fear of being labelled a woman from a “failed marriage”.

Speaking with Nikkie, a Kenyan woman, she explained why women in bad marriages also shame women who divorce.

In her words: “This is because society would like to highly discourage other women from pursuing divorce. So that no matter how atrocious the marriage is when they remember the consequences of trying to leave, they stay put.

Also, women who are hanging on to harmful marriages but are not ready to leave hate to see others who are more courageous take the bold step they themselves can’t take by walking away.”

Nikkie went on to say: “Such women therefore discourage others from divorcing by shaming divorcees to lessen the shame they themselves feel of not being able to walk away. So they are projecting their own shame at the inability to leave on others. Also misery loves company so they would like more women unhappy but still married like themselves so they can commiserate together.

Men need women to stay married and will shame those who leave to deter other women.”

The reality is that the more we shame women who divorce, the more young girls watching think it is perfectly normal to stay, compromise and endure in even negative non-marital relationships.

Women were not created to suffer and it is high time we encourage young women to understand that having the courage to start over is something worthy of celebration.

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