Being back in Zambia, the land of MCP (multiple concurrent partnership), there isn’t a day that goes by when there isn’t some conversation of extra-martial relationships, mainly from the men’s point of view. Rarely do people discuss a wife’s infidelity – I guess because, though it is becoming more common, it is still pretty rare.

Men who have ‘other wives’ (mistresses, girlfriends, side-plates, ATMs (assistants to madam), small house, whatever you choose to call them) is quite common in Zambia, to a point of seeming to be expected and accepted. But people still comment on it, so maybe it’s not as accepted as people think. Though married men get away with it, while the wives are the victims and the other women are the sluts, home wreckers, and even on some occasions assaulted by the wives – there has been the public case of the woman who had the other woman murdered and a couple of cases of acid thrown on the mistress’ face.

My personal opinion of this is that wives are not victims, they choose to be if they want to be, but they are not by default victims and women need to stop this mentality. I know what you’re thinking, it’s easy for me to say this because I’m not married. True. But I also hope that if i get married I wouldn’t accept my husband being unfaithful to me.

The men get away scott free. Women blame the other woman, and in some cases the other woman can and should be blamed, because there are some evil women who knowingly go after other people’s husbands. But a lot of married men actively pursue these other women – because they know they can. Sure there is the onus on the other woman to say no to these men, but why should she?

If a single woman, wants to just have fun and not settle down with someone, why is it her problem who the man is? Of course if the said woman falls in love with the man, who obviously won’t leave his way (do they ever?), then she really is up sh*t’s creak and shouldn’t be in that relationship.

I’m not at all defending the other woman, I’m just saying that as a married woman, it was you and your husband who made those vows and if a man isn’t honouring them then put up or shut up. It’s like any other areas of our lives, you don’t like your job, stop whining about it and quit; you don’t like being fat, go on a diet or accept it, etc. But don’t get fooled, you aren’t a victim, we get treated the way we allow ourselves to be treated. I’ll concede that our culture doesn’t really tolerate divorce and we do have traditional says that express the fact that a man’s infidelity won’t break the house, but when your happiness and health (hello, HIV is alive and well) are at stake, then where does culture and tradition get you? As one of my girlfriend’s said, I’d rather be single and happy, then married, alone, and unhappy. Anyway, I’m not that ingrained with my culture, so again, maybe for me it’s easier said than done.

Women have to learn to be empowered, the other day one of these health programme managers told us that the concept of being faithful to one person wasn’t really understood here, because being faithful meant you financially provided for the person and the kids. And herein lies the problem. Until women are financially independent and respected they can’t make the best decisions for themselves. But then again, some of these women are financially independent and they still stay in faithless marriages. As for the whole ‘we’re doing it for the kids’ excuse, sorry but that is all it is, an excuse. We learn about relationships first and foremost from our parents, so what are you teaching your kids? All you’re doing is perpetuating the cycle.

Ok, now I feel like I’m getting self-righteous and high and mighty so i’ll leave it here (and look for my pet cats! lol). It is only my opinion and as a single woman, I guess it is easier for me to say this than if I really was in the situation…

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