Within the space of days two high profile domestic violence court cases were resolved.
A few weeks ago athlete Oscar Pistorius was found guilty by South African court of culpable homicide, what we refer to as manslaughter here. In February last year he shot through a bathroom door in his house killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
Closer to home this week Jacqueline Uwera was found guilty of the murder of her husband Juvenal Nsenga. Nsenga was killed when Uwera run over him at the gate to their home last year.
In both cases the accused did not deny killing their respective partners. In Pistorius’ case his defence team were able to plant enough doubt in Judge Thokozile Masipa’s mind to allow him dodge a murder conviction. Uwera was not as lucky, though she was spared the death sentence. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Below the breath taking drama of the two cases, they and several other lower profile cases make us wonder about the state of our domestic relations.
From an evolutionary stand point men and women come together to perpetuate the specii. The state and religion have stepped in to regulate the practice a reflection of the institution’s importance in controlling power.
The traditional view has been to put the man at the head of the family because he was the bread winner. A hangover from a time when the men went out to hunt and protected their homesteads suing the force of their masculinity.
"A combination of issues not least of all the improved earning power of the woman and our slowness, on both sides of the gender divide, to adjust, is causing unprecedented friction...
Futuristic author Alvin Toffler suggested that power, who wields it and how it is projected has evolved over time. In the beginning the strongest man in the village, or the king with the largest army called the shots. But with money and commerce the power shifted to he who had the money, because not only could he enforce his will by force if need be (he could finance armies) but where coercion failed he could buy consent. But the richest man was soon surpassed by the one with access to information. Information or knowledge is the basis of all wealth so not only did this new power broker know more, he used this knowledge to generate wealth which in turn gave him control over the instruments of violence as well.
The world has moved on from the information age to the conceptual age, where it is the man who can create new knowledge who runs the show.
With universal education, the industrial age and the second world war women joined the work force, where the nature of work is increasingly intellectual narrowing the difference in contributions to the society between men and women.
These shifts while they go on around us are still being resisted at the level of our individual relationships.
In the home environment we continue to pander to the notion of the supremacy of the man. A notion which is coming under threat openly and surreptitiously.
A combination of issues not least of all the improved earning power of the woman and our slowness, on both sides of the gender divide, to adjust is causing unprecedented friction.
Some couples have decided to freeze their relations in time with the women staying home despite their ability to earn or if she goes to work she surrenders her earnings to her spouse for him to dispose of them as he sees fit.
In the circumstances where the woman has exercised her right to go to work and disposes of her salary as she wishes, the ensuing tension is mitigated either by the woman adhering to tradition and subsuming herself to her spouse (religion and tradition do a good job of encouraging the façade) or by keeping her income a secret while surreptitiously building her own capital base to safeguard her future and that of her children when push comes to shove.
When the pressure in the relation mounts bad things can happen to good people.