When songstress Rihanna came clean about abusive boyfriend Chris Brown, she was hailed for taking a stand against domestic violence, which the pop idol called a “big secret” that many women were forced to hide.
Now one of Zambia’s top singers is following her lead, condemning domestic violence – and her country’s tolerance of it – after revealing that she’d been badly beaten by her husband, a popular actor in the southern African nation.
Speaking publicly about her abuse for the first time in an interview with the BBC, pop star Saboi Imboela recalled how her husband, actor Owas Ray Mwape, had beaten her so badly she was forced to call the police.
She now wants to shine a light on the problem of domestic violence in her country, hoping that Zambian women will “stand up and say, ‘This is wrong.'”
Zambia, like many African nations, has a tolerant attitude toward domestic abuse. Most victims of the crime are afraid to speak out – or press charges – because of the stigma attached to it.
In her BBC interview, Imboela told how the police who responded to her call urged her not to pursue the matter further.
“They told me, ‘We know how you women are,'” she said. “‘We’ll lock him up and in a minute or two, you’ll change your mind and want him released.'”
The singer is currently working on “Yenze Nthawi Yakayena” (That Was Then), a song about women’s rights that she hopes will inspire her countrywomen who are trapped in abusive relationships.
“Men have always mistreated their wives,” she sings on the single. “But times have changed, and men must, too.”