Inflated egos stop men from claiming maintenance

HARARE - Many considered Joseph Chiriseri a lucky man and it was for a good reason.

At a time when the Civil Courts were swarmed with women seeking maintenance from men, Chiriseri won an order for maintenance.

Very few men believed this was possible.

This was way back in 2009 but the situation has hardly changed.

Going through court records reveals that it is women still dominating the Civil Courts seeking alimony.

Some lawyers say this is due to ignorance of the law, while others believe pride usually keep men away from applying for maintenance from women.

According to a 2012 report, approximately 50 men were dragged to the Harare Civil Court for maintenance on a daily basis.

This suggests that an estimated 14 000 maintenance files were opened last year, up from 3 040 in 2011, 2 174 in 2010 and just 427 in 2008.

It sounds awkward for a woman to be “dragged” to court on criminal charges for failing to pay maintenance towards the upkeep of her husband.

And if there is anything that makes a man inferior, it is being taken care of by his wife.

For several years men have been taken as the breadwinners in family setups and they take pride in that responsibility.

African societies are patriarchal and women and children always look up to the father for protection physically, financially and otherwise.

Everytime partners break up, women always take custody of the children, especially those that will be under the age of 18, which is normally considered as the legal majority age.

By taking custody of the children, women typically approach the court for child support.

For many, they assume that maintenance is only applied for the upkeep of the children, but that is not always the case.

“What happens in maintenance is that both spouses have a duty to maintain each other and the off-springs of the marriage,” Harare lawyer Charles Kwaramba told the Daily News on Sunday.

The trend has always been the same over the years, yet no men appear brave enough to apply for maintenance, no matter how difficult the situation might be.

 “Maintenance depends on the means of the parties, which means that the party with better means or which earns more than the other incurs a bigger obligation such that if the spouses were to separate and the wife is employed and the husband is not employed, the husband is entitled to approach the court for maintenance and the court will have no choice but to award maintenance to the party that needs to be maintained,” Kwaramba said.

Top Harare lawyer Emmanuel Nyambuya echoed the same sentiments but said men were too proud to claim maintenance from their women.

“I do not see anything unique in men claiming maintenance from women. At times it will be ignorance on the part of the men or they will be protecting their personal ego,” said Nyambuya.

He said men traditionally shy away from being maintained by women, but said with the evolution of the society and people clamouring for equal rights, there was nothing amiss in men being maintained by women.

He said people stereotype the issue of maintenance and that stigmatisation is what makes it difficult for most men to come out in the open and freely claim maintenance from women.

Kwaramba believes the majority of men take pride in the “biblical” responsibility of fending for their families.

“So being a Christian man, I urge men to continue getting embarrassed with claiming maintenance,” Kwaramba said.

“It’s a moral, cultural and to some extent biblical issue because morally and culturally we have been brought up to believe that a man is the head of the family.

“It is still seen like a taboo or embarrassment for men to be seen to be looked after by women.”

The awarding of maintenance to men appears like a reversal of the norm, yet it is legally practical. - Tendai Kamhungira

Comments (1)

Oh it is totally because of man's huge ego; always the man with his stupid man-flaws and man-problems are to blame; women are perfect immortal and untouchable beings of humanity. When women shit, it smells like strawberries and rainbows. Fuck off

Yup - 18 November 2013

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