Biting the hand that feeds the family: the conundrum of female breadwinners in marriages
Since time immemorial, women have been subjected to abuse, discrimination and segregation in the sphere of socio-economic development. Policies and Acts such as the Gender Equality Act No 39 of 1996 have been enacted to reduce gender disparity especially within the South African context. As women were previously dependent on men financially, they were obliged to stay in abusive relationships. Surprisingly there are still economically independent female breadwinners who continue to stay in abusive marriages inspite of the fact that they could chose to divorce or separate from their husbands. This study sought to find out about the circumstances that makes female breadwinners to stay in abusive marriages. A qualitative research methodology was used to gather and analyze the data in this regard. A purposive sample of 10 abused married female breadwinners was drawn and the data collection method relied upon was interviews. The study established that abused female breadwinners stay in their marriages because of a plethora of cultural circumstances that emanate from the fact that women do not divorce their husbands as this will bring a bad omen to their parents. Some of the major circumstances that make abused female breadwinners so stay in their marriages are children, pride and status that is associated with being married. There is a need to address challenges and circumstances that abused female breadwinners face so as to enable them to break the chains that hold them to perpetual servitude in their broken families.
Keywords: Abuse, female breadwinners, circumstances, coping