It is believed that there are a certain stages in life that every normal woman has to go through and being pursued by members of the opposite sex is one of them.
The marital status of the pursuer does matter to the majority, and when it is a married man in question, many people raise an eyebrow.
Views solicited from a number of women show that whereas, to a good number of people this is an abomination, to others it is a necessary evil, while others find it absolutely normal given the fact that this is Africa, the land of polygamy among other things.
“Married men are a pain in the neck,” says Maureen 21, a student at KIST.
“He comes in promising heaven on Earth, but if you make a mistake of giving in, your whole life may be ruined because, at the end of the day, he goes back to his wife and you are left out in the cold. That game is for people who are not emotional, which I am not.”
A good number of people concur with Maureen on this matter.
Jacqueline, 26, a secretary and single mother of one, shares a nasty experience she had with a married man.
“He came to me with his marital problems of how his wife was cheating on him with her boss and I couldn’t help it but feel sorry for him,” she says.
“He was really so nice and I wondered how any woman could cheat on a man like him”.
“After two months, I gave in, he gave me everything I wanted and he even told me that he was going to divorce his wife and marry me.
With that promise, I let myself get pregnant and that is when all hell broke loose.
He started avoiding me, refused to pick my calls and when I hunted him down to his workplace, he gave me 50,000 francs and told me to abort the pregnancy and afterwards get lost.
“I rejected his suggestion and I gave birth to a boy whom he has even never bothered to come and see.”
When asked why she has not sued him for child neglect, Jacqueline says that she has no time to waste but if the boy ever asked for his father, she won’t hesitate to reveal him.
“Those men just destroy people’s lives,” she concludes.
Christine Uwase (not her real name), 22, had a similar experience but she chose what she calls the easy way out.
“I aborted the pregnancy,” she says.
“First of all, I was young, so scared and what I feared most was how my father would react.”
Many women like Christine will testify that even if abortion in this case seems to be the easiest way out, it is the worst as it is very risky, painful and it leads to an emotional breakdown that one may carry to the grave.
“The psychological torture of knowing that you murdered your own child almost drives you nuts,” she says.
“Abortion is for emotional giants.”
For, Lydia Nyiraneza, a 29 year old accountant, it is more of a moral issue.
“I can’t do that to a fellow woman,” she says.
“I can’t move out with someone’s husband because I don’t want that to be done to me either. It is just not right, even Christianity condemns it.”
To some, the consequences have been worse than just a ‘mere’ pregnancy.
Venetia, 48, a market vendor in Kanombe tells a story of her late 24-year-old niece Florence.
“Florence was in her second year at the university studying law,” she says.
“We used to hear stories about her moving out with rich married men in town but we thought they were just rumours from jealous people.
It is not until she started being brought back home in sleek and expensive cars that we got worried.
As her aunt, together with other relatives, we took it upon ourselves to sit her down and talk to her but as it turned out, all this was a waste of time because soon after, she was moving out with a man that we were all sure was HIV positive.
“When I confronted her about it, I became an enemy.
She arrogantly told me that I should respect the man because soon she was going to introduce him as her husband and since he was rich, HIV was not a problem because it only severely affects the poor.
Not long afterwards, she got pregnant and her health greatly deteriorated.
She died during child birth, and, one month later, the child also died,” Venetia concludes breaking down into sobs.
For anybody who believes married men are out to infect people with the various STDs they carry may be right, their biggest prey are the young girls, mostly at the university, who will trade anything to live a luxurious life at the university.
“There are not only pregnancies and STDs to contend with,” argues Allen, a 32-year-old midwife.
“If the man’s wife gets to know about the illicit affair, she will by all means hunt down the other woman.
When they get to know them, they threaten them with all kinds of things including pouring acid on to their faces, bewitching them, beating them up or even killing them.”
“Others don’t just threaten, they actually act,” she says.
“Take me for example. I was moving out with a certain doctor that I used to work with.
His wife got my number from his phone and she started calling me, abusing me and sending me all kinds of threatening messages. I called off the relationship because she was really freaking me out. I couldn’t imagine my face scarred for life with acid.”
Phiona reveals a story of her workmate who had a rough time with a boyfriend’s wife.
“We were shocked when the woman barged in and started reigning slaps and blows on my colleagues face,” she says.
“My colleague was shocked; she actually didn’t know what was happening.
When we had calmed both of them down, the other woman said that she was tired of people stealing her husband and she revealed everything she knew about my colleague’s affair with her husband.
What hurt my colleague most is the fact that the man had lied to her that he was not married. She called the relationship off then and there.”
The men, on the other hand defend the idea of having a concubine.
Musa, 34, an auto mechanic, says that his religion entitles him to more than one wife, so the idea of having an affair outside marriage shouldn’t bother anyone.
“No one can feed on the same menu year in and year out,” he says.
“People need a change; otherwise we would all be malnourished. The story is the same in the case of women,” he says.
For Alphonse, a 58-year-old farmer, it is a matter of having fun while he is still alive as long as he gives her whatever she wants and she also delivers in return.
Other men argue that circumstances such as a heavily pregnant wife drive them to the arms of other women to cool it off.
Some say that if their wives nag them, they are forced to look for an alternative.
As much as there are a number of problems associated with moving out with married men, others do enjoy the chase.
“Married men are loaded; they will give you whatever you ask for without complaining,” says Annette, 21, a student at the university.
“They are not like these mean young boys.”
Linda, 32, a housewife in Remera says that she does not regret ever moving out with a married man because she eventually became his second wife and they now have three children.
“His first wife had to accept the fact that men are to be shared,” she says.
“You look at the number of women and compare it with that of men, women are almost twice [the number of] men so does that mean that the rest of us won’t get married?” she asks.
“Things have changed my dear, men are there to be shared,” she concludes.
Viola, 25, a bar waitress, says she prefers married men because they are mature in everything that they do.
According to her, they are less stressful because their visits are not daily, thus one is left with enough breathing space to do whatever they want.
Whatever anyone’s view about this issue, this practice may be here to stay, as issues of moral governance have limitations. How the issue is handled individually, some say, is what matters.