1.5m men are victims of domestic violence:report

Sunday May 24 2009

Maendeleo Ya Wanaume chairman Njoka Ndiritu (left) and the organisation secretary Fredrick Wambugu (centre) during a press conference on Sunday. PHOTO/WILLIAM OERI

Maendeleo Ya Wanaume chairman Njoka Ndiritu (left) and the organisation secretary Fredrick Wambugu (centre) during a press conference on Sunday. PHOTO/WILLIAM OERI  

By BENJAMIN MUINDI

A report by a lobby group championing men's rights on Sunday said over 1.5 million in Kenya are victims of domestic violence daily.

The Maendeleo ya Wanaume organisation said even though they are battered by their wives, men find it difficult to report this to authorities for fear of social ridicule.

The findings show the campaign for the rights of the women has led to a reverse of the scenario and now men are at the centre of violence. The group carried out a survey in 40 selected districts in Kenya's provinces from August 2008 and has found out that between 1 and 1.5 million men are domestically abused by women daily.

The report shows that men have little say on issues that concern conjugal rights in their relationship and that women are the ones who determine when they should get intimate. In an apparent reference to the just-concluded sexual boycott called by a group of women activists, G10, the men said “this was equal to a domestic abuse against men.”

“It has been found out that victims of the violence are physically abused in their bedrooms at night and kicked out of the house,” said Mr Ndiritu Njoka, chairman of the group. He added that the men end up sleeping in the sitting room, bars or in the car. “We also found out that many men are locked out of the house if they come home late or drunk.”

Central province topped the list with 72 per cent of the men interviewed saying they were victims of domestic violence. Other provinces were Nairobi, Nyanza, Rift Valley and North Eastern in that order. “Our visit to the magistrate courts and chiefs offices revealed that many cases at the waiting list were separation and divorce,” he said.

The group observed that most women cases were determined according to the emotions they portrayed even when they were faking. “In Central and Nairobi provinces, we found out that there were rampant fake rape cases charged against men.”

But according to the chairperson of the Federation of Women Lawyers Naomi Wagereka, “the men are missing the point.” She said “the question should be to reduce violence and not who is being harassed more than the other.” The organisation pledged to issue a major press conference in reacting to the report on Sunday.

Nevertheless, Mr Njoka said “women from rich backgrounds tend to henpeck their husbands a lot and more than necessary.” “In a situation where a woman has a big body than the man they take advantage and batter their husbands.”

He said these cases go unreported because the men are scared of the social stigma associated with the act. “In other instances where the cases are reported to the police, the men are always not given a fair hearing,” Mr Njoka added.

According to the report, men stay in abusive and violent relationships to protect their children afraid that if they left they will never be allowed to see their children again. “The man is afraid the woman will influence the children badly by misleading them that he is a bad person or that he doesn’t love them.” The group called for active advocacy to fight domestic violence against men.