1.5m men battered by wives

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

They may look brave and confident in public, but they are battered daily by their wives.

A report by a lobby group championing the rights of men on Sunday revealed that more than 1.5 million men in Kenya were everyday victims of domestic violence.

In a case of reversed roles, the men are made to cook, wash clothes, clean the house and utensils and baby-sit.

Others are even raped and inflicted with bodily injuries besides being insulted.

The Maendeleo Ya Wanaume Organisation submitted that even though they were battered by their wives, the men found it difficult to report to authorities for fear of social ridicule.

The group said “battered men failed to report cases because they felt inferior and were subject to mockery.”

More than 60 per cent of the women interviewed in 40 districts nationally admitted that they had physically abused their husbands, the men said.

According to the survey, most of those affected were newly weds and those in old marriages. Their research found that men had little say on issues concerning conjugal rights because women were the ones who determined when and how they should make love.

“It has been found that victims of the violence are physically abused in their bedrooms at night and kicked out of the house,” said Mr Ndiritu Njoka, the group’s chairman, adding that the men ended up sleeping in the sitting rooms, bars or cars.

Many locked out

“Many were locked out of the house if they came home late or drunk,” he said.

The group dismissed the widely held assumption that women were always the victims of violence and said they were now the perpetrators of this abuse.

Central Province led the pack with 72 per cent of the men interviewed saying they were victims of domestic and physical abuse. Nairobi, Nyanza, Rift Valley and North Eastern followed in that order.

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 women’s lobby will hold a press conference to react to the report on Monday.

Nevertheless, Mr Njoka said that men stay in abusive relationships to protect their children.

“At the time of research, we found out that 39 per cent of current and former male politicians are also victims of domestic abuse and violence,” he said.

The group called for active advocacy to fight domestic violence against men.