Burn the food, refuse to have sex and neglect the children — these are some of the surest ways for a Kenyan woman to get a beating from her husband.
Should these acts of provocation not yield results, she can also argue with her husband or go out without informing him, with sure-fire consequences.
As the world began marking 16 Days of Activism on Violence against Women this week, Katindi Sivi Njonjo of the Institute of Economic Affairs released her Youth Fact Book: Infinite Possibility or Definite Disaster?
Culling data from recent research efforts published in various credible sources, Ms Njonjo’s fact book turns secret government documents into a public resource.
For example, the data from the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey, 2009, reveals that many young women between the ages of 15 and 34 believe that burning food, refusing to have sex, getting into an argument with the man, going out without asking the man’s permission and neglecting the children should attract a beating from the husband.
Up to 40 per cent of young women in this age bracket believe that the husband would be right to beat them if they neglect their children.
Conversely, 31 per cent of the men in this age group agree that neglecting children should attract a beating for the wife.
Where 30.2 per cent of the women surveyed believe that a wife should be beaten if she goes out without telling her man, only 24 per cent of men believe it is right to raise your hand against the spouse in such circumstances.
Refusing to have sex with the man should attract a beating for wives, according to 21 per cent of the women surveyed while 13.5 per cent of the men believe that withholding conjugal rights should be a ticket to corporal contact.
Arguing with the man should provoke a beating, according to 24 per cent of the men surveyed against 30 per cent of the women.
Women take burning food more seriously than men, with 13 per cent expecting it to lead to a beating against 8 per cent among men.
Not all women in Kenya have an equal chance of getting a beating from their husbands, however. Education and wealth reduce the expectation of wife beating in men and women.
Women who hold a salaried job are less likely to support wife beating than those who are unemployed or work in underpaid enterprises.
Urban men and women are less likely to advocate wife beating than their rural counterparts. Nairobi has the lowest number of women expecting to be beaten, at just 10 per cent.
There is, apparently, also a shortage of men willing to beat their wives in Nairobi, and those who look upon it as a fitting cultural practice believe it should only apply when children are neglected with 20 per cent support among women and 25 per cent among men.
Even so, women in Nairobi think it is not a big deal to burn food, with just 2.7 per cent thinking bad cooking should result in a beating against 5.5 per cent of the men.
Western Province is the headquarters of wife beating, where 40 per cent women expect to be beaten. There is a deficit of wife beaters there, though, with just 20.6 per cent for the men ready and willing to beat their wives.
In Rift Valley Province, 36 per cent of the women expect a hiding from the hubby, and the men are not unwilling, at 22 per cent.
In these two regions, the egregious offences in ranking order are neglecting children, arguing, going out without informing the man, refusing to have sex and burning food.
In Central Province, interest in wife beating is middling, with expectations among women at 18 per cent and 20 per cent among men, but both genders agree that neglecting children is a grave offence.
Those women who are married or live with a man, have separated or divorced are likely to support wife beating rather than those who have not attempted these blissful unions.
As women have more children, so too do their chances of getting beaten. Women who are divorced, widowed or separated, those who have married more than once or even been married for over 10 years are soft targets for batterers.
The actual numbers on abused women bear out the social attitudes. Abuse figures are highest in Nyanza Province at 37 per cent, followed by Western Province at 32 per cent, Rift Valley 28 per cent, Central 26 per cent, Coast 25 per cent and Eastern 23 per cent.
Nairobi and North Eastern provinces have the lowest incidences of abuse at 18 per cent.
What do women do? Perhaps have more sex, burn less food, argue less with men, put a GPRS tracker on your left foot so hubby knows where you are, and do not — ever — neglect the children.
(You can read the book at http://ieakenya.or.ke/documents/Youth%20Fact%20Book.pdf)