News / Africa

Cases of Domestic Violence Increase in Kenya

Experts say poverty, alcoholism and gender roles encourage abuse

Cases of Domestic Violence Increase in Kenya
Cases of Domestic Violence Increase in Kenya

Multimedia

Medical and human rights groups in Kenya are reporting an increase in cases of domestic violence. Experts say the increase could be due to a rise in violence, more reporting of domestic violence or both. Life with an abuser can mean frequent batterings and persistent fear.

Florence Wanjiku lived that life for 10 years with her husband, an alcoholic. She describes one drunken night. "He went to the kitchen, grabbed the wooden spoon, came with it, started beating me up the way you beat a little child, using a stick or something. But unfortunately he hit me so hard it broke on my scalp and my scalp got a cut. It was so deep that I had to be stitched eight stitches around here," she says.

Reported cases, like Wanjiku's, are on the rise in Kenya, medical and human rights groups say.

Teresa Omondi is program manager at the Gender Violence Recovery Center in Nairobi Women's Hospital. It treats victims of domestic violence. "We have had a drastic increase of numbers. We started from around 299 in 2006, then we moved to 412 in 2007, then in 2008 we had another 400 and over," she says.

Domestic violence has been a long-standing problem in Kenya, particularly in rural areas.  Deeply engrained beliefs about gender roles and marriage have encouraged the practice, says Ann Njogu, executive director of the Centre for Rights Education and Awareness (CREAW).  "In a patriarchal society, domestic violence is actually recognized as one way of disciplining one's wife. In fact, even the society socializes you as a woman to anticipate this discipline. It is so deeply inculcated in many peoples' minds. We have women who say, when they have not been beaten, their husbands have stopped loving them," she says.

Experts are divided over statistics that show domestic violence is on the rise - and what they mean.   

According to the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey, 39 percent of the women surveyed said they were abused by a husband or partner.
 
But a 2008 report by the Federation of Women Lawyers of Kenya, or FIDA, says  almost 75 percent of women they surveyed reported being abused.

FIDA executive director Patricia Nyaundi explains. "The rate of domestic violence is higher than what is reported. Based on our own experience, if you ask a woman, 'Have you ever been beaten,' she will say 'No.' (But) if you ask, 'Have you ever been verbally abused,' she will say, 'Yes, occasionally.' We had a study that also dealt with issues around frequency. Some women will say, 'I've just been slapped once, so I don't know about domestic violence.'"

Experts also disagree on the reasons for the recent increase in reported cases.    

FIDA's Nyaundi says more women are coming forward because more are aware that violence is wrong and that it's more than just physical, and more believe that it is acceptable to walk away from an abusive situation.

But other experts say domestic violence is occurring in more households because poverty and alcoholism are increasing.

Teresa Omondi of The Gender Violence Recovery Centre. "Every single day our statistics show a minimum of eight new cases - not that someone was sitting in their homes and then they heard about this centre and they thought of something that happened to them two years ago and they think, 'now I should report.' It means it happens on a daily basis," she says.

Ann Njogu of CREAW says her organization encourages men to tell each other that domestic violence is wrong and must stop.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.

The Flying Greek

Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid