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

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid