BY CLAUDINE MKAMBURI
Domestic violence stories are now common in the news and social media circles, each with its own dreadful twists and turns, often ending in tragedy. For a long time, domestic violence was viewed as women’s issue in Kenya since they were taken to be the main victims, with their cases being the most reported. In Africa, young girls and women have been taught over the years that they are the ultimate home keepers, they should accept men’s tendencies and endure marriage under all circumstances. But this ‘good wife’ mentality has led to tragic consequences.
Take the case of Ann Kiguta who has previously confessed that she walked out of a relationship that was riddled with abuse which started a few days before making her first appearance as a news presenter with a local TV station. This beauty says that her face was always bruised but the makeup managed to hide her scars well. Her comments after leaving were, “I felt that if I didn’t go on with my plans, I would be letting the violence to win,” she said. “I decided to move on for my baby and myself. At least I was financially stable when I walked out. Dependence is what traps many women in abusive relationships,” she observed.
Sharon Muthoni Muuru
The sad story of Sharon Muuru is told by her mother Connie Muuru. Sharon is no more having been beaten to death by her then live in boyfriend, according to her mother. Connie had been accommodating him because he didn’t have a job. At one point the couple moved to Connie’s place after Sharon’s boyfriend drained her financially and sold their household goods only to squander the money. “Her house help told me that Sharon used to be beaten and blood would splash everywhere in the room.” Results for her postmortem revealed that nearly all her vital organs had blood clots and other parts had pus. Connie says the suspect fled to Uganda on the same night after killing her daughter. Sharon’s mother has since established THE SHARON MUURU ANTI-DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FOUNDATION to provide a platform for people in violent relationships to come out and get help.
Currently the poster girl (woman) in Kenya for domestic violence is Jackline Mwende, the woman who was savagely attacked and her hands chopped off at the wrists allegedly by her husband. It is alleged that her husband attacked her for not giving him a child. Mwende has since acquired prosthetic arms and has a baby boy with the man she had an affair with, leading to her maiming. Asked whether she is still seeing the man she replied, “There had not been any further contact with him as we had only agreed that he make me pregnant and we go our separate ways.” Mwende says the affair was meant to save her marriage by producing child but in hindsight, she regrets not having moved out earlier and hopes other women can take decisive steps before it’s too late.
Many of the victims of domestic violence tend to keep it to themselves as they are scared of speaking up for fear of ruining their reputation and that of those close to them. Statistics according to the Kenya Demographic Health Survey has shown that between 37% -47%of women are victims of domestic violence while men rate at 5% for boys and 3% for grown males.
There are laws that have been put in place to curb domestic violence including the signing into law of the Protection Against Domestic Violence Bill 2015 that acknowledges numerous types of violence including verbal abuse, harassment, sexual violence in a marriage, incest, intimidation, stalking, emotional and physical abuse and forceful wife inheritance hence making it a little easier in the fight against domestic violence.
Despite this, there is still much to be done inorder to help the victims by creating platforms or safe havens for the victims. Domestic violence according to the World Health Organization is a global problem that needs to be addressed by putting it in the open so as to create awareness and forums where people can talk about it often.