DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: DISCIPLINING ERRANT WIVES
In many African communities it is normal to discipline an errant wife. Even women are socialized to expect some beating from their husbands as a show of love. This is outrageous, many women and equally men have ended up losing life due to domestic violence. In a recent workshop I conducted on Gender Based Violence, one participant Merab* narrated her story:
Merab* and Micael* tied the knot in a colorful wedding in 1998 in Nairobi Kenya. Merab continues, “Just after the honey moon I realized Micael was hot tempered, he would shout at me for very flimsy reasons as for example not ironing his clothes on time. He was also a chauvinist who will never assist in any domestic work. Both of us were working but he would expect me to do everything for him while he watches TV or reads a news paper. Five years into our marriage we were blessed with two children. The unfortunate thing occurred; Micael lost his job and I became the sole bread winner. Micael started drinking heavily after losing his job, he drunk all the savings and when he gets home he will be very violent: both verbally and physically. He would abuse me using female reproductive organs and even my mother’s organ. I felt terrible. I wanted to run away but I could not because of the children. He also started beating children without any apparent reason. One day in 2007 he arrived at 2:30 am, he demanded for food, we had eaten sukuma wiki and ugali (Kale and maize floor) he was annoyed that I gave him food without meat. He took the plate and hit me hard in the head and I passed out just to wake up in the hospital. My neighbor told me that my son is the one who woke them up, that his mother was dying. They found me in a pool of blood and my husband was nowhere to be seen. I had to be stitched and transfused as I had lost a lot of blood. During my stay in hospital my husband never visited me. In hospital I made a decision never to return to my husband. I am still following up the divorce proceedings in court.”
Reported cases, like Merab's, are on the rise in Kenya, according to a 2008 report by the Federation of Women Lawyers of Kenya (FIDA) 75 percent of women they surveyed reported being abused. It is so sad that domestic violence is in the rise in Kenya. We need to end this!
During this period of 16 days of activism on gender violence, I would wish to remind all that it is our responsibility to respects everyone’s right. All of us are entitled to their rights!
The names have been changed for security purpose.