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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: DISCIPLINING ERRANT WIVES

A case of domestic violence

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.

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Comments

Diane Ezeji's picture

thoughts

I just got done reading "Woe to the Women, the Bible Tells Me So: The Bible, Female Sexuality and the Law" by Annie Laurie Gaylor. When I consider how we can change a worldwide culture of violence I don't know where to begin. It feels entrenched, like an infection that goes deep. Perhaps part of excising that infection is the willingness to look at sources of our culture that have been "off limits" before, such as religion. To be taught from childhood that to be a "good" woman is to be submissive and obedient is the opposite of the empowerment women need. The creation story itself teaches that woman was the source of original sin. That the answer to rape was for the rapist to be forced to marry his victim, etc.

Diane Ezeji

Ayunnie's picture

WOE TO THE WOMEN

Hi Diane,
Thank you for the comments and '"Woe to the Women, the Bible Tells Me So: The Bible, Female Sexuality and the Law" by Annie Laurie Gaylor' Is a book for me to read. In addressing violence against women we have to look at the root causes and i agree religion and culture plays big roles in this!

@ Nairobi KENYA
Women have impeccable character, if tapped society realizes quantum leap in development

JoneBosworth's picture

75 percent!

Thank you for sharing this painful story, Ayunnie. Through "Merab's" personal experience, our awareness of violence, individual suffering, is heightened -- it becomes real when we read of a working mother like Merub. Any one of us could be Merub.

Combining this personal story with data (FIDA's survey information), raises our awareness of the collective issue: 75% of women surveyed report being abused in Kenya. This is incredibly powerful. And, it raised the question for me: is domestic violence on the rise in Kenya or is it that women activists are gathering the data, reporting and taking action to lift the issue out strongly? Or, is it a combination?

I suspect that women like you, gathering and telling individual and collective stories of violence, give us much reason to hope! As Mother Teresa said, "we've forgotten we belong to one another." Your article reminds us of our shared responsibility for ensuring rights and protections, for focusing on humanity together. Thank you so much for this article and for what you do to ensure we "belong" to one another!

Keep this spirit of activism alive -- we are with you Ayunnie!

My very best,
Jone

Jone M. Bosworth, JD

Ayunnie's picture

Collective Responsibility

Hi Jone,
Thank you for your insightful comments. The survey with FIDA may seem to be exaggerated but the fact remains that not many women come out to report cases of domestic violence and many other forms of violence meted to them. in fact in the survey the analysts explained that some women did not know or think that abuses, slaps etc were a forms of violence. Awareness creation will help reduces the number down. Aluta continua!

@ Nairobi KENYA
Women have impeccable character, if tapped society realizes quantum leap in development

JoneBosworth's picture

Thank you!

Hi Ayunnie,
I absolutely do not doubt that many, many women do not label acts of violence and domestic abuse. Thank you so much for reinforcing that for me. I suspect that as awareness grows, the number grows. After awareness comes the actions to change -- which will reduce the number. It makes your writing and your work all the more critical as culturally, both women and men need to shift their perspectives about what domestic violence/abuse is so that real change can happen!

Thank you so much for your note. I did work with battered women early in my career in the U.S. and with our Tribal Nations and you have reminded (and inspired me) by sharing what you know and do!

My best,
Jone

Jone M. Bosworth, JD

Ayunnie's picture

Cultural shift

Hi Jone,
I am glad to hear more of your feedback on this issue and even learn that you once worked with battered women. I totally agree that we really need the cultural shift in my country. we will keep fighting for this course until we get there!

Regards

@ Nairobi KENYA
Women have impeccable character, if tapped society realizes quantum leap in development

tracimichelle8's picture

Powerful

Ayunnie,

Thank-you for sharing this story. I had not considered that many women may not label certain acts of violence as abuse. That perhaps they may even feel that it is "normal" to be treated unkindly. Thank-you for raising my awareness and for the important and inspiring work you are doing!

I look forward to a time when both women and men know that it is their birthright to be treated with kindness, compassion and respect.

In appreciation,
Grace

Ayunnie's picture

Birth-right

Hi Traci,
It was nice getting your feedback on this article. Thank you for the insightful comments that its our birth-right to be treated with human dignity. Our culture teaches and socializes us in the contrary, that women and girl-child are third class citizens and are equated as children and are all men's properties. Thank you for your encouragement I will keep on fighting for the course of freeing the woman from this cultural bondage and for her to realize her rights and defend them

ALUTA CONTINUA!

@ Nairobi KENYA
Women have impeccable character, if tapped society realizes quantum leap in development

Jumi's picture

Brave Merab

Hi, Ayunnie. Thanks for sharing this very personal story by the brave woman, Merab. I’m glad to read towards the end that Merab took the bold and necessary step of separating herself from the violent environment. The effect of violence on children is of equal concern to me in this particular case. I really hope that Merab’s children get some counseling and experience enough healing to help them move beyond the hostility they would have seen between their dad and mom. #TBTT is a timely campaign. Thanks to WorldPulse for being a part of it.

Ayunnie's picture

The bold step

Hi Jumi,
I am happy that you stopped by to give your feedback. I am happy too that Merab took this step to move out however we know many cases that end up to death. I recommended to her too to take the children for counseling I will follow up on this, when we had this interview she never thought it was necessary for the children to receive professional counseling and claimed to be busy following up the divorce case. Now I also see the urge.

Regards and happy human rights day!

@ Nairobi KENYA
Women have impeccable character, if tapped society realizes quantum leap in development

Pushpa Achanta's picture

This piece

Dear Ayunnie,

Kudos for this moving narrative. Let's reaffirm our commitment to encourage survivors of violence everywhere to express themselves freely. This will help them heal and hopefully drive the perpetrators to change their mindset and behaviour.

Warmly,
Pushpa

Ayunnie's picture

Encouraging Survivors

Hi Pushpa
I am delighted that we are uniting our voices to denounce wife battering. Lets keep on keeping on.

Regards

@ Nairobi KENYA
Women have impeccable character, if tapped society realizes quantum leap in development

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