Husband battering also widespread at the Coast

By Renson Mnyamwezi

It is not only in Nyeri District that men are increasingly becoming victims of gender-based violence (GBV).

The larger Taita District, in Taita-Taveta County, is also afflicted by GBV cases, said the area Gender and Social Development Officer Daniel Mulonzi.

Recently, an irate assistant chief in Wundanyi Division surprised many when she battered her drunken husband.

It is suspected the man came home drunk and started harassing the administrator as usual. "The administrator turned on her husband and taught him a lesson," said a teacher who witnessed the incident.

Many of the cases of wives beating their husbands go unreported owing to stigma , while others are resolved by village elders. "Men do not want such cases to go public for fear of embarrassment," the teacher, who declined to be named, said.

Mr Mulonzi said gender sex based violence is rampant in the region and that something urgent must be done to address the situation.

Conjugal rights denied

Speaking to The Standard On Saturday at his Wundanyi office Friday, the gender officer said several men had complained to his office that they were being battered and denied their conjugal rights.

"Some women are mistreating their husbands to the extent of sexually starving them and denying them food, among other needs. We have received complaints from several men who are being subjected to psychological torture by their wives," he said.

"When it comes to sex matters there’s a lot of mistreatment and in some cases couples sleep separately in their homes," he added. He cited the worst hit areas as Werugha, Mbale, Mgange, Mwanda, Wumingu and Kishushe locations.

"Some women especially those in their 40s, seem to be facing mid-life crisis and have become so powerful that their husbands have no say in their families," he said. The official’s remarks come in the wake of increased cases of suicide among men in the region that police attribute to domestic violence.

Mulonzi said his department in conjunction with the Provincial Administration and other stakeholders has embarked on sensitisation meetings to educate couples on the need to respect one another and manage their family issues amicably.

"Out of our sensitisation in public meetings men have been provoked and have come out to expose the serious problems they are facing with their wives," he said. Mulonzi at the same time said women have complained to his office that widespread alcohol and drug abuse had rendered their men sexually impotent and economically unproductive, perpetrating poverty and unfaithfulness among couples.

"Some women have also complained in our meetings that when their husbands come home drunk in the evening they just sleep," he added. He said rampant alcoholism has not only adversely affected education and income generating activities but also promoted poverty and breakdown in marriages.

The trend has led to the collapse of women groups and enhanced the poverty index in the region, added Mulonzi. Two DCs, Raphael Lemaletian (Voi) and his Mwatate counterpart Shufaa Mwijuma say such cases could be rampant.

"The problem with men is that they do not want to disclose information whenever they are physically abused by their wives," said Lemaletian in an interview.