The number of men reporting rape by women has medical experts at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) in Nairobi raising questions.
Among 385 rape victims treated at the hospital during a three-year period, 35 were men with 15 claiming to have been assaulted by women.
But researchers led by Dr Eric Munene Muriuki of the University of Nairobi, with colleagues from KNH, the University of Washington, US, and University of Manitoba, Canada, think the men are not being sincere.
“Men claiming assault by women raised the question if these were genuine sexual assault cases or men afraid to seek medical help after consensual sex,” says the study first presented at an Aids conference in Australia.
A version of the study published this month (June 1) in the journal Aids Patient Care and STDs shows the researchers assessing the uptake of medication by rape victim to protect against HIV infections at KNH.
It is recommended that rape victims be put on HIV prevention treatment called Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) within 72 hours of the incident.
In this case, the researchers seem to suggest the men who claimed being raped by women may actually have been involved in some consensual but risky sex for which they sought PEP under cover of rape.
The medical researchers were also surprised by high rates of male-to-male cases of rape at the Gender-Based Violence Recovery Centre of KNH.
“I understand why this may surprise the researchers but ideally it shouldn’t,” says Dr Julius Gathogo, a senior lecturer in religious studies at Kenyatta University.
Dr Gathogo says he is hardly surprised by the cases of men running to KNH allegedly on being raped by women. He notes that with improved gender balance it means men relinquishing some of the exclusive power they have had over women including violence.
“Hence we expect to hear all forms of violence by women against men, including ironically rape,” Dr Gathogo says.
In 2015, Dr Gathogo published a study, in the journal Theological Studies, on the views of Kenyans on men battering by women. The study covering 26 of the 47 counties, the author says had then been prompted by a spike in battering of men by women in central Kenya around 2014.
Like the researchers in the KNH study, he says Kenyans had also expressed surprise at the battering of men as reported then in the media.
“My take is, gender violence is no longer restricted to women by men, but also to men by women as well.”
Rape, he explains is part of the said violence. “So, if men can rape women, women likewise can do so and eventually hurt men’s genitals,” Dr Gathogo told Saturday Standard.
In his study he points out that sex was a major cause of the evolving face of female to male battering in Kenya.
Sex-related causes of men-battering, the study indicated was because of denial of conjugal rights by drunkard or busy spouses. The other cause of male-battering, study participants said, was marriage to older women who underrate younger spouses.
Again, the study says when a sexually promiscuous man infects a faithful woman with sexually transmitted diseases, a woman may get out of her senses and wildly attack an unsuspecting spouse – and thereby injure him fatally.
“Violence against men that includes verbal, psychological, pouring hot water, penile amputation will definitely increase,” says Dr Gathogo.
Back to Kenyatta gender violence unit study, like others similar investigations it shows most of the rapists, 72 per cent were known to their victims.
“There was family relationship in 51 sexual assault cases, 40 were immediate family members while 11 were distant relatives,” the study says.
Friends were implicated in 59 cases and 163 others who were: 12 per cent classmate, 10 per cent workmate, 1 per cent employees, 7 per cent employers, 6 per cent neighbour, 12 per cent taxi driver, 1 per cent police, 1 per cent house helps.
While most of the rape survivors (207 in the study) had been put on PEP, only 70 of these completed the recommended 28 days of medication. “Only 21 of those on PEP returned for repeat HIV test at 3 months,” the study says.