Cheap brews in Central Kenya have contributed to the rise in cases of sexual and gender-based violence.
Murang’a-based activist Lilian Ruguru says many women suffer violence from their husbands when the men return home drunk and demand for food from them, despite not providing the same. “It is no longer a secret that women are suffering after they became the breadwinners of their families, as men wake up to idle at nearby market centres, where the majority do menial jobs,” said Ms Ruguru.
Speaking during a women’s meeting to address Sexual and Gender Based Violence, Ruguru said women needed protection, as they were also intimidated by their families for participating in political meetings.
“Women are blocked by the family and community from participating in political meetings, from where they access bursaries to educate their children, and the Uwezo Fund,” said Ruguru.
At the same time, Murang’a County Police Commander Donatha Kiplang’at said they had set up gender reporting desks to help victims of SGBV, majority of which are women and children.
Kiplang’at said reported cases were investigated and suspects taken to court.
Since September Murang’a has reported 11 cases of defilement, which are before the court.
There has also been one sexual assault case, according to Ms Kiplang’at. She said majority of domestic violence cases were withdrawn by women in apparent efforts to protect their marriages.
“In one of the cases, a man from Kangema is facing a charge of defiling his granddaughters, while his daughter and Nairobi-based clinical officers have been charged with assisting to procure abortion,” said Kiplang’at.
Men, the police commander said, fear reporting when they are battered by their spouses, for fear of stigmatisation and public ridicule. Lucy Njoroge, a former MCA, was recognised by President Uhuru Kenyatta during the Mashujaa Day celebration for her active role in the fight against gender-based violence and being a boy child advocate.
Murang’a Woman Rep Sabina Chege, while launching 16 days of Activism against Gender Based Violence, told women in abusive relationships to read signs and flee for their own sake.
“Don’t wait if you feel there are threats in the family,” Ms Chege observed, adding that in some cases women and their children had been eliminated by abusive spouses.
Chege, who was accompanied by Amani National Congress Deputy Party leader Ayub Savula and the party’s Secretary General Simon Gikuru, condemned FGM.