Why battered men would rather turn to prayers than go to the police

Most men who suffer gender-based violence (GBV) do not care reporting to authorities because they are likely to be ignored.

According to research, cases of men being violated have been rising due to changing gender roles at the household level, but the victims suffer in silence.

The survey titled ‘Gender-Based Domestic Violence against African Men: A Case of the Gusii’ indicates that polygamous men suffer more domestic violence compared to those in monogamous marriages.

The study by Javan Mokebo of the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Rongo University, in 2018 further revealed that if the victims were either persuaded to seek help, majority, 59.4 per cent, would still keep to themselves, another 27 per cent would alert family members while 9.4 per cent would seek intervention from religious leaders.

Men in Kisii and Nyamira mostly trust religious leaders and spiritual intervention compared to local administrators or the police, who they claim “ignore cases of GBV against men or handle them casually.”  

Data at the Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital indicate that about 50 per cent of male GBV victims in Kisii largely remain silent, 19 per cent employ self-defense mechanisms while 13 per cent resort to violence.

Kisii County Head of Gender Mainstreaming and Mental Health Focal Person, Ruth Mogaka, said most GBV cases on men are reported at the hospital as normal physical injuries or assault where the perpetrators are never identified and “victims are never ready to reveal proper history in the violence. The Gusii community has a culture that men are not allowed to show emotion and pain.”

Family members interviewed reckon that GBV leads to separation, divorce, extramarital liaisons and new polygamous unions.

Victims also suffer a wide range of mental related illnesses. Besides depression, anxiety, insomnia, suicidal tendencies and low self-esteem, they are likely to abuse drugs.

Kisii County Police Commander Francis Kooli has urged men and women not to fear reporting such cases.

“We have men dying of stress and depression because of the challenges they are facing at home,” he said.

Esnahs Nyaramba, an anti-GBV crusader, asked the Government to declare violence against men a public health problem, besides assessing whether existing mitigation strategies address the whole gender framework.

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