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Battered woman remained in abusive marriage to protect vows

By Jeckonia Otieno | August 3rd 2016

The mood at Jackline Mwende's home, four kilometres from Masii town along the Machakos-Kitui road, was sombre.

Family members and friends were gathered under the shade of trees at the homestead perched on a hill.

They were discussing the aftermath of last week's attack on her by her husband Stephen Nthenge that left her without hands. Ms Mwende's heavily bandaged limbs are testament of the painful experience she underwent.

Tuesday, when a team from The Standard visited Mwende, Bishop Charles Makau Kababu was giving words of encouragement to about 20 people who had gathered at the home.

Mwende watched as if in a trance. Life has changed for her. Simple things that she used to do like clapping are now impossible.

She cannot even tuck in her clothes and has to be helped by a family friend, Pastor Jane Ndeti, who had traveled all the way from Kitengela, about 50km away.

Perhaps the only people who might come close to understanding her pain are her parents, Samuel and Jane Muthoki.

Ms Muthoki broke down in tears as she explained what might have caused all the mayhem that had left her fourth born daughter without hands.

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"I accepted this man into this family because he was an orphan, and I allowed him to marry my daughter," said Jane.

Samuel described his daughter's wedding as a big fete.

"My daughter was a hard-working person who operated a kiosk not far from her maternal home."

"After secondary school, we enrolled her for a tailoring course," Mr Munyoki said of Mwende who was born in 1988.

As Samuel spoke, Mwende looked stoic, bearing the pain like a soldier.

Never in her wildest dreams had she contemplated her seven-year old marriage would break, and if it did not in such a tragic manner.

"He came home, knocked on the door and told me that was my last day to speak as he unleashed his wrath on me," said Mwende.

She had just closed the kiosk and was preparing to retire for the night when her husband attacked her.

But her mother said her daughter's marriage changed some years after the wedding, saying she wished she would have forced her daughter to walk out of the marriage.

"They visited us quite often after they got married but that changed and the visits stopped despite the fact that they lived not far from us ," said Muthoki.

When she inquired from her daughter why they no longer visited, she was told that her son-in-law had started drinking and going home late.

At one point, the man moved out to live on his own. When Mwende was asked to go back to her parents, she refused and maintained that she was going to fight to see her marriage succeed.

"She told me that because she had a church wedding, she would stay to keep her vows," said the mother.

After a tumultuous period, the next the mother heard of her daughter was when a call came through that she had been attacked by the husband and her hands cut off.

She said when she saw her daughter at the hospital, she lost consciousness because to her, Mwende was dead.

Pastor Ndeti helps Mwende straighten her cloths as cameras roll to capture the image of this woman who has been a victim of one of the most atrocious cases of domestic violence.

"I am asking men and women that if you are too tired of your spouse, let them go instead of maiming or killing them. I am just here to stand with this family and make them feel loved," said Ndeti.

She said despite the barbaric act, Mwende's life had not ended and friends like her, will ensure she gets a helping hand to make the wounds heal.

"The Government needs to come up with punitive measures that will stop people with such ill motives from executing them," said Bishop Makau.

Mwende said she will stay with her parents to heal and hopes a well-wisher will assist her get prosthetic (artificial) hands.

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