February 25, 2018
By Anne Kiruku
East African News Agency, Arusha
A notable shift is evident in domestic violence trends – one from the age-old violence by men against women to the reverse.
Indeed, the rising numbers of reported cases of women assaulting men should inform new strategies for dealing with this emerging trend.
Unfortunately, data on this phenomenon is scanty, as many men find it a taboo to report cases of domestic violence on themselves due to cultural beliefs.
Only the extreme, horrific cases where physical injury has been afflicted, are reported or gain the attention of the media – and even then only after much probing.
Women have suffered for decades at the hands of men, many of them losing their lives as others live with permanent disability after physical assault by their male partners.
Many women are today living with psychological trauma as well after years of emotional and psychological torture by their male partners.
It should be made clear that both male and female perpetrators of domestic violence are criminals, who should be dealt with equally harshly by the courts, and that more should be done to help victims – whether male or female.
Shifting from violence against women to violence against men will not solve the myriad challenges in society associated with domestic violence; rather, it will escalate the problem that has led to destruction of the marriage union.
The greatest undoing to the fight against the vice is that domestic violence against men is viewed as a personal and private affair. Yet the vice is a glaring social, legal and health problem across the region.
A leading cause of the new trend is the desire by women to control, dominate and oppress men after many years of being subjected to the same.
The rise of women in social, financial and societal status, which has made many women economically independent due to the many women economic empowerment programmes, has liberated many of them.
As a result, today’s woman may not be easy to oppress like the traditional woman who was under tight traditional patriarchal society.
The primary motive of violence is to establish and maintain power and control the partner. The violated partner may resist the attempt to control him. In turn, the abusive woman may go a step further to regain control over her partner and violence erupts.
In the recent past, alcohol and drug abuse has become rampant among men. It is a growing menace that the society has basically failed to contain and control due to emerging cheap liquor and control of the drug market by rich and politically connected drug barons.
Many men are hence trapped in substances abuse and are unable to work and provide for their families. In turn, the burden of provision has been left to women, as a result, exposing many men to domestic abuse as women fight to have the men take up their traditional role as the family providers.
The torn family fabric intertwined with traditional culture has made men justify infidelity. Cases of infidelity are on the rise and affected women fight off either physically or psychologically.
It is unfortunate that the society laughs off domestic violence against men, yet it is a vice that is causing much psychological and emotional distress among affected men.
Physical injuries and deaths have been reported. In Nyeri County in Kenya, cases of women hacking their men’s private parts has become rampant and the county is known as the one leading in domestic violence against men, with specific assault being ripping off the man’s private parts.
If the violence against men is not fought with the same magnitude it has risen, the family fabric will be completely tattered and the social ills in the society will only escalate.
Fighting alcohol and drug abuse is key to dealing with the menace. Empowering the youth, who are frustrated due to lack of jobs, will go a long way in ensuring they are responsible citizens who can provide for their families.
The law enforcers must ensure cases of violence against men are taken up with the same zeal as those of women. The perpetrators must be made to meet the full force of the law.
They must recognise that husband being battered by their wives is a reality and the men need to be protected.