Are Kenyan men suffering in silence?

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I sat through an interesting debate on Monday after reports emerged that 1.5 million men in Kenya are victims of wife battery.

The riding factor in the debate was that the figures are not accurate; “Who knows a man who has ever been battered by the wife?” those opposing these figures posed.

There’s even an argument being advanced that the Maendeleo Ya Wanaume Organisation is seeking cheap publicity by releasing such data.

The organisation has the onus to defend its research method but in the meantime I dare ask… if it is 500 men who are being battered and not 1.5 million should we sweep the issue under the carpet?

Those in defence of the data – who turned out to be men – argued that no man would be willing to publicly disclose he was a victim of domestic violence.

“Those who responded to the survey must have done so since it was anonymous,” one of my contemporaries opined.

I do not want to dispute the statistics outright as many want to do for the simple reason; if these statistics related to women, would people be so cynical?  I highly doubt it.

It is, however, worthy to note that nobody is disputing that wives may be battering their spouses; opponents are uncomfortable with “such a high” figure.

Let’s pause for a moment and reflect on this issue with temperance.  It could be true that more and more men in Kenya are becoming victims of domestic violence – albeit quietly behind closed doors in their homes.

If this is the case, then they need help… not the condescending attitude the data has elicited. After all, does it matter whether it is five men or a million of them falling victim? Isn’t it enough that there is a victim somewhere?

For those who have not kept up with the story, the survey was conducted in 40 districts across the country.  It ascertained that Central Province leads the list of regions where women batter their husbands with rates of 72 percent of men admitting to being victims of domestic violence.

Nairobi province followed with 60 percent, Nyanza, Rift Valley and North Eastern recorded 58, 40 and nine percent respectively.

Many of the cases, I understand, do not go beyond the bedroom and those which do are resolved at the clan level instead of being reported to the police for prosecutorial action.

I can understand why a man would not want to disclose even to his drinking buddies that his wife batters him, let alone the law enforcers.

Even if the statistics appear unusually high, they say where there’s smoke there’s fire.  We need to delve deeper into this predicament and assist those who have fallen victim.

They will – however few they may be – continue to suffer in silence.

Before I pen off, what’s the take of women’s organisations on this?

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