Kenya minister disputes men battery claims

May 25, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 26 – Gender Minister Esther Murugi has admitted that Kenyan men are battered by their wives but said the figures given by the Maendeleo ya Wanaume group were exaggerated.

The men’s lobby on Sunday released a report which showed that 1.5 million men in Kenya were physically assaulted by their wives, but the Gender Minister disagreed.

“Most of us have small bodies. How are we going to beat our men surely if it is physical beating?” she questioned.

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Ms Murugi said the report was inaccurate and the government was considering commissioning a similar study to find out the actual figures.

“I think Maendeleo ya Wanaume sometimes exaggerates their figures for sympathy,” the Minister said.

She challenged men who have been facing domestic violence to come out in the open and talk about it.

“Let’s hear them speak. We have heard of atrocities against women. We have heard them being burned, we have heard women’s eyes being gorged, their hands being cut off by men but we have not heard a woman do that (to a man),”she emphasised.

The minister in charge of gender relations termed as ‘baseless’ the argument that the Women’s Enterprise Fund was a major contributor to the violence.

“I don’t think that is so when we (government) give women the loans to do their little businesses. One of the things we really stress is the money should not go and break up families. It should go and make the families a better place,” she said.

Ms Murugi said if men felt marginalised it was because they had abandoned their families leading to an increase in women led households.

“Men don’t need to be empowered; they own the land in this country. Women own barely three percent of the land so they don’t really need a lot of help but I think they need to rediscover themselves and rediscover their responsibilities,” she emphasised.

Between January and April this year the Nairobi Women’s Hospital which takes care of gender violence survivors recorded 107 domestic violence cases. Out of these only six involved men while 88 involved women.

The other 13 were children below the age of 18.

“Reality is now dawning on the society that issues of sexual violence, domestic violence or any other gender based violence is not an issue that you can just come out in the open and talk about it,” said Nairobi Women’s Gender Violence Recovery Centre Programmes Manager Teresa Omondi.

Ms Omondi also said the hospital had recorded 627 cases of sexual violence like rape, defilement or sexual assault out of which 27 were male survivors and 276 were women survivors. The rest were children.

“I think if men came out now and agree that it is also something happening within their midst then we will all be able to appreciate that gender based violence is not a women’s only issue,” the medical official said.


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