Battered men suffer silently

Thursday, November 25th, 2021 00:00 | By
Director for research and programmes at the National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC) Paul Kuria Photo/Courtesy

The number of men suffering silently in the hands of their spouses or partners, could be higher than imagined, it has emerged.

Gender experts now point fingers at societal pressures on men, as they choose to keep the violations to themselves.

Calls to have the voice of men heard have continued to gain momentum, however, with little statistics drawn of the men suffering behind closed doors.

Paul Kuria (pictured), a director for research and programmes at the National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC), revealed yesterday that the reporting of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) directed to men is minimal.

Data collection

“If you expect men to walk to police stations to report about their suffering in the hands of their spouses, it is a bit difficult. It is now becoming clear that many men are forced to wallow in depression often traced to cultural expectations and negative masculinity,” he said yesterday.

Even as much of this data is through surveillance and demographic surveys, the sad reality is that little is done to address the crisis now being described as silent.

While calling for advanced data collection, Kuria noted that probably due to the methods used to collect such data; it is also proving difficult, even for the authorities to determine the number of men suffering such conditions.

“So improvement of the methods of collecting this data is very critical, for instance gathering it among the children, because when you look at a report on the violence against boys launched last year by the government, you will be surprised to see the proportion of boys whose rights have been violated,” he said at St John Community Centre in Pumwani, where Men Engage Kenya Network (MenKen); Non-Governmental organisation hosted a free medical camp for men.

Failure to speak out
Fredrick Nyaga, the chairman of MenKen, observed that men’s failure to speak out on GBV against them can be blamed on the way they are socialised.

“From a time when a man is a little boy, the type of message that comes from the family, from the community is that you are a man, be tough,” he noted.

And because of this notion, he said men have remained in that closet where they are going to be forced to show that they are always strong.

If we get men on board, many of the issues you see happening today such as GBV, will be reduced, he observed. He advised men to stop suffering in silence.

“Please come out and call the emergency toll free lines 1195,” he advised.
Donald Wafula Khisa, 50, who lives in Kiambiu slum in Nairobi noted that he has witnessed many instances where men choose to suffer silently.

“We are violated but as men, we don’t talk about it because of being shy of the associated stigma. At the Kiambiu slums, you will hear so many men having issues in their households,” he said adding that some are denied their conjugal rights as a punishment for not providing adequately.

Meanwhile the government has continually affirmed it is committed to ending Gender-Based Violence including sexual violence by 2026 through intensifying its campaigns.
See related story page 14-15

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