As the numbers of suicide cases continue to soar in the country, the number of women suffering after being battered by their male counterparts is equally rising by the day.
Hardly a day passes without hearing reports of one who has been severely beaten, raped or even lost her life under the hands of a man who has ran amok.
Shockingly, the majority of the culprits in these harrowing incidences are people known to the victims and in most cases their spouses or fiancés.
A 2018 Report by Urgent Action Fund Africa (UAF), a non-profit making body working towards the eradication of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) across Africa, says the number of GBV cases reported as of January 2018 stood at 357.
According to UAF’s Grant Programme Officer Vanessa Bwale, violence against women is not only an affront against the dignity if women but also a bane towards Kenya’s attainment of her development goals.
“The upsurge in gender-based violence is affecting the country as a whole as the violence resulting in killings of women and girls, have dominated the limelight throughout the year. What is worrying is that Kenya has attempted to address the spiking occurrence of violence against women by enacting laws and policies, such as the Protection against Domestic Violence Act, the Sexual Offences Act, the Marriage Act, and the Matrimonial Property Act.
However there seems to be negligence from the police and the government in strengthening their response to GBV, as the law does not explicitly protect women and girls against domestic violence but protects women from inhuman treatment or torture,” reports Bwale in UAF’s document, The Rising Trend of Gender-Based Violence in Kenya: A call for Urgent Action.
Research shows that five in every 10 women in Kenya in the age bracket of 15 to 49 (about 47%) have suffered at least one form of violence or another.
The Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Legal Aid Clinic says it handled 2, 182 domestic violence cases from the period between the month of January and June 2018.
Similarly, a survey carried out by the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS) noted that physical, sexual and emotional violence were the most common forms of violence experienced by women in Kenya.
But the ugly face of domestic violence is not a stranger in Machakos.
For instance in Eastleigh estate, a low cost suburb of Machakos town, cases of domestic violence are not new in the area.
The area Senior Assistant Chief Patrick Loki confirmed that most of the cases brought to his desk involved couples, with women bearing the brunt of the conflict.
“Most of the women who come to this office single out unfaithfulness on the side of their husbands as the root cause of the problem. They accuse their husbands of turning violent on them anytime they questioned their unfaithfulness in order to avoid discussing the subject further,” he says.
A number of women also visit the office to seek help after being beaten by their husbands on allegations they have been denying them conjugal rights.
Drug and substance abuse has also contributed to a great deal to acts of physical abuse to women.
Agnes Mwikali, a mother of three, shared her story of how she suffered both psychological and physical abuse during her marriage that lasted for only five years.
Her attempts to salvage the union failed to bear fruit even after discussing the problem with her local church leadership and the village elders, prompting her to walk out of the marriage with her two children.
“My husband rarely slept at home and spent the better part of his days calling at drinking dens. He only used to appear in the house to ask for food and would often turn violent on me anytime I failed to serve him. Eventually, I had to walk out of the marriage for the sake of my life,” narrates Mwikali who now hawks fruits within Machakos town in order to fend for her two children.
Her prayer is for the government to come out and be more proactive in dealing with cases of domestic violence which she claim are bearing a huge toll on women and children.