By: JOAN THATIAH
Kenyan women are nearly four times more likely to suffer from domestic violence than their men compatriots, a study shows.
An examination of data from the Economic Survey shows the most the vulnerable women are those aged between 25 to 29 years followed by 20 to 24 years.
The data also shows that men living in Nairobi and other big towns are more likely to be battered than their rural counterparts.
The findings also reveal that Nairobi, Nyanza and Western regions are leading in domestic violence for both genders.
Men living in Nairobi are more likely to be battered than those living in other areas of the county at 11.3 per cent, the study shows, while Western region is leading in domestic violence against women at 36.6 per cent.
The lowest cases of domestic violence against both men and women are experienced in North Eastern.
The findings show that the women that are least vulnerable to gender-based violence are those in the highest earning bracket, lending credence to those who have called for the empowerment of women.
This is more so because the study further found that the most vulnerable group to domestic violence is comprised of those who did not complete primary school at 30.9 per cent for women and 8.1 per cent for men.
“40.7 per cent of women have experienced domestic violence in their lifetime as compared to 10.9 per cent of men.
“This shows that among men and women of the same ages, women are 3.7 times more likely to have suffered from domestic violence than men,” Mr Kwame Owino, the executive director of the Institute of Economic Affairs said.
The study conducted by Nation’s Newsplex project together with the Institute of Economic Affairs, a public policy think tank, also found that women who have been married more than once are the most likely to experience violence.
The findings come hot on the heels of US President Barack Obama’s comments during his historic visit last week that Kenya’s growth was inhibited by the oppression of women.
The findings seem to affirm his sentiments.
MEN AND WOMEN NEED LEGAL PROTECTION
The study sought to find out whether both genders need legal protection as claimed by Maendeleo ya Wanaume chairman Nderitu Njoka.
“Although more women experience domestic violence than men, both of them need legal protection from domestic violence since they are equally victims,” said Mr Owino.
Despite the numerous reports of violence against men around the country in the recent past, the findings show that the woman is still more vulnerable to direct gender violence.
However, some experts we spoke to insisted that violence against women cuts across all socio-economic groups.
“Past academic evidence shows that gender-based violence is highly prevalent in the high earning income bracket.
“It is just less reported because people from this economic class feel like they have a particular image to maintain,” Dr Mumbi Machera, a University of Nairobi sociologist said.
Women who have been married more than once were found to be the most vulnerable to domestic violence with the study placing the probability of abuse at 37 per cent.
Widowed and separated men, on the other hand, were found to be more likely than married men living with their partners to have been victims of gender violence.
Based on residence, the research found that the prevalence of violence against women was near equal in both rural and urban areas.
Interestingly, however, among men, those from the urban areas reported significantly more instances of gender based violence.
HISTORY OF ABUSE
Dr Christopher Hart, a psychologist specialising in relationships, said most of the aggressors in domestic violence are those who have a history of abuse, perhaps going back into childhood, suggesting those who witnessed battery as children are likely to be violent when they grow up.
He added that alcohol abuse, isolation, a lack of resources and a wide difference in incomes were the other contributing factors.
“That tends to mean that it is worse in urban areas and in more economically stressed households.
“It could also be that people in urban areas are more aware of their rights and thus more likely to report,” he said.
Dr Hart agreed with those calling for equal legal protection of men saying they probably were abused just as much as women in the home, but were less likely to admit because of their pride.
“Kenyan women are probably no more vulnerable than men, the men would just not admit it.
“They are probably equally in need of protection.”