Gender Based Violence: The Role of Men.

It is 11pm, I am struggling to finish my homework due 8am the following day. It has been raining the past two hours, I have to consistently change my sitting position due to the leaking roof. My two brothers and sisters are staring at me, bundled in one corner of the house they can’t find sleep, and their bedding are soaked in water. We have not had electricity for the past three days, three candles down, one to go. On the other side of the room, I have been hearing some whispers the past one hour. I can’t quite clearly hear the words. I can only hear a few words such as “Stupid, Ndoa (Mariage), Watoto (Children), School”.  Eventually my brothers and sisters find a “comfortable space” and they eventually find sleep. In such situations, you thank God for at least three straight hours of sleep, which is always difficult. The fact that your house is next to the main river does not make the situation better.

The whispers in the next room are now becoming louder, more commotion and eventually I hear a big bang, I can hear every single word this time. This is not the first time it is happening. “I don’t know why I married you, you are so stupid, and you need to go back to school”.  I am getting very uncomfortable with these insults. At this time all my brothers and sister are up again, the rain has subsidized, all eyes on me.

“Mama analia” (Mum is crying), my younger siblings start crying as well. “Nyinyi Mnalia na hakuna mtu amewapiga” (You are crying and no one has beaten you). I can understand why they are crying though.

Eventually I hear a bang on the door. The neighbors are up, I go into the kitchen and grab a knife. While most people have self-contained houses, this is a self-contained room, when you sleep your head is in the sitting room and feet in the kitchen. You stretch your hands and they are in the sitting area. I decide to hold on tightly to this knife.  I have to make someone pay tonight, this is not the first time this is happening. I point the Knife straight at my dad.  This just an example of many children who are forced to experience Gender Based Violence at an early age, unfortunately with hard economic situation, the families cannot afford to pay hospital bills.

A report published by The National Gender and Equality Commission states that the average cost of medical-related expenses per survivor and family amounts to KES 16,464; reporting the incident to the chief and community structures costs KES 3,111; reporting to police costs KES 3,756; productivity loss from serious injuries amounted to KES 223,476; productivity loss from minor injuries is KES 18,623; and productivity loss from premature mortality from GBV amounted to KES 5,840,664. The average medical-related expenses per household is KES 3,417 after outliers (extremely high costs) were removed.

This means that for a family of seven leaving under three dollars a day, it is very difficult to afford the cost of medication.  Most women and girls who can’t afford the cost are at the mercy of various service providers like NGOs, community hospitals and village elders who are sometimes overwhelmed by the many cases.  European Institute for Gender Equality categorizes Gender Based Violence in four forms. Physical Violence, Sexual Violence, Psychological Violence, Economic Violence. What is the role of men in ending Gender based Violence and how can they play a role in supporting the family? I suggest the following ways:

  • In a patriarchal society, men should take use their power not to fuel GBV, but to stop it in families, communities and the nation. Confront violent attitudes.
  • Volunteer with Anti- Gender Based Violence project. Seek to understand. This will also give you an opportunity to educate yourself.
  • Involve other men in the discussion.

Garden of Hope Foundation has been working to raise awareness on Gender based violence the past 5 years. We have partnered with various schools and youth organizations to offer training, counselling and support to Children, women and youth.

As the world mark 16 Day against Gender Based Violence, I call all men to take action and stand for what is right.

Victor Odhiambo

Co-Founder and Executive Director

Garden of Hope Foundation