This mindless violence, helplessness must stop

Domestic violence

In Kenya, over 40 per cent of women are likely to face SGBV during their lifetime.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

A friend was recently attacked by a maniac she was dating. I thought it was the occasional case of gender-based violence in Kenya or around the world until someone recounted the case to me.

The woman was hanging out with a male friend in a big town when the partner showed up, slapped the friend, forced the woman into a waiting car and they went to a living complex where he proceeded to assault her physically and sexually. He dared her to try and travel back to school where she was due to present her final-year project.

That was the short version of the story. The incident started with a phone call by someone who had the sole purpose of keeping tabs on who this woman was hanging out with. A few minutes later, someone was assaulted in public and there was a commotion that attracted onlookers, then someone was forced to board a vehicle in broad daylight.

The events culminated in the woman being battered in her own unit that had neighbours; she screamed, hoping someone would help, but no one did. After the man was done with his evil acts, he simply walked out of the house, went on to have a good time with his family, leaving the victim to nurse her wounds.

Arrest

She had to call her mother, who was a few hours away, to get help. Even then, they had to pay the police to make the arrest. No one came to the aid of the young man who was slapped. No one tried stopping a man from forcing a woman into a car. The driver didn’t object to driving. No reasonable neighbour tried to help; no one called the police, and if someone did, they didn’t show up.

Is the violence in Kenya culturally reinforced to the point where the family of the man thought that a few cows would be enough to make the incident okay? They offered cows to wish the whole incident away. Cows in exchange for a human being’s dignity! Sounds like a reasonable trade-off in our twisted society—an admission of guilt by perpetrators of violence who, somehow, think going to jail for rape and assault is a step too far. No, it’s not!

A quick introspection into the scourge of violence would reveal that we need to re-examine our cultural values. Parents raise children by beating them, teachers teach with an iron rod, lovers embrace with clenched fists, the electorate engage each other with weapons, police work is shooting at unarmed people, and the best punishment for a criminal in Kenya is lynching. Cabinet discussions sometimes centre around reintroducing caning in schools.

We should discourage violence as a tool for motivation or deterrence and maybe engage our most valuable tools, our brains, in the form of reason, in decision-making. It will serve us better if we use logical reasoning instead of instilling fear in our complex human relationships.

Alvin Leiyan, Narok

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