The key to long marriages is perseverence. Screams of women being battered by their drunk husbands were common in muthithini village. No one intervened. Once in a while, the women in the neighbourhood went to try and stop the beating. On the fateful Friday evening, my brother and I had gone for our usual play date with Tumi. It was my turn to hide. As I was waiting to be found, I heard her dad in his drunken grand entrance. He hurled insults at his wife, my friend and my friend’s brothers.
I stayed hiding and so did everyone else. “You are all stupid!” he shouted. “Mbui, get out! This is my home.” He continued. We were all trembling with fear. We had previously heard him beat up his family but not from such a close proximity. Shortly after, we heard the slaps, the kicks and the screams. Tumi’s mama, Mbui, rushed back to the house and started packing her clothes ready to leave for the 100th time. Her dad demanded for food and that’s when we snuck out of hiding to save Tumi’s mama. We quickly rushed to the kitchen to serve him some food. What followed after we handed him the food was horrific.
He went to the nearby bush, took one of the popular canes, murerema, which was used to “discipline” kids in the local primary school. The beating that followed was unforgettable. This was our first encounter with gender based violence, even though we couldn’t put a name to it. Mbui always went back to her husband. After all, in marriages you have to persevere. I was so eager to share the events of the evening with my mama. However, I could not because I had defied one of her rules. “Do not go playing outside after dark!”
Nonetheless, I eventually opened up. Children were often the reason for women to stay in abusive marriages and relationships. In fact, one of my close friends and a person I look up to recently went through similar events. I could not believe it when she broke the news.
No sooner had she asked about the woman he was having an affair with, than the beating started. I was excited to receive her call in the middle of the night. It had been a while since the last catch up. “He beat me up Nancy!” she sobbed. “who beat you up?” I asked. It was her husband and had done in front of their children. The beating was not the hurtful part, doing it in front of the children was the worst. Her husband had just stripped off her respect, self esteem and silenced her.
There was an ounce of relief when she told me she had reported the matter to the police. “Finally someone was reporting.” I thought. To my disappointment, my friend’s family had made a collective decision to settle the matter amicably among family members. I am a big supporter of Alternative dispute resolution, however, in the case of assault and battery, it creates a pattern, a vicious cycle. Following this recent incident with my friend I started to casually bring up the issue of GBV up with my peers. We have covered topics on emotional abuse in marriages, gender based roles, patriarchy to mention but a few.
Allegedly, it is almost impossible to avoid atrocities, especially in African marriages. Of course I completely disagree. Violence is not African. When we know better, we do better. A man that abuses his wife, is likely to abuse your children. It is therefore important to re evaluate the decision to continue living in a hostile home that will have a lasting impact on children.
Useful Links –
- https://www.fidakenya.org/site/singleblog?id=10 – Number to call for free is 0800-720-50
- https://www.un.org/en/coronavirus/someone-talk-kenya-hotline-women%E2%80%94and-men%E2%80%94-crisis – Helpline is 1195
- https://gender.go.ke/gender-based-violence-family-protection/ – Numbers to call –