Susan is a survivor of a rape ordeal. An episode that she remembers too well, since the perpetrator was her own uncle. As with most African society’s way of passing verdict, the village elders, while drinking local wine, discussed the matter in detail. The verdict was a fine of five goats. Her uncle gladly paid and just like that, the matter was put to rest. Five goats to sweep away the tragedy of a mere babe, robbed of her dignity. The traumatizing memories still haunting her to date.
At age 17, soon after clearing her O-level, Susan experienced abuse again. She was married off to a wealthy elderly man in her neighborhood. Again, it was the elders who had decided her fate. Her future, discussed by an inner circle of men pointing to her on the outside. A hasty payment of the bride price is made upon the agreement of the price. The wealthy man now owns his bought possession.
Months later, the relationship started to grow sour. Beatings became more regular than breakfast. She lost her first baby that way. Her pregnancy could not endure against the continuous brutal attacks from her husband. Cries and complaints to her mother fell on deaf ears. After all, women are regarded as men’s property in this corner of the world. She surely would not receive any form of comfort or support. Sadly, not even from the woman who bore her. She is expected to quietly accept her lowered position in society. It’s a cultural thing. After years of physical, emotional, financial, sexual and mental torture, she has resigned to life as she knows it. There is nowhere to run too.
Her story is shared by many women, especially in the African continent. Gender Violence Recovery Center reports that 45% of women in the 15-49 age bracket in Kenya have faced one of more forms of gender-based violence. Of this, 64% of these cases committed, are by men known to the survivor. Meaning, they were not strangers.
Why are we, as men, silent about this? As a man, we have no justifiable reason to simply look the other way and do nothing! We are supposed to be the protectors. Instead, we are antagonists. Men should lead in promoting security for women and children. Building legacies that show a deep value for human life, respect and honor.
Let us start in our homes first. The incidents of domestic violence are shocking. Husbands should protect their wives. Brothers, their sisters. If the home is not safe, where will it be safe for our women and children? A real man is not silent about abuse. A real man acts with conviction.
Source: Kennedy Wahome