What normally comes to mind every time the phrase, Gender Based Violence is brought to limelight? In most cases; the first instinct is of a woman whose rights, are believed to have been trampled on or violated. Which is true but not entirely. Gender Based Violence, cuts across. Both men and women can be victims.
I guess women who have been violated, have received more airtime than their male counterparts. And or, our men have been made to believe; that they should not openly air their GBV grievances in public, and those who gain the courage to, in most cases become the societal laughing stock (as we will read on of a senator who faced the full ridicule of the society for seeking help from his otherwise abusive wife).
Gender Based Violence (GBV) can take various forms; it could be physical (being physically assaulted by a spouse), sexually (through rape), emotional torture (that could either be directly or indirectly administered).
We are hailing a culture that has suppressed the emotional expression of the male gender. Males have been endangered by making them believe they should always wear a straight face even in the face of death. Most of us grew up believing our fathers were the superheroes of this world, and they could tackle anything that came their way.
This reminds me of an incident, I once put my dad through. That to date, send chills down my spine, every time it crosses my mind. I could have been age between 9 and 10; when thieves came knocking at our door. It was around 10:00 PM or an hour on top. I recall, the thief had worn white sneakers ‘reeboks’. Before he/they could get their way into our house, I gave a shrill scream. As my learners would put it, a scream enough to awaken the dead.
My dad, whose name I shouted out with all my might, was swift to go out, to meet with the thieves. Apparently, we can never fathom the love of God upon our loved ones, the men showed a clean pair of heels. Probably because my dad was an administrator and they might have thought he was armed with a gun or something. Would you believe, those men, went to the other side of the road; hacked the watchman and made away with their loot? The watchman unfortunately died. (We came to know the story the following day at break of dawn). I thank God for sparing my dad who otherwise might have lost his life trying to bravely save ours!
The society has pumped an ideology that is somewhat unsustainable that the gender male is ‘all-powerful’, and the probable Yokozunas in our time. This is why the boy child cannot come forth and tell when their women beat them.
Let us ruminate on this classic example of our very own Wetangula, he braved it and publicly said he was physically assaulted by his wife, what did we do? We first ridiculed him, then laughed at him, and finally scolded him for ‘shaming the men’.
All sorts of teasing were meted at him. The vice president publicly scorned the then senator, and in mockery, urged him never to decry in public and air his ‘weaknesses’ of being abused (and worse, by his wife). All sorts of photos and cartoon creations, which diminished his maleness went viral on the social media platform, from his swollen face to bandaged body to everything that could portray him as a weakling were used against him for coming out publicly against the things out of his control (whether he lied or said the truth, would be hard to tell, I am writing based on what he told the nation.)
We are at it again, this week alone, the social media especially Facebook users, have whistle blown the rot in our society! By posting gruesome videos of a man beating his wife (because of hearsay; apparently, someone reported to him that the wife- Mwende- was herding their herds with some other men (insinuating infidelity)). The increased frequency of GBV is worrying (the course could be a story of another day). But without a doubt, violence at whatever level is wrong!
The other highly watched video, which actually made the DPP ask for the perpetrator’s identity, was one of an alcohol female vendor who beat a man to a pulp. Apparently the man is, believed to have not paid for his gulp, as the woman kept shouting ‘Lipa pesa zangu’ a loose translation of pay me my money. The young man, according to the video was drunk to the core, and possibly was unable to defend himself. Chances are, if he comes to (have a glance of the demeaning video), in his sobriety, he might not wish to come to the limelight and give his side of the story. Why? He may end up being ridiculed by his peers.
Last but not least, it is such a shame the community we are living in now. I hear it is called the internet generation. As much as it was called for to highlight the societal rot and let the country know a great deal of people face GBV which not all make it to the main stream media, you are left to wonder where we threw our morals and empathy as a people. At this rate, I’ll be damned to pick an argument with anyone on the streets, if I do, I will then be watching myself on the TV all bandaged up in a hospital bed!
The rate at which snapshots are taken at the expense of the victim’s protection is alarming! People nowadays are first to share the news than salvage the situation. A story is told of a middle-aged lady in Kakamega town who took her own life after being forcefully grabbed by a madman who ended up raping her in the full glare of the bodaboda operators who cheered the madman on!
As a society, we should work together and fight any kind of violence. Men should be encouraged to talk more on the suffering they face behind those close doors.