– By Anthony Simiyu
Over the years of my upbringing, life has made me understand and appreciate the family as the basic unit of society. A family is basically the product of the union between two adults of the opposite sex who freely consent to the union. The increasing cases of violence against men have left me with endless chains of questions: Does macho-man still exist? Is the masculine race on the verge of extinction? Do women have an extra rib (from the creation theory on the Garden of Eden)?
A man is the head of the family. How many times have we heard this statement and its paraphrased forms? Such phrases incite my mind to infer that the marriage institution has a form of hierarchy with the man as the Chief Executive and the woman as his deputy and so on. Come to think of it, Article 45 of the 2010 Kenyan Constitution provides for equal rights at the time of marriage, during marriage and at dissolution of the same. At this point, I am convinced that in marriage power-sharing is inevitable and no one is legally bestowed absolute control over the other.
The reports on men in Nyeri being assaulted by their better halves or should I say ‘bitter halves’ is an indicator that there still exist similar incidents that go unreported all across the nation. Men are known to remain silent on matters likely to prick their ego-inflated balloons and prefer to hush their voices when they fall victims of domestic violence. I take this opportune moment to applaud the brave men who have come out in the open on behalf of those I choose to refer to as cowards who still suffer in silence, to put things in black and white that indeed men are also vulnerable when it comes to domestic violence. It’s because of such confessions that civil rights groups and authorities concerned with protecting men have sprung into action petitioning the government to enact laws to protect the family unit against domestic violence. What shocked me most was the fact that a lawyer was among the silently-suffering lot. Wasn’t he privy to Article 28 of the Constitution which provides that every person has inherent dignity and the right to have that dignity respected and protected? I am tempted to imagine he freely consented to having his right infringed.
In the interests of our future generations, do we ever pause to engage our thoughts on domestic violence and what it puts them vulnerable to? I am quite relieved that the causes of the vice are well known to us but then again, just knowing them alone won’t be of much help if at all we can’t address them. Excessive alcohol intake and cases of extra-marital affairs just but to mention a few have been cited as the chief causes of men failing in their responsibilities as husbands and fathers consequently creating an atmosphere of unrest in the homes. It would be prudent that such matters are laid to rest. Nobody would love to see his/her son/daughter falling victim to domestic violence in any way, neither does anyone admire to be raised in a family equated to a boxing academy only that it falls short of having a referee to oversee the boxing matches.
I applaud all efforts that are geared towards restoring the dignity of the family as an institution. A fact of life that I must acknowledge its existence is that people have diverse takes on life issues hence the quarrels: even twins do quarrel but that shouldn’t be taken as a ground to justify using violence to resolve our differences but instead should be a starting point to iron things out on a round table preferably while having a cup of tea. Respected men and women of society, let’s all stand up and say NO to domestic violence.
Anthony Simiyu is a first year pursuing a Bachelor of Law degree at the University of Nairobi’s School of Law. Follow him on Twitter.
Read Simiyu’s previous article: 2013: What If President Kibaki Endorses Raila Odinga For President