It is rue that the violence against women is an international epidemic. It is illegal in The US as well as Kenya but societies tend to tolerate and sanction it. The government does little to stop the violence against women and girls and it is always the women organization such as FIDA (Federation of Women lawyers) or the Maendeleo ya Wanawake organizations that come to protect women against such violence. Little has been done on municipality level to cub the violence against women. In this paper I will discuss domestic and gender based violence in relation to what I experienced through watching of the Kenyan post-election violence where the rights of many women were violated. This paper is a reflection on gender based violence against women that I experienced on a visit to the country during the post-election violence of 2007/2009 (AWC, 34).The violence against women is often termed as domestic violence. This is because most of the violence occurs at homes and is either among people in intimate relationships such as husband and wife. I find thi8s term true because in my society most of wife battery occurs between husbands and wives where the husband beats the wife because of simple mistakes that can be resolved without the violence. Most of the violence occurs at night where the husband comes drunk and beats the wife if the food is not warmed or if the wife did not open the door for him late at night.The domestic violence is not only limited to married couples only; People in relationships can also be involved in domestic violence. This is mostly if the man is jealous or feels intimidated by a woman and he wants to control the woman. This can result in physical harm to the woman (AWC, 43).Many countries define domestic violence differently. The way the United States defines violence is not the same way Kenyans define domestic violence. For example, Amnesty international published a report that showed violence against women especially rape is largely suffered in silence. The Kenyan authorities have failed to control the violence against women and it usually ends up with the victim big blamed while the perpetrators are protected. In the Post Election violence of 2007/2008, many women and girls were raped during that period and they are yet to receive justice until now. The government is too slow on such cases and the victims may end up not receiving any justice at all. While the United States refers domestic violence against women a public affair where the woman can always sue her husband, it is different in Kenya. Some courts refer the violence as a private affair which should be solved between the two parties. The cases end up being resolved by family members or clan elders and the woman ends up being blamed for causing the violence. Thus different countries view domestic violence differently (WHO, 1).According to the United Nations General Assembly, violence against women is defined as any act of gender-related violence that is leads to or can lead to sexual, mental or physical injuries. The threats of such acts, arbitrary denial of liberty occurs either in public or private life. These actions can be psychological, physical or sexual violence in the family and community as a large. This type of violence includes rape, female genital mutilation, and dowry related violence, sexual abuse of children, sexual harassment, intimidation at work where male bosses tend to approach female employees, women trafficking, forced prostitution. These forms of violence have some emotional, sexual, mental, psychological abuse (Bloom, 18).
This definition by the United Nations General Assembly is a good definition of violence against women. For example a thirteen year old disabled girl was recently sexually abused by a thirty year old man on her way to school. The girl's parents went to file a report at the chief's office in the village but after that, the perpetrator was never arrested. This is violence against women because the girl was left with a physical injury as well as a psychological injury. The girl got pregnant and there was never any justice done until the story was leaked to the media and the government decided to act. According to WHO (1), most feminists find this shocking because the government that is supposed to protect minors against such violence is the same government that is protecting the abusers. If the chief would have arrested the perpetrator on time, the girl would have felt safer and the community would have been safer as well because such a man will continue harming any female child. There was another case where a neighbor defiled a three year old child who had been left under care of the man by the mother. The child was threatened by the molester not to say a word or she would never see her mother again. It was not until the mother noticed her daughter walking in a funny way that she acted. The child's internal organs had already been damaged.Wife battery is another form of violence against women that is raising concern among the feminists. I have seen several women being battered by their husband and feel ashamed to report it to the police. The husband beats the wife either by slapping, throwing fists, choking or using any objects to inflict pain. Such women have physical injuries on their faces and body and they do not even have the courage to say that they were beaten by the police. They are often afraid of leaving the husband due to the fear of becoming poor, especially if the husband is the sole bread winner and also because they feel that the children will suffer. Such women feel that they should be submissive to their husbands and cultural sanctions sometimes advocate for the domestic violence. This often leads to psychological harm and can even lead to stress. In Kenya, Several communities still practice Female genital mutilation despite it being an outlaw. The types of female circumcision are clitoridectomy and infibulations. The Somali women practice infibulations. The communities that practice such FGM in Kenya are the Samburu, Meru, Masaai and Somali. Maendeleo ya Wanawake Organization have gone to these communities to educate them on dangers of such practices on several occasions. They have even put up schools in these communities to encourage girl-child education to stop early marriages. Despite continuous education these communities feel that if the practice is eradicated, the girl child will become promiscuous and she will not be pure during her wedding night and she will have low chances of getting married (AWC, 46). These communities feel that it is a cultural rite for the girl as she passing from childhood to woman hood. They also see girl child education as a waste of resources because the child is supposed to get married and bring good dowry to the parents. If the girl becomes educated, she will not get married and thus will become a shame to the family. Women organizations and other human rights activist are raising concerns on how to curb these practices and how to make sure that once the community receives such an education, how they are going to implement these laws. It is often found out that the people encouraging this practice are close family members such as grandmothers and the aunts. If a girl is discovered not to be circumcised, she is forcefully circumcised. Risks associated with FGM are urinary tract infections, severe haemorrhage during birth and there is the risk of contracting HIV. All these are physical harms inflicted to the woman and forced circumscion is violence against women (WHO, 2).
Bloom (6) asserts that feminists are also concerned by the increase in sexual harassment and intimidation of women at work places and education institutions. For example, there is a case of lecturers harassing female students so that they can give them better grades if they want to graduate at the top of their class or with better grades. This often leaves one with trauma because it is not morally right and one is often left. Harassment at work place is common. This is especially where the male bosses blackmail the female employees by making sexual advances. I once read an article of a certain woman who sued her former boss for wrongful termination because she refused advances from her boss and he fired her for no reasons. The woman wanted a promotion because she felt that she was worth getting that promotion but after the boss suggested the offer, she refused. This led to a long lawsuit. This had a psychological impact on the lady and she had to undergo counseling.Violence against women causes health problems among the victims. Take the case of FGM and the risks associated with it. I have given the risks associated with it in paragraph nine. Risks like haemorrhage are health problems because blood loss can lead to death. The risk of contracting HIV is high as the same knife is passed from one girl to another. It is also a violation of human rights. Every woman is entitled to freedom from physical, mental and sexual injury. A husband who batters his wife is denying the woman her human rights. A man who sexually assaults a minor is depriving the minor her rights to enjoy her childhood peacefully. This violence causes emotional and mental traumas in women and girls.The research conducted by the World Health Organization is a true indication of the large numbers of women who have experienced physical abuse by their intimate partners. This report shows that in every country where studies have been conducted, reports show between ten percent to fifty percent results of such cases. There have been cases where women are subjected to forced sex by their partners. There was a certain discussion by some women a time back and I could not help to eaves drop (Bloom, 34). One of the women was complaining how her husband used to sexually abuse her and she could do nothing about it. Her friends were telling her that she was a married woman and the husband had a right since the dowry had already been given out. She was told that she had to give in to the husband's demands. The main problem was that these women were not taking this matter seriously and they were not aware that it is a form of sexual violence."Gender-based violence" is the term referred to violence against women. Most researchers and scholars who study this from of violence describe it as gender-based violence. This is because it is either a male or female who is likely to experience domestic violence. Mostly is the female who experience this kind of violence. The many violence stories that I have read in the newspapers, seen on televisions or in the websites are made up of women being the main victims of domestic and sexual violence (Bloom, 56). I feel that violence against women is discrimination and oppression of women. Several women who have been victims of domestic violence are submissive wives who cannot leave their partners no matter what. The husband feels that he 'owns' the woman. African men feel that they are the heads of the families and it is their rights to dominate over the women. They control them especially if the wife is dependent on the husband. The feminist are concerned with this issue because if a feminist encourages a victim of domestic violence to leave the marriage, the former may not have resource s to help the victim stand on their own.I agree with the World Health Organizations' research that the perpetrators of women violence are mostly men. The women and girls are at a high risk of domestic and sexual violence from the men they know. Take an example of the three year old girl who was sexually abused by the neighbor. The neighbor was known by the child as well as the child and she used to trust him. The women who experience domestic violence know their partners well and they are no strangers to them. Women who are harassed at work places are not strangers with their bosses. They are colleagues and they work hand in hand with each other. These people are trusted by the victims and instead of protecting them from social injustices and violence; they end up committing these offences. Thus many feminists wonder how women and girls are supposed to be protected from violence if the people that they trust are not protecting them.AWC (50) observes that women and girls affected by domestic and sexual violence are often blamed by the social institutions. A girl who was raped recently got a rude shock when she went to report the matter to the police and the officer at the station told her that she had worn tight jeans and that is why she was raped. This is called victim blaming where the society tends to blame the victim instead of prosecuting the offender. I have seen cases where neighbors tend to listen to women being beaten by their husbands. The woman may be screaming for help but no one is going to her rescue because they feel that both parties should resolve their own problems.Thus feminist are experiencing a lot of difficulties while trying to stop the violence against women. This is due to societal views and also authorities fail to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators. No matter how hard women right's groups are trying to advocate for women right, the shortcoming s are very many. This is seen mostly in the African nations. The human right's activists are now considering involving men so as to fight the violence against women. For example there is an organization called "Men Stopping Rape" that has taken the initiative to show other men how violence against women can be stopped (Bloom, 78).The government is also becoming more and more involved in fight against violence. For example the Kenyan government has a special ministry known as gender and special programs to fight this crime. The United States government also passed the Violence against Women Act to provide with legal protection from abuse. It is up to society to put a stop to violence against women and girls.