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CS Aisha Jumwa: Men, don’t suffer in silence, report female abusers to me

In a society where men are often expected to be strong and invulnerable, gender-based violence (GBV) against them is often overlooked.

Cabinet Secretary Aisha Katana Jumwa is calling on men who are victims of GBV to seek help instead of suffering in silence.

Many men fear being judged or ridiculed for coming forward and admitting to being physically abused by a woman.

“So many men are suffering in silence, and I think this is because of nature. A man doesn’t want to come out and say he has been beaten by a woman for fear of being judged or ridiculed by society from family, friends and even security authorities whenever they report these matters. Men have been made to believe they are strong hence not vulnerable. Their silence is hurting them,” Jumwa says.

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This is where Jumwa steps in. She offers her office as a safe haven where men can come and get help without fear of being stigmatized.

“Men need to break the silence,” Jumwa says. “If you have been roughed up by a woman, reach out and we will help. If you can’t open up publicly, come to my office. The door will always be open, or better yet, you can call 1195. It’s a direct line. Call it anytime, even on the weekends, share your predicaments, and we will act accordingly.”

According to a 2017 study by the University of Nairobi, 329 men out of 1,000 are victims of intimate partner violence every year.

Unfortunately, GBV against men is often underreported due to societal norms and prejudices.

Doris Kathia, a communication consultant and sexual reproductive health and rights expert working with NAYA Kenya, attributes this to the criminalization of same-sex acts, homophobic backlash, and social prejudice.

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Additionally, females are often not recognized as intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetrators, leading to shame and stigma.

“Reasons for underreporting of GBV against men include reframing sexual abuse as torture, criminalization due to same-sex acts being illegal, homophobic backlash, social prejudice, non-recognition of females as perpetrators of intimate-partner violence (IPV), shame and stigma.” Kathia says.

She also argues that the country lacks centres to cater for men who are victims of GBV.

“Kenya has no shelters for abused men and very few for women to accommodate men or, if they do, only a very small percentage is catered for.”

Jumwa’s initiative to open up her office and offer support to male victims of GBV is a step in the right direction to address this issue.

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