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Kenyan men suffering from GBV urged to seek counselling

Homa Bay Health Director Kevin Osuri has urged men who are abused, physically and emotionally by their wives to seek psychosocial support.

Dr Osuri said many men suffer in silence by not reporting that they are survivors of Gender Based Violence (GBV).

He said men should take advantage of the many programmes being run by various originators in the fight against GBV.

One such programme is offered by the Gender Violence Recovery Centre (GVRC).

The organisation has set up four clinics in four hospitals in Homa Bay County.

The clinics, called ‘Hope Centres’, are located at the county teaching and referral hospital, Makongeni, Mbita and Rangwe sub-county hospitals.

The clinics were established after it was recognised that Homa Bay has a high incidence of GBV and that some survivors do not receive psychotherapy.

According to the 2022 Kenya Demographic Health Survey, 54 per cent of women aged 15-49 in the county had experienced physical violence.

Meanwhile, 23 per cent of women aged 15 to 49 have experienced sexual violence.

According to the report, the vice also affects married women, some of whom experience emotional violence perpetrated by their husbands.

Survivors of GBV are supposed to be treated at the clinic, which is located away from the general dispensary, to encourage survivors to go there.

However, it has been observed that the majority of people who go there are women and teenage girls.

Dr. Osuri said this is alarming because men are also victims of GBV and do not seek counselling but choose to suffer in silence.

“Men are also victims of GBV. They also face difficulties at home but do not report it,” he said.

According to the senior officer, men tend to believe that they are strong and should not seek help such as psychological support.

He said there is a notion that men, as the head of the family and superior beings, are naturally strong and should not let their emotions get the better of them.

He said this is likely to get some people into trouble.

“There is a belief that men should not cry or seek help when they are in trouble because someone will laugh at them. This will lead to more suffering,” he said.

According to the Director of the State Department of Gender, William Otago, men face a lot of stigma if they get into a fight with their wives.

He said men who get into physical fights with their spouses do not report the cases.

“When men are the victims, the matter is kept a family secret, unlike when women are attacked, the whole neighbourhood knows,” said Mr Otago.

He said this is based on traditional beliefs that men are strong and should not show their inner feelings, especially sadness.

“Society believes that men are born strong and should not cry even if they are in extreme pain. This has often led many men into deep physiological distress when they are unable to resolve issues that affect them,” said Mr Otago.

Rebecca Gitau, GVRC’s Medical and Psychosocial Support Manager, said the establishment of the centres came after GVRC realised there was a gap in addressing gender issues in Homa Bay.

GVRC has been working in Homa Bay for seven years.

They established a base in the county where a teenager who had been sexually assaulted in the county was referred to Nairobi for treatment and care.

The teenager was defined and her genitals were cut.

Ms Gitau said there was a need to deal with such cases locally instead of referring them to Nairobi.

By working with other like-minded organisations, GVRC has been able to help many women and teenage girls overcome life’s challenges.

“We have since trained health care providers and community health promoters on how to address gender-based violence. Our efforts are bearing fruit,” said Ms Gitau.

She called on other partners to support the newly opened Hope Centres.