Battered men: Maendeleo ya Wanaume betraying its own cause

From what I can gather Maendeleo ya Wanaume lives and operates from the briefcase of one Nderitu Njoka — it’s chairman and purports to be an organisation fighting for the rights of battered men.

It is common knowledge that gender relations are in constant flux and conceptions of masculinity and femininity are being reshaped and redefined as our time passes on. Therefore one wonders why Maendeleo ya Wanaume (MYW) has chosen to exclusively focus on battered men when there are a host of other emerging issues that are equally deserving of attention including the question of the boy child and others issues affecting men as highlighted by myself here and also by nittzsah here.

Putting aside the issue of MYW selective agenda focus, the Chairman’s own recent remarks are most troubling as they reflect a total lack of appreciation of some of the underlying causes of gender-based violence in particular the recently reported cases of wives assaulting their husbands in the county of Nyeri:

“It is not an issue of poverty any more. It is about women supremacy as they want to dominate men,” (reported on Feb 12th 2012)

“Mr Njoka blames “female superiority complex” for the rising cases of husband battery, tracing its roots to the high handed female colonial chief, Wangu wa Makeri, who reigned in Murang’a with an iron fist, and was particularly hard on men.” (reported on Feb 9th 2012)

“Men should be respected as family heads, but in Central Kenya, they have been reduced to the role of fathering children before they are dumped..” – Nderitu Njoka. (reported on Feb 9th 2012)

It is clear that MYW Chairman believes there should be gender hierarchy (which must be recognised and respected) and this is precisely the kind of mentality that women in Nyeri may be reacting against.

The point of departure MUST be that men and women are equal partners in the home and therefore each of them must be respected as such. The MYW Chairman’s recent comments are misguided and dangerous in that they are capable of inciting men to blindly oppose and question the empowerment of women and resort to violence as a retaliatory weapon to “put women in their place”, so to speak.

Furthermore, the MYW Chairman is at fault for implying that there is a distinction between violence against men by women and violence against women by men. This insinuation is retrogressive, baseless and does not help in addressing the root socio-cultural, economic and political causes of gender-based violence in Kenya.

Regardless of whether the victims of gender-based violence are men or women, violence within the family unit remains an extremely private affair. As a result the majority of its victims continue suffering in the muffled recesses of this private domain. An association like MYW would be advised to work closely with other NGOs including Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organization (MYWO) and The Federation of Women Lawyers Kenya (FIDA Kenya) to properly address the issues relating to domestic violence, using the backing of the Constitution and existing legislation.

22 thoughts on “Battered men: Maendeleo ya Wanaume betraying its own cause

  1. I don’t support any form of domestic violence, no matter which gender is meting it out. Like you, I don’t agree with a lot of Nderitu Njoka’s statements. I actually doubt his professional ability to handle domestic violence. He may come in as a “hero” but what happens after that? The men he rescues require a lot of counselling. Their wives, even more. Just because battery has occurred doesn’t mean that that is the end of the marriage. Does Njoka have a team of counselors to help his victims, their children and their spouses? This is certainly a sensitive matter, not to be handled lightly.

    Like you’ve said, “gender relations are in constant flux and conceptions of masculinity and femininity are being reshaped and redefined as our time passes on.” Certainly, this isn’t the first time this is happening. Wangu wa Makeri was one of the Kikuyu women to try and change this status quo – but with good reason. Allow me to quote word for word, an article that appeared on Artlife Journal 3 and written by Robin Okuthe.

    “Wangu wa Makeri was viewed as a diabolical leader by traditionalists who underpin the heresy of giving power to women. As a leader, her talents were so outstanding that she was chosen by the Paramount Chief Karuru wa Gakure as a headman of Waithaga in Murang’a in 1901. Her appointment was unprecedented, in a society where all leaders were men. But her efforts to reverse the status quo and assert a more matriarchal society led to outrage.”

    “Early in her leadership, she dismissed most of the Council of Elders and appointed women in their place. She punished men who treated women harshly. Then she reversed the traditional order that she came to, whereby women worked and men didn’t, demanding that the men also work.” (<< what was so wrong with that?). She was slated by the men she displaced as promiscuous and authoritarian, who in turn hatched a plot to overthrow her."

    "The plot – to impregnate the women who surrounded her, knowing that in nine months, majority of her female supporters would be 'physically disabled.' The plan worked. Men assumed control, when their new female leaders were heavily pregnant, in a bloodless coup."

    Here we are again, in 2012. Nothing new. Yet, we have to ask ourselves, what do men do with the authority they claim? How did the men during Wangu’s time use the authority they had? How did Wangu use the same authority? How did society benefit in both instances?

  2. Many Kenyans attitude towards relationships is rather distressing. Many seemt ot hink a kind of master-slave/parent-child /dictator-little country role should be assumed in the home. Women in power are particularly distressing to both women and men. And we wonder why Kenyan progress is stalled in so many ways.
    Until we see each other as human beings worthy of an opinion and decent life we will never tackle the problems that afflict us be they gender violence, tribalism, or whatever other isms we inflict upon each other.

  3. Let me muddle these waters kidogo.

    We are looking at this issue from a very pedestrian perspective. True women are being beaten by men since time immemorial….even in some communities, taking a woman for a wife was a violent affair. But women beating men….now that is news!! Case of the dog being bitten by man and the stereotype for the Nyeri woman….and we know that someone’s spouse up on the Hill has helped further this stereotype.

    Nevertheless, this issue is complex. Very complex and it needs studies that will take ages. But my take is simple.

    The Central Province society presents what can be termed as the closest we can get in an Ideal-Society. An ideal society has members who represent it from the super-wealthiest to the most poverty-stricken within it and everything in-between. From the President to the office messenger/guard, from Old money to noveau-riche, from robber barons to highest population in prisons, from Mandera to diasporans……the Central province descendants scale the rungs.
    I’m using that societal divide to bring on the issue that, the Central Province society much as it is maligned….has somethings going for it…..it is the most inclusive and also I believe most representative of what happens across the entire country.

    On to this ‘men-battery’ issue, we must accept that men from Central have been the most pragmatic when it comes to empowering women. Girls in central have gone to school since the grandmothers…something that other societies are just taking it up within the past 2 decades. So I don’t believe that woman in Central are just starting to fight for their space now….that is a bit out of place when you look at the achievements of the Central Kenya woman.

    This woman has supported Mau Mau during the fight for independence. While still on that, it is also worthy of note that this Central woman has has embraced business, top flight careers and academia whole heartedly….something that couldn’t happen without the support of the father, the brother, the uncle and the husband. It is also important to note that Kenya’s most successful birth control programme was in Central province….[confirm with Min of Health]. So, we are talking about a woman who has scaled the heights and sunk to the depths……..a woman who has achieved a lot…………..supported by her man.

    Now the man is being battered. The man who has supported this woman…..!! Now here is the surprise, the same man has gone out on a limb and reported the issue to the police, to the media.

    People are used to women being battered almost to death….now the man is speaking of being battered to. Say what you can but this to me is development. Again, we find a society, Central Province society on the throes of redefining what Domestic Violence encompasses. Ask anyone what domestic violence is and the answer will be, “..a man beating a woman..”. Today, a whole new meaning including battered man gets included in the meaning.

    Now that is what I call revolutionary! Again, the women are in the forefront of changing what Domestic Violence is, and men, though the victims, are doing a good job of it. Show me any man from any other community in Kenya that will admit to being battered and I will expose you to be liar!!

    Recall, it is only the Central woman who has publicly complained about the ills of illicit brews that include a ‘dead-sex life’ in their bed….all other women are silent about this issue….though we all know illicit brews are available the length and breadth of Kenya.

    And how the police handle this issues in Central will also determine how the country, espcially the Judiciary deals with Domestic Violence in all it’s forms. There is a reason to be happy that these things are happening in our society at this particulr time.

    • oops! then I must be a liar, coz in mid-October 2011 George Angwenyi from Western Kenya reported enduring a decade of assault by his wife and wants out! There’s nothing developmental about abuse/assault/violence, in any and all of its forms, towards any gender, race, creed, class, etc… violence against men or against women in any cultural setting is not an indicator of any form of development, its an indicator of some form of decay..or of resistance to change, or of support for the “rotten” status quo.

      Thats just my 2 cents 🙂

  4. I do not support violence of any kind.

    Having to result to violence when you are not in good terms with your significant other, speaks volumes about your relationship. It’s functionality or otherwise. I think this is the problem that needs to be addressed.
    I don’t see a difference between people who batter their spouses and those who rant all morning on Classic and similar forums. They all need to exhale. So, we need to recognise there is a problem and solve it because ultimately, the effects of these failed relationships/marriages, will be felt/seen in subsequent generations.

  5. Over time the gradual decay of morals in cultural practices mixed with the partial adoption of foreign cultures and the pre-dominant attitude of self sufficiency and selfishness has dulled our senses and conscience to the extent of being heartless. Take for instance,frankly speaking how often do you motorists curse because someone just missed you by inches as they aggressively deny you right of way? Which offices in parastatal premises will you be served satisfactorily without feeling slinging your shoe in place of reasoning it out is necessary? What happened to people going out of their way to protect the under-privelleged & powerless? (victims of rape,psychological & sexual harassment in both men & women at work places,giving the elderly a seat in the bus) People unfortunately and sad to say are gradually turning into creatures no different from the ones fenced in game reserves. There was a time when people took their outward presentation and courtesy to meant alot to their colleagues / acquaintances / buisness counterparts now, it’s now all about capitalizing on leverage and how to take down your competition, literally a man eat man world,so we have ourselves to blame

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  8. That NGO is a briefcase NGO that specializes in peddling fake statistics. He says 1.5 million Kenyan men are going through emotional and physical abuse. Did you know that Njoka’s definition of abuse includes having to perform domestic chores and not getting conjugal rights.

    This is totally SILLY. Everyone works long hours – many women work longer hours than men. Btw many husbands don’t work at all but they still consider helping to take care of their own children abuse???????????

    Finally, no one is always in the mood for sex and that includes men. Any married person (male or female) can tell you that for free.

    • Please do share your experiences on being battered we can all commiserate with you because many of us dont say we are battered until we end up in hospital crushed to bits

      • Hi Ken Im a battered man though not physically but spiritually, mentally, psychologically and abit of the physical.
        My wife went with men to a magnitude that you cannot comprehend. To cap it all she kissed another man in my view. If I had a gun the two would be dead. All this happened when I was in the UK for further studies and when I came back it was too difficult for her to stop her extramarital affairs. The kissing took place on 1 Dec 2007. On 12 Dec 2007 I had a new job in Nairobi and was to travel on 13 Dec 2007 to see them in my rural area.
        That day of 12 Dec 2007 is when she hired a truck and carried everything from my house including my personal effects as shoes and clothes and sold them. It was so painful that she took the children and dumped them in Nairobi and she flew to the UK.
        By the time I traced my children they were emaciated and painful to look at. I took them with a lot of tears and pain. Now I have my two boys whom Im taking care of.
        My objective is to divorce this woman and enjoin the man who ruined my marriage for total compensation. This is a case not heard before as in divorce cases the woman get divorced but the man whom she was sleeping with go scot free and chest high.
        Tell me how can I go about this problem. My wife came on 10 April 2012 and is somewhere in Nairobi. I have not seen her as I have no business with her.
        Reason I wand to enjoin her lover is because I suffered a great loss of a broken family and much more due to him having taken my wife. If a man steals your blanket you take him to court. If he steals your cow you take him to court; if he teals your donkey you take him to court. Then if he steals your wife he should go to court where other thieves are taken.
        I would like the organization to support me in all ways possible and if well publisised it will make other men who steal peoples wives fear. I would like this case to hit the international headlines for men to see they have a right to have their wives without the thieves who go with loughter while they break another family and they raise their chests high.
        Please advice.

  9. To me, we men are to blame.we only think about women wen we want to do something of help.If you got a job opportunity you comment your mistress,wen a man argues with a woman in a vehicle the other men scold him never even considering who is wrong,even now girl schools are double the boy schools and the infrastructure in girl school is better and who are the founders?high ranking men of course.soon there will be women representatives in the parliament-will the other parliamentarians really be representing men?-the majority who made all this possible are men finally,God gave men a mind to be leaders of their families and more so stronger muscles than women for working and protecting the family but many men have neglected this fact.so men lets blame us not women and if we make things straight then we can blame women.Don’t only be good to you and a woman but try to be good to your fellow man or boy-”TUCHANUKE WANAUME”

  10. I was disturbed last sunday the 28 April 2013 when Mr Njoka presented a powersaw to the battered victim. It was aired by Citizen TV 1PM news. Was it the best present for that victim? He demostrated how he will be felling innocent live trees contrary to Kenya Constitution and Vision 2030. Or was it a sign of self defence tool.

  11. my question is why ladies a take advantage from men coz a lady have pregnant the court of Kenya consider lady and my be that lady she use that like weapon to win that man plz Kenya open your eye for this ladies in kenya today

  12. ACCORDING TO MY RESEARCH in most selfhelp group u find that men are very active and always women are very relactant and yet they are then cosidered mostly by the government than men eg.uwezo fund

  13. We keep on hearing and reading about how men mistreat and enslave their wives and live-in partners. However, very little has been said the reversal of these roles which, is prevalent in our present society. Your organisation has been doing a great job of drawing attention to the tribulations of men at the hands of women, and I commend you for it. I have a very specific case that is clearly of a man in dire need of rescue.

    A few years ago, a man I know left a good job and well-paying professional role that came with substantial status in the community. A jovial, outgoing bloke, he was at the crest of professional career. He chose to retire early and concentrate on his family and pursue rewarding and motivating business interests away from his erstwhile employer. But that was not to be. He retired to hell on earth.

    His wife, a housewife, suddenly changed and became a present-day “Wangu wa Makeri”. She immediately cut him off from all his friends, colleagues and family, including his parents and siblings. He cannot go to the sports or social clubs of which he is a member. Despite his health condition which calls for daily aerobic exercise, she does not want him to exercise, even in their home gym. No one (parents and siblings included) can talk to him, or meet him, without her express approval, and in her presence. She does not allow him to go away from home, unless she is there to chaperone him. He cannot use a computer without supervision from her. He has to explain every in-coming or out-going telephone call. He is not allowed to look at or talk to any other woman, and woe betide him should a woman look at him, because he would have to explain why she did so! She controls their bank accounts and determines how much pocket money he gets, and which he has to account for – pretty much like a kindergarten school kid.

    Instead of pursuing a rewarding career and growing himself and his family, he finds himself reduced to being his wife’s poodle, serving as her driver, bodyguard, bag carrier and trolley-pusher at the supermarket, which they visit three times a week. A hen-pecked and emasculated house husband, he spends most of the day vegetating and isolated, watching television or reading newspapers if he is not running clerical chores for his wife or eating and getting fat. After a few years, this is driving him nuts. Even with all this, the wife somehow believes that there are women out there trying to snatch her man from her.
    In the meantime, with no income to meet its upkeep, the family finds itself in dire straits, having used up all savings and are now liquidating investments to meet upkeep expenses. Feeling impotent to do anything to reverse the decline, the man has slipped into severe depression. His wife, in the meantime, is too obsessed with other matters to grasp the precariousness of the situation.

    I believe that this individual is not alone but that there are many emasculated men out there, too embarrassed by the whole matter to speak out, or do anything to redeem themselves. Like the maltreatment of women in homes, maltreatment of men is equally deplorable. A home is supposed to thrive on mutual respect, honesty and love. It is supposed to be a sanctuary from the turbulence in the world around us, not a battlefield. The marriage relationship is not supposed to be a conformist one, but one which embraces diverse interest and allows each individual to blossom to their full potential and feel fulfilled and, together, man and wife make a formidable team. Regrettably, judging from what I have heard in conversations and the situation I have outlined above, most Kenyan homes are hell on earth.

    Your organisation should continue sensitising the community to these ills, and to try and draw men on the receiving end of torture to come forward and share their stories. Not only will they find that therapeutic in itself, but it will also encourage others to come out of the shell and stand up for their rights.

    Thanks

  14. The men in kenya are failing big time. When women are looking after one another men are busy tearing one another. If u want to know touch a woman and you will see the uproar of other women, touch a man and other fellow men will help you beat him up. Men style up and fight also for your own stop bashing maendeleo ya wanaume you neva know when you might need them.

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