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.