Women: Please be cautious–By Wanjala Wafula

13 Jul


This is a caution to all women of the world. I sent this caution exactly one week after I attended the funeral of Sarah Mwikali, wife to my childhood friend Elikana Musyoka. As you read this piece, my friend is in Police custody accused of having maimed and killed his wife of fifteen years. There marriage was a theater of sorts and our efforts to return them to the rails did not bare fruit. Theirs had been tumultuous union punctuated with screams, fights, scars and calls to the police.

Elikana had threatened to kill himself and on many occasions I intervened. His wife had sort protection from both the police and other social instruments to no avail. Sarah’s constant excuse to remain in the abusive marriage was her children. I have repeatedly affirmed that battered women who have been threatened or assaulted even once are 20 times as likely as other battered women to be murdered. Those who have been choked are 10 times more likely to be killed. Yet, my appeals have not been respected.

Experts affirm that substance abuse is one of the leading causes of partner battering and even death. Recent statistics show that the vice is on the increase in Kenya and that the rising cases of spouse battering and death can be attributed to the same. Others link spouse battering and death to unemployment, hence the depression. Dr. Bwonya attributes the sky rocketing cases of wife battering and death to abuse during pregnancy, any kind of estrangement, and the presence of a stepchild. “These are trigger factors to the current madness manifesting itself in all forms of abuse meted at women and girls”, he tells me.

Becky Namarome who a leading gender based violence expert affirms that “It is rare for wife battering and death to happen with no previous record of domestic violence,”. The warning signs are there and they include an abrupt obsession by a partner to keep weapons at home. She insists that coercive control is almost exclusively the domain of men. It is long-term and tyrannical abuse that includes, often in addition to physical violence, attacks on a woman’s self-worth, degrading remarks and obsessive monitoring of her whereabouts and her contact with other people.

I have over the years learned that many men kill in a state of what I call “mortified rage,” disgrace that has gone into overdrive for any number of reasons: Elikana killed his wife because she had finally decided to move out of the house. He feared loosing control of her and had been drinking excessively. I my view, many deaths occur in marriage because of a socialization process that presets the expectations and definitions’ of manifold. It’s all about manhood and failing to live up to prescriptions of modern-day masculinity

Experts insist that there is always an escalation of abuse just before a battered woman is killed. If nobody heeds my caution than I fear that there will be more broken bones, more cracked teeth. More calls to 999. There will be more burials and many children will be orphaned or abandoned. I submit here that marriage related death can be seen coming. You can log it. You can count it and you can avoid it all the same.

Don’t allow yourself to be another statistic. Don’t allow your partner to start accumulating weaponry in your house. Watch out when your partner starts reading your text messages and dropping by your office unexpectedly to make sure you are at work. Watch out when your partner controls everything including your finances. Be wary when your partner calls you names or yells at you. Run off if I may suggest when your partner pushes, squeezes, knocks, punches, kicks or otherwise harms you. Don’t wait for another second if your partner destroys your belongings and threatens to hurt you, the children, or pets. Help your friend if she grows increasingly fearful, and tells friends or family that things are getting worse.

I depart on the affirmation that signs of a disaster waiting in a marriage may not be outward but if one senses things are getting worse then they really are. We have to be sensitive to what the victim tells us less we risk loosing another life

The writer is a Founder / Director of The Coexist Initiative, a not for profit synergy of men and boys community-based organizations committed to eliminating all forms of Gender based violence in Kenya. Visit www.coexistkenya.com or email Wafula@coexistkenya.com- facebook-wanjala Wafula- skype:coexist.initiative. Tel: +254712653322



2 Responses to “Women: Please be cautious–By Wanjala Wafula”

  1. annah July 13, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    Thanks for that advice! all time women never read th signs.u at told I wl kill u and u still stay.when such hard words ar used thk twice. women stop using ua kids for ua excuse u can make it on ua own when u ar at peace with ua kids,

    • wanjalawafula July 13, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

      Thank you so much for the comment.Marriage is not a death sentence so I say

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