Number of men reporting rape by women in Kenya raises questions

By Gatonye Gathura

The number of men reporting rape by women at Kenyatta National Hospital has medical experts raising questions.

Among 385 rape victims treated at the hospital during a three year period, 35 were men with 15 claiming being assaulted by women.

But researchers led by Dr Eric Munene Muriuki of the University of Nairobi with colleagues from, Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), the University of Washington, US, and University of Manitoba, Canada, think the men are not being truthful.

“Men claiming assault by women raised the question if these were genuine sexual assault cases or men afraid to seek medical help after consensual sex,” says the study first presented at an Aids conference in Australia.

A version of the study published this month (June 1st) in the journal AIDS Patient Care and STDs shows the researchers assessing the uptake of medication by rape victim to protect against HIV infections at KHN.

It is recommended that rape victims be put on HIV prevention treatment called Post-Exposure Prophylaxis or PEP within 72 hours of the incident.

In this case the researchers seem to suggest the men who claimed being raped by women may actually have been involved in some consensual but risky sex for which they sought PEP under cover of rape.

The medical researchers were also surprised at what they report as high rates of male to male cases of rape at the Gender-Based Violence Recovery Center of KNH.

“I understand why this may surprise the researchers but ideally it shouldn’t,” says Dr Julius Gathogo, a senior lecturer in religious studies at Kenyatta University.

Dr Gathogo says, he is hardly surprised by the cases of men running to KNH allegedly on being raped by women.

He says with improved gender balance it means men relinquishing some of the exclusive power they have had over women including violence.

“Hence we expect to hear all forms of violence by women against men, including ironically rape,” says Dr Gathogo.

In 2015 Dr Gathogo published a study, in the journal Theological Studies, on the views of Kenyans on men battering by women.

The study covering 26 of the 47 counties, the author says had then been prompted by a spike in battering of men by women in central Kenya around 2014.

Like the researchers in the KNH study, Gathogo says Kenyans had also expressed surprise at the battering of men as reported then in the media.

“My take is, gender violence is no longer restricted to women by men, but also to men by women as well.”

Rape, he explained is part of the said violence. “So if men can rape women, women likewise can do so and eventually hurt men’s genitals,” Dr Gathogo told the Standard.

In his study it comes out clearly that sex was a major cause of the evolving face of female to male battering in Kenya.

Sex related causes of men battering, the study indicated to be denial of conjugal rights by drunkard or busy spouses.

The other cause of male battering, study participants had said was marriage to older women who underrate younger spouses.

Again, the study says when a sexually promiscuous man infects a faithful woman with sexually transmitted diseases, a woman may get out of her senses and wildly attack an unsuspecting spouse – and thereby injure him fatally.

“Violence against men that includes verbal, psychological, pouring hot water, penile amputation will definitely increase,” says Dr Gathogo.

Back to Kenyatta gender violence unit study, like others similar investigations it shows most of the rapists, 72 per cent were known to their victims.

“There was family relationship in 51 sexual assault cases, 40 were immediate family members while 11 were distant relatives,” says the study.

Friends were implicated in 59 cases and 163 others who were: 12 per cent classmate, 10 per cent workmate, 1 per cent employees, 7 per cent employers, 6 per cent neighbor, 12 per cent taxi driver, 1 per cent police, 1 per cent house helps.

While most of the rape survivors 207 in the study had been put on PEP, only 70 of these completed the recommended 28 days of medication. “Only 21 of those on pep returned for repeat HIV test at 3 months,” says the study.

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