Violence Against Boys and Young Men in Kenya: A Cause for alarm
Gender-based violence, most commonly referred to as violence against women, has traditionally been viewed as a women’s issue, particularly in Kenya. Despite this, the scourge of gender-based violence has recently become less gender-specific, with reports of increased cases of violence against the male population, particularly among the boy-child. In Kenya, violence against boys and young men is on the rise, and this is increasingly becoming a serious social problem that needs to be addressed.
Factors Contributing to the Problem of Gender-based Violence Against Boys and Young Men
The issue of gender-based violence against boys and young men in Kenya is a complex one, with a range of different factors contributing to the problem. These include:
- Social: Strong and deeply ingrained social norms in Kenya perpetuate the view that boys and young men should be “tough” and should not complain if they are subjected to violence and abuse. This “culture of silence” prevents boys and young men from coming forward to report cases of abuse.
- Educational: Poorly enforced laws and a lack of awareness of the legal system, coupled with inadequate resources in the education sector, further impede the efforts of the government in tackling the issue of gender-based violence against boys and young men.
- Economic: Poor socioeconomic conditions, poverty, and lack of access to resources and services makes it difficult for boys and young men to report and seek legal assistance in response to gender-based violence.
Possible Solutions for Combatting Gender-based Violence against Boys and Young Men in Kenya
What is particularly concerning about the rise in gender-based violence against boys and young men in Kenya is that, in many instances, these cases go unreported and unaddressed, leaving perpetrators to act with impunity. To counter this disheartening trend, several measures should be taken by relevant government and non-governmental organizations to ensure a safe environment for all boys and young men. These include, but are not limited to:
- Increasing funding of projects designed to protect the boy-child;
- Providing appropriate training in gender-based violence awareness and psychological support to those affected;
- Ensuring the equitable enforcement of laws against gender-based violence perpetrators.
Efforts should also be taken to promote positive gender values and relationships that aim to empower boys and young men, while also seeking to foster a culture that condemns violence against males. Additionally, efforts must be put in place to empower boys and young men, as well as teach them about their rights and provide them with access to resources and support needed for their personal and professional development.
Gender-based violence in Kenya, and the increased targeting of the boy-child, needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. Only by working together, and promoting initiatives that are designed to protect the boy-child from violence and abuse, can we hope to restore hope and safety to boys and young men in Kenya.