Among the worst and the most persistent current violations of human rights is sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).
Though widely presumed that the vice is only perpetrated against young girls and women, statistics show that the figures may be higher in violations against women but a significant number of boys and men get violated in ways including intimate partner violence.
As opposed to young girls and women, who usually open up to friends, relatives and other avenues of help when so violated, most men and boys prefer to bottle in the pain—particularly due to stigma, discrimination and fear of becoming the butt of jokes and, in the long run, trauma, low self-esteem, depression, fear and the belief of being a lesser man.
The Kenya Demographic Health Survey shows only 18 per cent of male victims of SGBV reported it. Nine per cent of ever-married men suffer physical violence, as do four per cent of married men, and 11 per cent of ever-married men have suffered a form of violence from a partner.
The United Nations describes SGBV as “any act perpetrated against a person’s will and is based on gender norms and unequal power relationships. It includes physical, emotional or psychological and sexual violence and denial of resources or access to services.”
Society values masculinity. But reporting cases of this serious issue that affects everyone does not emasculate men. It will aid in mapping out hot spots, root causes and interventions; help to break the cycle of abuse; and boost programming for prevention.
It will redirect expenditure to prevention, easing the financial burden of the treatment of, sometimes, life-threatening injuries. Besides, seeking help or reporting abuse is a sign of strength and courage, not weakness.
Holding perpetrators accountable for their actions is vital for promoting gender equality and ending violence. Emphasising consent, respect and equality promote healthy relationships for all genders.