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Research Report

Battering, Rape, and Lethal Violence: A Baseline of Information on Physical Threats against Women in Nairobi

Claire Mc Evoy
Copyright Date: Dec. 1, 2012
Published by: Small Arms Survey
Pages: 80

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. 1-3)
  2. (pp. 4-4)
  3. (pp. 7-7)
  4. (pp. 8-8)
  5. (pp. 9-9)
  6. (pp. 10-16)

    The starting point for this research is the knowledge that gender-based physical and sexual violence targeting women is commonplace in Kenya—and that few cases are reported to the police.¹ Almost half (45 per cent) of Kenyan women aged 15–49 have experienced physical or sexual violence, including ’forced sexual initiation’, according to the 2008–09 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), which surveyed 6,318 female respondents (KNBS and ICF Macro, 2010, p. 251). Reports of gender-based physical violence targeting women and girls ’abound’ in the major national daily newspapers, on television, and on the radio (NCGD, 2010b, p.2).


  7. (pp. 17-47)

    Nairobi province—an area covering 695 km², almost all of which is urbanized— is home to Kenya’s capital and 3.14 million people (KNBS, n.d.).28 East Africa’s cultural, diplomatic, political, and economic hub, it is a United Nations headquarters with an increasing number of wealthy foreign as well as middle-class Kenyan inhabitants. It is also a city of visible and growing economic inequalities. As the number of luxury shopping malls, gated communities, expensive hotels, new roads and highways, and modern apartments grows, the informal settlements are largely hidden behind a facade of ’progress’ and expected five per cent economic growth in...

  8. (pp. 48-56)

    Women who are trapped in violent relationships in Nairobi—and Kenya more generally—tend to resist change for a variety of reasons, including economic dependency, especially with respect to housing; social dependency; pressure from families and communities; and the legitimization and acceptance of at least some violent behaviour—particularly that seen as ’corrective’ and targeting both women and children—within communities. This pressure extends to women who seek reconciliation after violent incidents, including through informal justice mechanisms. Taking this into account, perhaps, many police fail to take GBPV cases seriously; their actions are based on ’socially constructed beliefs’ instead of...

  9. (pp. 57-59)

    This report details the symptoms of a profound societal crisis in Nairobi, and in Kenya more generally. Behind the discourse about women becoming ’too empowered’ and the media hype about men being battered by violent wives is the underreported brutality that many women—from all socio-economic groups—experience.

    Anecdotal evidence suggests that extreme and even fatal acts of violence targeting poor women in particular are common enough to be unremarkable. Many of these cases are so unremarkable that they are neither officially recorded, nor investigated—a non-issue for the media,201 the police, the political class, and, by extension, the kenyan...

  10. (pp. 60-70)
  11. (pp. 71-76)
  12. (pp. 77-80)