Violence against women is a major human rights, development and public health
problem world over. There are different forms of violence against women which
include spousal abuse or intimate partner violence also called domestic violence;
sexual violence and cultural forms of violence. This study has focused on spousal
abuse with reference to psychological violence.
It is estimated that globally, at least one in three women and girls has experienced
violence in her lifetime. These statistics vary from region to region and from
country to country with the highest levels of violence reported in Sub- Saharan
African and some Asian countries. Kenya Health and Demographic health survey
(2003) established that 44% of women aged 15-49 had been physically or sexually r
abused by their male partners.
Most studies focusing on violence touch on physical and sexual forms of violence.
There is very limited information regarding psychological violence. Information from
organizations working with abused women in Nairobi shows that the great-ermajority
of abused women come from slum areas. Indeed 80% of clients who seek
shelter services from Women's Rights Awareness Program come from 'Mathare Slums. Beyond the statistics available, there is no information explaining why this is
the case, at least from these organizations, much less information on psychological
This study has attempted to fill this knowledge gap. The objectives of the study are;
to identifying specific socio -economic factors and determine their relationship to
the occurrence of psychological violence in Mathare; determine the nature of
psychological violence experienced and the response to these forms of violence.
Only specific social and economic factors were included in the study some of which
include; alcohol intake, number of children and their paternity, occupation and
contribution to household expenditure among others. Specific behavior patterns
were considered to constitute psychological violence. Some of those considered
include; insults, infidelity, denial of economic support and denial of social interaction
Existing literature on domestic violence was examined with regard to definition and
scope of violence, society perspectives of domestic violence, psychological violence,
domestic violence in urban areas, factors influencing domestic violence and its
impacts. This research is grounded on the macro theory of conflict and two micro
theories namely feminist theory and Frustration- Aggression theory.
Primary data for the study was obtained using questionnaires, FGD guides and Key
Informant interviews. A total of 80 respondents were interviewed in Mathare. In
addition, two Focus Group Discussions were carried out and four key Informant
interviews were interviewed. The findings were analyzed using Statistical Package for
Social Sciences. Content analysis was done for the qualitative data.
The findings indicate that there is a relationship between alcohol intake and some of
the psychological forms of violence experienced. This seems to agree with the
findings of the KDHS (2003) which concluded that alcohol and drug abuse are the
factors most strongly associated with marital abuse. The relationship between
number of children, their paternity and the occurrence of psychological violence is
not apparent centrally to expectations. Denial of economic support is the most
frequent form of psychological violence experienced by the respondents. The
findings further indicate that a significant number of women (88.8%) keep quiet when
faced with violence.
Key recommendations arising from the study include the need to target young
people in awareness on domestic violence, the need to review micro- finance
policies in view of the fact women are denied social interaction with others. Further
research is recommended on a larger scale to specifically establish the extent to
which Kenyan women experience psychological violence and whether this could
account for the rising cases of stress related health problems among women.
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