In Summary

  • Interestingly, the 2014 Kenya Domestic Health Survey indicated that that four in 10 women (42 per cent) justified being beaten by their husbands for reasons such as arguing with him, leaving children unattended, or burning food.
  • In an earlier, Dr Charles Muga, a behavioural scientist, had told DN2 that today’s adults need counselling on relating and parenting more than their children.
  • A study at the London School of Economics by Dr Berkay Orcan found that children do better when the biological father joins the family.

Mary Mugure still recalls the Sunday she took her son to be baptised at a Pentecostal church. “I was turned away,” she says.

Reason? “I had him out of wedlock. They told me he was conceived in sin,” she says.

Mugure is a victim of a deep-rooted but hidden societal attitude. When she posted her experience on Facebook recently, it generated a debate that touched on religion, society and gender.

While Mugure experienced  discrimination perpetuated by a religious institution, none of the religious leaders DN2 approached was ready to be quoted on the issue.

However, one responded,: My church doesn’t have a programme for single mothers...That’s something that we need to look into.”

Meanwhile, women consider their stigmatisation unfair.

 “I don’t understand why I am the bad guy in this situation. As women, why do we get blamed for a mistake we both made. What crime did we commit by convincing ourselves we were in love?” wonders  Ruth Mosheezy, a single mother.

Mosheezy had dated the father of her child for five years and thought the relationship was a solid enough for them to have a baby. But the man was not ready.

 “He gave me all sorts of excuses and threatened me,” she says. He asked why she had not taken precaution before disappearing.

Single mothers have different reasons for their status, with mental, physical and emotional abuse being common ones.

COUNSELLING ADULTS

Interestingly, the 2014 Kenya Domestic Health Survey indicated that that four in 10 women (42 per cent) justified being beaten by their husbands for reasons such as arguing with him, leaving children unattended, or burning food.

Dr Shilabukha Khamati, an anthropologist and research  fellow at the University of Nairobi’s Institute of Gender and African Studies, says economic empowerment gives women a choice to have children, but at the same time avoid the hard work that relationships demand.

“It is true that women are sexually liberated, and  because of economic empowerment that allows them access to healthcare marriage is not priority; they can also leave relationships that are not fulfilling,” he said.

In their defence, men say that women have turned reproduction into an economic venture to “trap” them. George Ouma*, a human resources manager in a bank, told DN2 that he found himself a father after knowing the woman for less than two months.

“Science has allowed us to separate sexual pleasure from reproduction, yet even after making it clear that you do not want to be a father, you still find yourself asked to take responsibility,” he argued.

 “Women want the right to decide whether or not to keep the baby, but the man has no choice as regards being a father,” he noted. This was the dominant line of thinking dominated both online and among those interviewed on the city streets.

In an earlier, Dr Charles Muga, a behavioural scientist, had told DN2 that today’s adults need counselling on relating and parenting more than their children.

“The world has changed, gender roles have been redefined, and it is overwhelming for young adults,” he had said.

 Eric Migide’s*, case lends credence to this claim. Migide , said he wanted to be there for his children, but their mother was too abusive. “I could not live in that house – the insults, continuous humiliation about what I was not doing right …man, all extended to the public domain, so I left to save my sanity,” he said, blaming his partner’s behaviour on  misguided feminism”.

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