Domestic violence has been on the rise in Kenya for almost a decade. Usually such type of violence is related to wife versus husband. For instance, when the couple resorts to some violence as solution to their differences and quarrels. As much as this issue has been treated as non issue in the modern world, it is still an issue especially for human rights lawyers and practicing activists. Wife bartering has been traced back to many traditions even Europe and Asiatic countries. To some extent such practices became part of the general culture while women see this as an affront to their human dignity especially in marital relationship.
However, by extension, domestic violence includes children and extended family members. There are many issues that men and women deal with customarily without involving legal action. One of them is when relationship turns bitter and the couple become emotional about their issues. As much as such treatment of partners was handled in a casual manner, council of elders would be involved to administer justice and settle the conflict before any action on divorce. Both parties would be convoked by elders to state their part of the story with evidence and proof. Whoever was found guilty would be sanctioned and reconciliation would follow to restore trust and peaceful co-existence.
In the modern world, this is not a common phenomenon, especially in Kenya. Couples lack any intervention from their community members since statutory marriages have stopped upholding marriage involving the community- or communal marriage. Marriages emerge from casual relationships based on the word “love”. Parents are only notified about the marriage process when such relationship has gone deep. There is nothing legally or culturally binding between the couple. In the African traditional marriage institution, dowry was an important institution. It has legal and ritual meaning for married couple. By all means the conjuge had to treat his or her partner with respect and dignity. In case of any violation of marital commitment, then any of the aggrieved party would seek justice.
As traditional social system has been weakened in Kenya, some people end up murdering the partner. Some cases show that a husband goes berserk killing the wife, children and often eliminates himself. As much as psychologists may allude to some mental and psychological disorder, we must admit that domestic violence emerges from the ignored African traditional legal systems and values that held the society together from time immemorial. Young couples today find it hard to deal with their frustrations. There no proper public institution provided for to handle the issues of couples anymore in Kenya. Churches try to provide marriage encounter talks to couples while Church leaders seek to fill the gap. But let me tell you, it is not the same thing we are dealing with. There is still serious problem on domestic violence in Kenya. Statutory law fails to provide any clue to the problem. Institutions and organizations also find themselves in trouble.