Women in Kenya have had a notoriously difficult time making any progress in the laws that handle domestic violence claims. This is largely a cultural phenomenon where it has, in the past, been considered socially acceptable to “handle” your wife. Under these circumstances Kenyan women have found it difficult to get the fair treatment they deserve under the law. But there is hope.
The Protection Against Domestic Violence Bill was introduced in 2013, and was brought to the table by Parliament in 2014. The bill finally commenced in June of 2015 and marks a huge progressive stride for women and children in Kenya. The journey toward achieving this goal was a long one, as it was largely perceived as a challenge to patriarchal power in Kenyan society.
The bill addresses brutality within families, forced wife inheritance, and harassment by in-laws. The goal of the bill is to protect the victims of domestic violence as well as any children within the family unit. The most progressive part of the bill, by Kenyan standards, is that it also addresses sexual violence in the home. In a country that views a wife as property, it is nearly revolutionary that there should be protection for a woman for sexual aggression from her husband.
Furthermore, the bill allows police officers to arrest perpetrators of domestic violence without a warrant, separating them with enough speed that could save a woman or child’s life.
Domestic violence, physical, sexual, and emotional, remains a problem in Kenya, and there are countless victims who still need help and support. But the Protection Against Domestic Violence Bill is a huge step in the right direction, allowing Kenya to emerge as a safer and more egalitarian country.