Women stay put for religious affiliation, financial support and fear of stigma
When news of the heinous act Mr James Kifo Muriuki meted on his wife broke, it shocked the nation to the core.
He allegedly inserted salt, pepper and onions in his wife's private parts before applying superglue mixed with sand to seal it.
Mr Muriuki is said to have returned home that Saturday night from Nairobi, and told his wife they were shifting to another area to avoid been arrested for violating the cessation of movement rules imposed by the government.
Tharaka South Police Commander Kiprop Rutto said the man and his wife left home and when they reached Kathita River, he ordered her to undress and threatened to kill her, accusing her of infidelity. That is when he performed the horrific act.
After being left for dead, she struggled to get to Marimanti Police Station and reported the incident. She was later rushed to the Marimanti Sub-County Hospital by Good Samaritans.
The 30-year-old father of one was arrested by detectives from his hideout in Kaningo, Kitui County.
He was charged at the Chuka law courts with sexual assault, attempted murder, committing unnatural offence and acting indecently against his wife.
He denied the charges and was remanded at the Embu GK prison until June 10, when the court is expected to make a ruling on his bail application.
His wife, Charity Wairimu, recorded a statement with the police and during an interview with journalists, she confessed that for years, she had wanted to leave the abusive marriage but feared after he threatened her.
"Kifo has subjected me to so much pain many times and all I want is justice. I do not understand why my husband would be so cruel and I never thought the cruelty would go this far," she said.
Many more cases have been reported about women staying in abusive marriages until it is too late.
Evelyn Komba, a gender and development specialist, says many women opt to stay put in abusive marriages for fear of stigmatisation by the society once they move out.
Ms Komba says in many instances, women who have walked out of their abusive marriages have ended up being side-lined in their churches, chamas, families and in the society where single mothers or divorcees are looked down upon.
"The stigma inflicted on women who move out of abusive marriages is real. In many instances their parents, kin, relatives and the society treat them differently and unfairly. The fear of losing their social network like in their churches and chamas by being side-lined or ex-communicated from them is also a major undoing," says Ms Komba.
She adds that lack of money for many women is another major undoing that makes them stay in abusive relationships.
"Many of them do not have the financial ability to sustain themselves," she says.
Andonijah Kimanzi, a counselling psychologist, says the reason women tend to stay in abusive unions is because they believe in marriage more than men do.
"Women will tend to stay in a marriage even when the man is walking out of it. They encourage themselves that things will change but more often than not, they never," says Kimanzi.
Pastor Wallace Kabithi of Crown of Victory Church admits that some churches are to blame for making some women stay in abusive marriages.
He says even though the church does not support divorce, there are special circumstances that should be considered especially if spouse is facing abused.
He adds that some religious leaders have been encouraging some of the women coming to them to seek help to pray for their husbands and persevere in their abusive unions in the hope that they will change.
"Some of the churches and religious leaders stand accused on this since they do not allow women to make independent decisions.
The cleric said the fear of being ex-communicated from church was making women stay in abusive marriages.
"Some churches are very strict when it comes to separation and divorce which make women feel intimidated. The church should allow women who feel their lives are in danger to make independent decision in order to safeguard on their lives and that of their children as well," he said.
Pastor Odhiambo advised women in abusive marriages that their safety comes first and urged them to move to a safe place or seek help.