#silent killer among the Blind in Kenya.
Domestic violence has many faces, many victims, and many stories. This is just one of them, but it is the untold story in Kenya and Africa at large. Many dreams of persons who are Blind or visual impairment are shuttered by undergoing domestic violence in silence.
Many people are confused about what domestic violence is, what causes it, and why women stay in the abusive relationship. According to United nations women commission Domestic violence is a pattern
of intimidation, coercion, and violence. It includes everything the abuser has done in the past and the threat of what he’ll do in the future. The entire
goal of domestic violence is to obtain and maintain power and control over the victim. The pattern of abuse often increases in frequency and severity over
time. Battering can be verbal, physical, emotional, sexual, or economic. An abused person can be of any age, race, class, culture, religion, occupation,
and sexual orientation.
For example, some low vision individuals have faced the breaking down of their self-esteem; they would be asked by their partners to read something they know they couldn’t see or ask totally blind person to find an item in the house and later establish a fault with the house and then comment
about our abilities or rather lack of them. This normally increases the isolation from others, especially in a new set up of things or location where the Blind and low vision person did not recognize.
Many blind and low vision persons especially the women face this silently. Many a times the violence escalates, many realize when its late that their vision was being used against them. Many of the abusers would approach by trying for their blind spot. As it increased, many have quickly
learned to hide this from the abusers. But the fear was always there.
For instance, one of the abusers Abusers learned that turning the lights on or off made it difficult for low vision partner to see and used that to gain an advantage and increase the fear. The abuser would find the victim
before their eyes adjusted to the change.
In addition, as many victims face vision loss made daily life more complicated, the fear and abuse made it overwhelming.
Research indicates that women with disabilities are more likely to suffer domestic violence and sexual assault than women without disabilities. And women
with disabilities report that abuse lasts longer and is more intense than women without disabilities.
Like other women, women with disabilities usually are abused by someone they know, such as a partner or family member. In addition, women with disabilities
face the risk of abuse by healthcare providers or caregivers. Caregivers can withhold medicine and assistive devices, such as wheelchairs or braces. They
can also refuse to help with daily needs like bathing, dressing, or eating.
There are inadequate support groups where abuse of blind and low vision persons has been recognized.
Many Kenyans fear talking about it.
When victims who are low vision and Blind talk about it no own would believe them.
Many of the perpetrators of domestic violence have taught their victims to trust no one, and so many low vision and blind persons are afraid to allow the extent of the vision loss be known by anyone. They struggle to avoid situations they find themselves
dangerous, and that could include something as simple as someone standing in the wrong spot. Mostly, Family and relatives mostly would look the other way; friends these days have become busy. Furthermore, the low vision and blind victims see themselves us Being physically less capable of defending themselves
Difficulty in reporting maltreatment due to the lack of accessible forms of communication
Inaccessibility of information and counselling services due to barriers in the physical environment and due to the lack of accessible forms of communication
(this is particularly attributes to increase of violence.
This also makes the victims of domestic violence to feel that they are somehow at fault, and in most cases, they usually blame the vision loss. Of which and they tend to believe it.
In Kenya and Africa at large, there are inadequate trainers to assist in training related to vision loss.
The existing mainstream support mechanism are not ready to serve blind or visually impaired person due to there services not being accessible.
I opine that Kenya and Africa we should start training The Importance of Learning Self-Protection and Vision Rehabilitation Skills.
This would go a long way to ensure victims of domestic violence learn to protect themselves. They should learn about their vision and how to use it more efficiently. This restored their confidence. It helped them to see
that they are still capable individuals, someone who had value. That is something often lost to abuse.
Paul Mugambi is a senior policy consultant and commentator on social public discoes.