Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 247–257 | Cite as

Domestic Violence and Female Genital Mutilation in Kenya: Effects of Ethnicity and Education

  • John Gordon Simister
Original Article


This paper investigates domestic violence against women, including definitions of ‘domestic violence;’ and investigates “Female Genital Mutilation.” Data for this paper are from three national household surveys in Kenya: ‘Demographic & Health Survey’ (2003), Afrobarometer (2003), and ‘Work, Attitudes, & Spending’ (2004). Previous research in many countries has found convincing evidence of a tendency for domestic violence to be less common in households where the respondent and/or spouse have more education. This paper adds a new factor: the respondent’s mother’s education also seems relevant to prevalence of GBV (perhaps because of childhood socialization). This pattern applies to both experience of violence, and attitudes to such violence. There also appears to be a strong link between ‘Female Genital Mutilation’ (female circumcision) and mother’s education level. In each case, more education is associated with less violence.


Gender-based violence Female genital mutilation Education Ethnic groups Kenya 


  1. Ammar, H. (2006). Beyond the shadows: domestic spousal violence in a “democratizing” Egypt. Trauma, Violence & Abuse, 7(4), 244–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barnett, O. W. (2000). Why battered women do not leave, part 1: external inhibiting factors within society. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 1(4), 343–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bauer, P. (2005). Data codebook for Kenya compiled from Round 2 surveys, downloaded from on 9th August 2009.
  4. CBS (Central Bureau of Statistics) [Kenya], MOH (Ministry of Health) [Kenya], & ORC Macro (2004). Kenya Demographic and Health Survey 2003. Calverton, Maryland: CBS, MOH, & ORC Macro.Google Scholar
  5. Dolan, C. S. (2001). The ‘good wife’: struggles over resources in the Kenyan horticultural sector. Journal of Development Studies, 37(3), 39–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Ellsberg, M., & Heise, L. (2005). Researching violence against women: A practical guide for researchers and activists. Washington: World Health Organization, PATH.Google Scholar
  7. FIDA Kenya (2002). Domestic violence in Kenya: report of a baseline survey among women in Nairobi, Federation of women lawyers. Downloaded 1st November 2004 from
  8. FIDA Kenya (2006). Baseline survey on the level of awareness and impact of CEDAW on rural women in Kenya, Federation of women lawyers. Downloaded 11th October 2009 from
  9. Gwagwa, N. (1998). Money as a source of tension. In A. Larsson, M. Mapetla & A. Schlyter (Eds.), Changing gender relations in Southern Africa: Issues of urban life (pp. 33–55). Lesotho: National University of Lesotho.Google Scholar
  10. Hadi, A. (2005). Women’s productive role and marital violence in Bangladesh. Journal of Family Violence, 20(3), 181–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hassan, F., Refaat, A., & El Defrawi, M. (2000). Domestic violence against women in an urban area: Ismailia, Egypt, Egyptian Journal of Psychiatry, 22. downloaded 12th August 2009.
  12. Jewkes, R. (2002). Intimate partner violence: causes and prevention. The Lancet, 359, 1423–1429.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Johnson, M. P., & Ferraro, K. J. (2000). Research on domestic violence in the 1990s: making distinctions. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62(4), 948–963.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kapoor, S. (2000). Domestic violence against women and girls, UNICEF Innocenti Digest 6, pp. 7–27, Innocenti Research Centre: Florence. downloaded 12th August 2009.
  15. Krishnan, S. (2005). Do structural inequalities contribute to marital violence? Ethnographic evidence from rural south India. Violence Against Women, 11, 759–775.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Martin, S. L., Moracco, K. E., Garro, J., Tsui, A. O., Kupper, L. L., Chase, J. L., & Campbell, J. C. (2002). Domestic violence across generations: findings from northern India. International Journal of Epidemiology, 31, 560–72.Google Scholar
  17. Parish, W. L., Tianfu, W., Laumann, E. O., Suiming, P., & Lo, Y. (2004). Intimate partner violence in China: national prevalence, risk factors and associated health problems. International Family Planning Perspectives, 30(4), 174–181.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. SBO (2009). SBO Research, downloaded 5th August 2009.
  19. Shell-Duncan, B., & Hernlund, Y. (2000). Female “circumcision” in Africa: Dimensions of the practices and debates. In B. Shell-Duncan & Y. Hernlund (Eds.), Female circumcision in Africa: Culture, controversy, and change. Boulder, Colarado: Lynne Rienner.Google Scholar
  20. Wolf, T. P., Logan C., Owiti J., & Kiage P. (2004). A new dawn? Popular optimism in Kenya after the transition, Afrobarometer Working Paper No. 33, downloaded 9th August 2009.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Management DepartmentBirkbeck College (University of London)LondonUK

Personalised recommendations