Kenyan Man Found Guilty of Domestic Abuse, But Walks

Moita Ole Risa, a Kenyan man accused by his wife of physical abuse, was found guilty Thursday. Agnes Siyiankoi’s husband beat her with a club for five hours. She was the first in her Maasai tribe to bring her spouse to trial for abuse.

Although Magistrate Charles Gitonga found Ole Risa guilty, his punishment was mild. Ole Risa was ordered to either pay an $83 fine or to spend six months in prison. Ole Risa decided to forfeit his bail and walked out of the courtroom a free man.

In Kenya, spousal abuse pervades all economic and social classes. While abuse is illegal, women still face public scrutiny for making complaints about abuse they suffer. Siyiankoi, unhappy with the sentence her husband received, plans to appeal the ruling.

“I will pursue the case to set an example to women,” said the mother of four. “I am taking care of the children alone. My parents are ready to return the three-cow dowry that they paid for me.”

Siyiankoi’s lawyer, Gideon Solonka, claimed to be satisfied with the ruling. “It was okay in the sense that the court found that wife-beating is wrong,” he said. “It is revolutionary not only in the Maasai community but to the whole republic that wife-beating is not justifiable, it is a criminal offense punishable in law.”


Associated Press - October 8, 1998

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