Trauma in African women and children: a study of the Kenyan experience as illustration of the phenomenon

  • F G Njenga
Keywords: Trauma, globalisation, domestic violence, women, children


In traditional African societies, roles and responsibilities of its members were carefully regulated, giving the community a sense of cohesion, continuity and integrity. Following the periods of colonization, wars of liberation, independence and post colonial self governments, many countries in Africa have disintegrated into volatile autocratic dictatorships that have led to many wars, genocide, internal and external displacements of the people, recently complicated by natural and man made disasters. AIDS is a recent entrant to the equation. In the midst of these changes (and traumas) the family unit has been denuded of its security, continuity and order. African traditional education systems have been replaced by ill tested western models of education, while time tested rites of passage have been declared health hazards (e.g. circumcision) in many parts of Africa. Marriage systems that traditionally conferred stability derived from the nature of the marital bonds have been replaced by fragile western monogamous unions. These changes have affected relationships “Behind Closed Doors”. This paper describes the effects of this type of globalization on Africans taking Kenya as a case example, exploring domestic violence and the abuse of children.

The content of this paper was presented at a symposium “Behind closed doors in Africa. The case of women and children”, American Psychiatric Association annual conference Atlanta, Georgia ,23rd May 2005.

Keywords: Trauma, globalisation, domestic violence, women, children

> South African Psychiatry Review Vol. 10 (1) 2007: pp 27-30

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eISSN: 1994-8220