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Impotent Kenyan man hacks his wife’s hands off because she failed to conceive

By Nina Steele 

Kenyan man hacks wife's hands offThere are no words to describe the sadness I felt when I first read this story. If proof was ever needed to show how extreme and ignorant many Africans are when it comes to infertility, this story is it. This man knew that he was the reason why he and his wife could not have children, yet he still blamed her for it. Why? Because that is what tradition demands.

That poor woman could have done what many desperate women do in Africa, namely to have affairs in order to become pregnant. All the signs are that she didn’t. And how does her husband reward her for it? By chopping her hands off.

I have heard many stories within the African community about children who are later found not to be the biological children of the man they have always believed to be their father, generally because DNA test needed to be carried out for one reason or another. An acquaintance of mine from Liberia, was sharing one such story with me, just a few weeks ago. It is something many people are aware of and choose to ignore because doing otherwise will let the genie out of the bottle. As shown in this article from the World Health Organisation, in 50% of cases where a couple is unable to conceive, it is because the man has fertility problems. Regardless of these facts, tradition in Africa demands that the woman be automatically blamed for it.

It seems women in Africa can’t win. If a desperate woman is caught cheating, her husband can make her life hell because of it, even though she did so to save her marriage (and herself). And even if she is not caught, she has to live with the fear that her secret may be revealed one day. All because of a culture which still does not understand the concept of living happily without children.

In the same way that Female Genital Mutilation is now illegal in many parts of Africa, it is time for leaders on the continent to educate their people about the fact that not everyone can have children. And let’s stop this nonsense about bringing God into every conversation about children. This website’s facebook page is littered with people advising those who cannot conceive to keep praying and that eventually, God will answer their prayers. It never occurs to them that not everyone can have children. It is a concept they just don’t get.

Only leaders on the continent can bring an end to this shameful way of treating women. There is no place in the modern world for the kind of ignorance that leads an impotent man to blame his wife for not being able to conceive and maiming her as a result. This story has brought shame on an entire continent, and I hope it becomes the catalyst for dealing with this issue once and for all.

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