CRIMES OF PASSION

Women's liberation threatens male ego — experts

Traditionally, men would call the shots in relationships, but tables have turned and men get angry and scared

In Summary

•A break-up is characterised by anger and hatred, if not managed carefully it can lead to depression

•Male hormone testosterone triggers them to seek revenge when 'belittled' 

Psychiatrist Dr Peter Njagih Kumantha on upsurge in femicide, the killing of women
TABLES TURNED: Psychiatrist Dr Peter Njagih Kumantha on upsurge in femicide, the killing of women
Image: FILE:

Experts have cited changing patterns in dating and women's empowerment for increased homicides — femicides —  when relationships fall apart or men feel spurned. 

A recent wave of murders after unrequited love or love gone sour has been surging.

It is either an estranged lover killing a partner or a wife turning against her husband simply explained as 'crimes of passion'. Then there are the cases of love that's never returned.

In the last seven days, at least five young women have had their lives cut short through gender-based violence, said Faiza Mohamed, Equality Now Africa director. 

The most sensational case is that of a Moi University medical student Ivy Wangeci who was fatally axed by a childhood friend turned stalker. 

Former director of Mathari Mental Hospital and psychiatrist Njagi Kumantha explains that a break-up slowly leads to depression. If not properly handled, it is characterised by anger over rejection and hatred. 

Traditionally, this largely affected women as men were the dominant figures in society and they largely called the shots in a romantic relationship. This included making and breaking the relationship.

The impact of this was that in most instances, only women underwent the agony of a break-up and some even took their lives.

"What has happened is that there has been a change in the pattern of harm that a failed relationship takes," Kumantha said.

However, the trend is now changing and the pain is felt by their male counterparts, thus giving rise to homicides, he explains. 

"Today, a woman can approach a man and even call off the relationship when they feel things are not working."  But then there's the wounded male ego to contend with.

This can be explained by the decades-long women's empowerment campaigns that have made women know that they are equal to men, challenging the male ego.

However, the problem beneath is that over the years of women empowerment, there has been no deliberate effort to change men's perception of women, the psychologist says.

"A man being a man still has this kind of male ego and the fighting spirit and having been offended, they go into fighting mode and turn on to the 'offensive' person. This sometimes ends up with killing the partner," the former director says.

However, Kumantha warns that those in relationships where a partner is short-tempered or has uncontrollable anger ought to be cautious.

Another point is that the male testosterone hormone gives a man a fighting spirit when confronted by a challenge.

The doctor says in some instances when overwhelmed, the hormone could take control and drive rage, driving men to seek revenge.

He notes that men prefer to confront their problems rather than avoiding them or 'talking them out'. 

A good social network is a good shock absorber that can help one overcome fatal reactions after a relationship fails, he says. He, however, strongly advises that one seeks psychiatric help if they feel overwhelmed by anger.

"Anybody can move from that normal to an abnormal state. If you feel a relationship is wearing you down, please seek help from a psychiatrist before visiting a psychologist," he says.

"Because psychiatrist will tell you if your condition is serious enough to be labelled as a mental illness or it is just an emotional problem. If it's serious enough they know what to do." 

(Edited by R.Wamochie)