Gender differential effects of challenges facing marriages involving people with disabilities with their able-bodied partners in Kiandutu Slums, Thika Town, Kenya
Indoshi, Harriet Voywa
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This study was carried out with the primary aim of unearthing the unique challenges facing couples in unions involving people with disabilities married to able-bodied spouses. The study also sought to find out the gender differential effects of these challenges. The rationale for this was so as to salvage mixed marriages from collapsing by addressing the unique challenges that they faced. In this manner, the study acknowledged the importance of marriages as the foundation pillars for stable and functioning families. In as much as the government, NGOs, religious institutions and other stake holders have made significant efforts in addressing challenges facing PWDs, no specific attention has been directed to those in mixed marriages with the aim of helping the marriages stabilize. The research design adopted was case study. The study sampled 17 people with visual disabilities, 8 people with physical handicap and 20 able-bodied people married to PWDs. The theoretical framework adopted was a merger of Sen's Capability Approach, Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs theory and the Social Model of Disability. Purposive and snowball sampling were used. Purposive sampling targeted the intended participants who had the information needed since they were the ones affected. The instruments employed in the research were the Interview Schedules, Observation Checklists and Focused Group Discussions. The main conclusion drawn from the research was that couples in mixed marriages experienced complex and unique challenges mainly because of the disability status of one of the spouses. These couples were in dire need of specialized guidance and counseling amid other intervention measures so as to save their marriages from collapsing. The married women with disabilities were doubly disadvantaged on account of their gender and disability status hence effort should be placed especially so as to protect them from abusive marriages. Couples in mixed marriages and those preparing to get into such unions need to be enlightened through seminars and counseling classes on how to sustain and lead happy marriage lives despite the challenges encountered. As part of suggestions to further study, a comparative study should be done between mixed marriages and marriages involving PWDs married to PWDs.