Gender Differences in STS Levels among Judges and Magistrates in Kenya

Peter Muchemi


The Judiciary is responsible for fair and efficient administration of justice. Due to adjudication of cases involving traumatised clients, judges and magistrates may get vicariously traumatised and hence suffer secondary traumatic stress (STS) which may impact negatively on their capacity to execute duties effectively. In this regard, this study was set to find out the degree to which this psychological condition was related to gender. The study was guided by Constructive Self Development Theory. Using ex-post facto research design, data was collected from 83 judicial officers in Rift Valley Region, Kenya, through a self-administered questionnaire. Collected data was analysed through mean calculations and percentages with respect to nominal scale data while ordinal scale data was analysed by use of inferential statistics, specifically t-test, at .05 alpha levels. Analysis task was accomplished through the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) programme, version 22.0. Globally, female respondents’ level of STS was higher than that of their male counterparts. However, this gender difference in global STS level was statistically insignificant (p > .05). Female officers also surpassed male officers in intrusion and arousal STS symptoms. The difference concerning intrusion symptoms between male and female respondents was statistically significant (t = .002, p < .05). The study is useful to The Judiciary in that it can gain understanding on how traumatizing court cases impacts on each gender. Hence, the need to sensitize officers on how to identify STS symptoms, in order to take the necessary intervention measures before such symptoms reach a critical stage. Further, the judiciary may consider according more preparation training and counselling to female officers in order to reduce the risk of developing STS. Finally, scholars may identify investigation pathways they can follow with a view unearthing other factors that can influence the level of STS among judicial officers within and outside Kenya.

Keywords: Arousal, Avoidance, Gender, Intrusion, Judicial Officer, STS

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5766 ISSN (Online)2225-0484

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