OPINION: Speak out your agony


OPINION: Speak out your agony
FILE PHOTO: Residents gather along the streets of Mathare Valley slums amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Nairobi, Kenya April 19, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya/File Photo

By Angelina Cikanda

“And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,” excerpts from William Butler Yeats’ poem “The Second Coming.”

This is the apocalyptic nature of what COVID-19, almost a century later has become! As Mother nature is revealing more about humanity, the earthlings weak under belly is being laid bare and exposed badly.

COVID-19 is on everyone’s lips. What is it? How it is caused? Prevention measures, containment measures and all things about safeguarding.

Weak nations remain the most exposed because of lacking to invest in the health of its citizens. After the helter-skelter of chasing after support, comes accountability where “COVID-19 millionaires” have emerged. Just what are we supposed to do?

Are we hungry or angry enough? Our basic needs remain, the pandemic notwithstanding. Of all, food is life! So who is feeding the population? More critically, who is feeding the homes? What safety nets exist to attend to our daily needs?

Our traditional societies dictate that the alpha figure must provide for those under their care. It’s therefore no wonder that stress levels for breadwinners is at an all-time high.

Containment measures are demanding that regardless of societal stature, all must stay within the walls of their houses. No bars, no friends, no entertainment, no school, no games, no gyms, no relatives, no work but survive.

There is no more privilege. The absence of appropriate stress management skills is causing an imaginable strain of the once vibrant breadwinners.

There is not enough money! Not enough for food! Not enough for rent! The children are crying, their empty stomachs are rumbling and they can’t go out to play.

No wonder brains are on overdrive mode fearing starvation. Those in employment have to deal with hard work for half pay or no pay.

So egos are bruised, the lion and lionesses of the households are injured!! The curbs are easy prey for the hungry vultures.

Communities are more dangerous now, driven by instinct rather than humaneness. Pain breeds disrespect, lack of morals, anarchy and is an open field for all forms of abuse.

Consequently, rape, sodomy, intimate partner violence, domestic violence, exploitation, denial of resources, are all spiking atrocities that communities are currently experiencing. Neither male or female is safe.

Our poor coping mechanism is manifesting itself in the many cases of gender-based violence being reported in our health facilities, police stations and non-governmental organizations.

Teen pregnancies are also part of the silhouettes of the pandemic, adding to the pressure to meet daily sustenance.

Social media; from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and even local news, has more crime being reported on a daily basis than memes.

Intimate partners can longer share resources and support each other since equality is a mirage and not our lived reality. This is our new normal!

To perpetrators who shall be caught, the justice system, through the laws of the land shall deal with your behavior.

Therefore, report abuse. Access to justice agencies; the police, public prosecutors, health facilities must all accelerate the process of investigations and the judiciary must set up special courts to depose in a timely manner, gender-based violence cases.

As for the trauma, counseling helps in healing the wounds inflicted by this pandemic. Counselors are available 24 hours to support so go and seek psychological support.

It’s time the national government and all 47 county governments set up psychosocial support centres where survivors can be supported to recover and build resilience

Makueni is a good example, having established a shelter facility.

A small fraction of those most vulnerable shall regain their dignity through cash transfers from CREAW and the Wangu Kanja Foundation in informal settlements in Nairobi in a project funded by the European Union.

Do not let the pain of the pandemic confine us within the walls in our houses; Ask for help, and call 0800720186.

Reach out and speak out to public authorities, humanitarian and human rights organizations who have established response mechanisms.

If society is to survive this pandemic, a few of us must witness it and share the tales for generations to come.

Humans; male and female must refuse to be pushed to extinction by COVID-19. Everyone must do their part to survive but let’s arrive there together and in one piece.

Angelina Cikanda is the Programme Development Manager at the Center for Rights Education and Awareness (CREAW).

CREAW is part of a consortium of organizations including Oxfam in Kenya, the Kenya Red Cross Society, Concern Worldwide, ACTED, Impact Initiatives and the WanguKanja Foundation that have launched a safety nets initiative funded by the European Union to help vulnerable informal settlement residents in Nairobi.

This Publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.”

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