By Linneah Lijodi
COVID-19 isn’t the only pandemic going across the world right now as gender based violence continues to infiltrate our communities and households. The 16 days of activism against gender based violence was an opportunity for individuals and organizations to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women. It was a time to reflect on the struggle that women face and the resilience they have shown in the face of persistent violence. Sadly, in Mukuru, most women are not as informed with their rights and think of violence as okay and a form of love to them. In as much as this is ridiculous on all levels, they persevere and feel comfortable. One of them told me ‘’at least it doesn’t happen on a daily basis”
It is even worse now that we have the pandemic here with us and there is the stay at home order and curfew being imposed. Gender based violence is rampant. I have spoken to some women who are affected by violence in their households. They say they prefer to talk about it with fellow women though it is a difficult and painful experience one says “Tushazoea. Sasa tutafanya aje na tuko na watoto.” (We are already used to it. We have to because we have children.)
This is sad women are subjected to physical, emotional and psychological torture over the years and as the pandemic continues to ravage the country, so is this monster of gender based violence.
Before the pandemic, men were not home most of the time and that gave women and children some time to relax and unwind. This shows that most women live in fear with their spouse. When women are alone, you find them seated in groups talking and laughing heartily and throwing their troubles to the wind as they bask and enjoy each and every second of it. When the men come back all women dash to their homes and fewer words are uttered. Children suffer from psychological trauma over time and with no attention paid to their well-being, they grow up traumatised by the childhood event. Women are the backbone of every nation. They do so much for their families and get little or no appreciation for it.
Most women choose to stay in abusive relationships for the children, to be provided for, to be respected as married women, for companionship and so many personal reasons that make them endure all the harm that is being done to them. Mukuru kwa Njenga does not have a public safe house where women and children can run to get professional help. The government needs to put more effort in creating such spaces where women are free and can be empowered and can take care of their families and themselves without being dependent on anyone, as it is their dependency that has caused a lot of the gender based violence cases.
Mukuru community justice centre is on the frontline to create awareness and bring to book the perpetrators of violence in our community. With joint effort with community members, we can overcome this menace of violence against women. If you see it, speak out against it.