Covid-19 Pandemic And Broken Families
Thirty seven year old Mary Wanjiru and her three children survive on thrown out food she picks at the market.
She looks weak and traumatized throughout the entire interview with me.
Her tattered clothes and broken nails only tell the story of a woman almost giving up in life.
“I pick food from the market to feed my children… I pick bad tomatoes that have been thrown out by people at the market,” she says.
“I don’t have a job but if you ask my children, they will tell you that their mother has a lot of money because I don’t tell them that it is thrown out food that I picked,” she says.
Wanjiru was a hawker in Huruma slums when the coronavirus pandemic hit the country and the entire world.
Her woes started when one day she failed to meet the 8 pm curfew set by the government.
Too frightened to run, police officers enforcing the curfew rule, caught up with her, beat her up and commanded her to run.
“I was coming home from work, unfortunately time caught up with me and curfew time caught me on the road. People started to run but I was unable to, so the police officer in the area caught up with me and gave me a few lashes. I fell down, then he ordered me to stand up and go home,” she says.
What awaited her at home, changed her life completely, her husband also physically assaulted her for allegedly arriving home late.
“When I arrived home, my husband beat me up and broke my two legs. I stayed at home unable to do anything, I was saved by an NGO after they noticed how my children were suffering,” says Wanjiru.
Damaris Onyango, a counsellor from Amani Training Center who handled Wanjiru’s case, describes her situation as traumatizing.
“You can imagine, this lady has been walking throughout the day, she comes back home in the evening, she is harassed by the police and then at home she is beaten by the husband,” says Onyango.
Onyango says that Wanjiru’s case was not the only case of a woman was unfortunately not the only case of a woman who had faced violence from both the police and her husband.
Away from Wanjiru, 60 year old Jane Njoki separated with her husband of over 40 years. Njoki who lives in Mathare slums says that the covid-19 restrictions set by the government put a strain on her marriage.
“The lockdown made us all to stay at home. This in in turn bred some animosity between us. The final incident that made us separate was a physical fight I had with him,” narrates Njoki.
“The fight was so ugly, glass windows to our house was shattered,” she says.
Apparently they both reported the violence at the Muthaiga Police Station upon which they were both referred to the area chief for arbitration.
“We both reported the incident to the police. They referred us to the chief who in turn asked us to look for elders to help us solve the issue,” says Njoki.
A visit at various gender desks at police stations across indicates a spike in the GBV cases. The many red tapes in the police service would however not allow the police officers manning the gender desks to give us the exact number and figures recorded.
In May last year Amani Training Counseling Center in Kariobangi recorded at least 14 cases of women who had suffered GBV, two males and seven young girls.
“The ones that were able to come to the center, for women we had 14 women who came to the center who had suffered gender based violence during that period. The male we had two who suffered violence at home. So there was a rise in cases.
But as the cases kept soaring Onyango says that they were faced with a major challenge of getting safe houses for the victims forcing them to take the victims back to their homes.
The Nairobi County Governmrnt has partnered with an NGO called Crew Kenya to offer counseling services for victims of GBV.
Abubakar Andaman an officer at the Nairobi County Ministry of Sports and Gender says that the partnership with Crew has seen them set up gender desks in wards.
“At least Crew has free counsellors, so we mobilise women and girls for counseling. Sometimes we profile them and take them to Crew for help,” says Andaman.
“They are also given financial literacy to empower them,” he says.
So far only 200 women have benefitted from the programme by the Nairobi County Government. What happens to the thousands of others still undergoing trauma caused by GBV?
BY; WEMA TOYWA
VIDEO OF THE DAY; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brBc-pIgLPg