June 30, 2022

COVID-19 MITIGATION: Reducing Cases of Domestic Conflict and Violence

Prof Dr. Halimu Shauri. image; (Courtesy)

Episode 24


(Dean; School of Humanities and Social Sciences; Pwani University)
There has been growing tension in families and households brought about by the mitigation measures to tame the spread of the dreaded corona virus.
Initially, in many homes there existed tensions but because people were going about their daily businesses, this in a way diffused conflicts and violence in homes.
To put it candidly, there were many diversions to family and household conflicts and tensions.
These included the work place, reducing to a great extent the contact between spouses. The social joints to pass time after work did the same function of averting full blown conflicts and violence.
The football matches and maskans did a lot of social good too, diffusing conflicts and violence through postponement and natural healing.

However, the mitigation measures against COVID-19 have changed the whole scenario. We have now to work at home, stay at home, self quarantine and isolation orders! What this means is increased time with our spouses at home.
To some this is a good opportunity to further cement family and spousal relationships; a good thing indeed where bonding is envisioned to happen.
However, this is oblivious of negation of the fact that families and homes are an arena for a continuous push and pull.
Husband pulls, the wife pulls and the children pull too, while they all push at the same time.
What an arena to live in! Life is a about overcoming challenges, one being the push and pull within families and homes.
This makes a family or home a balanced sea-saw. Those who cannot balance will fall and those who balance will survive.

I have seen and personally received requests to shade light on the emerging problem of escalating domestic conflict and violence in the face of implementing COVID-19 mitigation measures: stay at home, work from home, curfew, cessation of movement, self quarantine and isolation, all have brought havoc in the family.

Some of the measures are indeed precursor to domestic conflicts and violence. Indeed:
“While social distancing works well in preventing COVID-19 infections outside the home, it has brought to the fore the ugly side of families and homes in form of escalating conflicts and domestic violence by reducing the social distance between spouses in the avoidance of family woes”
The increase spousal personal contact at home and the reduced spacial distance have turned some spouses, men and women, into beasts!
Truly taken them back to their animal kingdom where they belong in the way they handle conflicts at home.
Some women and even men have been chased away from their homes; some homes are a silent battle field over the television remote control, control of the kitchen or the bedroom.
In fact, in some families I have heard the bedroom is a mine field! If you don’t lie on your side of the bed or roll to touch your spouse you may find yourself on the floor out of the explosion that will ensure from the “bedmine”.
Some no longer sleep on their matrimonial beds and the coping mechanisms are many to mention but a few.
There are many silent cries and we have to intervene as a nation to avert another crisis. We may be preventing corona successful and killing the family institution softly.
At the end of the corona war we may realize many families are broken, leaving spouses with overt and covert scars of the happenings during this time. In this regard, allow me to say:
“Extra ordinary times, such as this of COVID-19, requires extra ordinary innovation in handling family and domestic conflicts to ensure they don’t deteriorate to violence and family break ups”
I urge myself and other spouses, married or come we enjoy, to desist from violence. I ask them to be creative and innovative at home to avert a complete collapse of their relationship.
We must innovatively steer the family to unity and happiness and fight COVID-19 together. Remember divided we fall and united we win!

Kenyans are forced to work from their homes after COVID -19 hit the country. Image; (Courtesy)

Behaving normally and demanding what you never demanded before COVID-19 is defeatist.
Some am told have become Joginda Singhs, driving their vehicles very fast, some black ants eating, all types of food continuously and some just there, doing nothing like they have been caged in a fattening factory.
Finally, allow me to say it’s your creativity and innovations that will ensure you emerge victorious as a family, without COVID-19 infection and with your family relationship and sanity intact.
If you don’t want to be creative and innovative in dealing with conflict and tension at home as a result of the COVID-19 preventive measures, Chunua Achebe said:

Health officers in personal protective equipment. Image ; (Courtesy)

“Things will fall apart, because the center (family or home) can no longer hold”.

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