The Covid 19 pandemic has proven to drastically change the livelihoods of many people. According to the World Health Organization (2020) in other cases, reporting, calls, and service use are decreasing as women find themselves unable to leave the house or access help online or via telephone.
Violence is increasing in the communities and more children are prone to vulnerability. The confinement gives permission for perpetrators to have control and complete access. The inability to seek help has become a challenge for many women and children.
Quality essential services where women and children seek assistance are limited. Informal network support such as friends and neighbours are limited due to the adherence of social distancing. This challenge exposes more women and children to violence.
This is a very difficult time for the nation.
I noticed the #hashtag #IWas on Twitter last week trending for several days. I then decided to follow the hashtag and found myself being very conflicted. Women, men and the LGBTIQ community sharing their heart-breaking encounters on being sexually assaulted. The curiosity in me took the time to read the tweets and identify patterns.
I then observed the common pattern of the family members sexually assaulting. The abusive husbands or varsity boyfriends. The students or “male friends”. Then we have these perpetrators that violate the LGBTIQ community through corrective rape.
I looked at the repetitive cycles of sexual assault.
I am so conflicted because some of these stories end in silence. Most of these stories are not reported cases. If reported, perpetrators are out and causing more harm. I think what saddened me was the number of stories that are still yet to be told. The hashtag “I am still not ready to talk about it”.
How do we as a nation end sexual assault when in our family gatherings, we honour rapist because they are the head of the family? How do we begin to rebuke rapists on being entitled to bodies not belonging to them?
I am terribly conflicted.