As published on news.africa on May 13th 2020
By KAMAU MAICHUHIE
Cases of domestic violence have been on the rise in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic. From a global perspective, reports of spiralling gender-based violence cases have been reported in the wake of imposed lockdowns and curfews.
Kenya has not been spared either. Since the first case of coronavirus was reported in the country on March 13, the government took drastic measures to curb the spread of the disease greatly impacting on lives of citizens and how they relate.
Many have been forced to work from home and with the dusk-to-dawn curfew, the vulnerable have been subjected to abuse with little or no help forthcoming.
Chief Justice David Maraga on April 2 expressed concern on the rise of sexual offences cases in the last two months.
“Sexual offences constitute 35.8 per cent of cases recorded since March and this is a worrying trend,” he said.
It is against this backdrop that Absa Bank Kenya PLC has partnered with health insurance provider Minet to provide psychosocial support to affected Kenyans through the COVID-19 wellness care line.
Absa Bank Kenya Managing Director Jeremy Awori said: “We are going through a tough time as a country and as Absa, we remain committed to being an active force for good in the communities that we operate in. We are working with like-minded organisations like Minet to help those affected get through the current situation.”
Minet Kenya chief executive officer Sammy Muthui noted that the Covid-19 pandemic has presented a unique mental, physical, emotional, financial and spiritual wellness challenge to those infected and affected.
“Minet’s partnership with Absa, through the Ministry of Health, is our way of giving in the fight against this global scourge and we hope to collectively bring positive change in the lives of those infected and affected. Minet already has the infrastructure in place based on the wellness programmes that we currently run for various organisations,” said Muthui.
Those experiencing psychological distress have been encouraged to reach out through a USSD code *202*04# to access counsellors who will provide the support required.
“With this initiative, victims now have a chance to reach out through a toll-free line to access professional counselling,” Muthui noted.
The programme will initially be rolled out to those in quarantine facilities, isolation centers, their families and health care workers. Speaking during the Covid-19 daily brief, Health ministry Chief Administrative Secretary Dr Rashid Aman commended the two organisations. Earlier, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe noted that cases of domestic violence have been on the increase urging communities to work together to address the issue. “I am appealing to our religious leaders to offer counselling to families in order to help us deal with this emerging problem,” said Kagwe. He added that the harsh economic times have significantly contributed to increased stress levels resulting in an increase in violence. “I am appealing to men and women not to ventilate their anger and stress on their spouses by meting violence on them,” he said.