Violence Against Women during COVID-19.

By Lucky Kobugabe

Today the 28th of May is Menstrual Hygiene Day. It’s another day in 2020, the 21st century. You would like to think that menstruation, a healthy natural for a woman is nothing to cause shame, to stop them from going to school, to be tortured about.

But well, among other things, women still have to suffer period poverty, stereotypes, violence, death because they’re women.

So, for anyone who is about to ask why this is about violence against women, go back to the line above, read it again, internalize it and listen.

How does Violence against women look like?

Keep in mind that Violence Against Women is systemic and not a one individual experience with crime kind of occurrence.

The most discussed form of violence is the physical. A man most times related to the woman and other times not; father, husband, brother, stranger, causes physical harm to a woman because they are a woman.

“Why is there too much salt in the food? Why aren’t you responding to my catcalls? You don’t like me? You’re my wife, you do what I say, I am drunk, I will just beat you, Rape.”
Men using their power over women because society has built a construct that allows them to, patriarchy.

But violence is not always physical and that doesn’t make it any less of violence.
Psychological and economic violence are vile.
Just because a woman isn’t experiencing physical violence doesn’t mean she is not going through violence, it doesn’t mean that her violence is any less too.
“Cyber bullying, cutting women out of their land titles, making threats, making sure women spend all the money they make so they’re unable to save, etc”
Violence is violence in any form.

But violence in a pandemic is violence on steroids.

Imagine that every 1 in 3 women you meet in Uganda has experienced or is experiencing violence. (UN Women)

Now, imagine a number of these women trapped with their abusers in the same house for 60 days without any form of transport to enable them to go out to their families or anywhere else for refuge.

Imagine, the woman whose husband doesn’t want to hear about family planning and she can barely leave the house to go to a clinic, or find a close by open clinic or even have enough money to spend on family planning routine.

Imagine, the woman trapped with a man reminding her everyday how ugly she is, when did she lose herself? Can’t she try to take care of herself? 60 days!

Imagine the woman who can’t work because the rules said no street vending for 60 days. What are her children supposed to eat?

Imagine the woman who had to sleep in the market for 31 days. I cringe imagining the risks to a woman sleeping in an open place.

Imagine a woman who has to take care of everyone in the house every single day and still get on that zoom call and participate actively.

Imagine the pregnant woman who died on the way because she couldn’t get to hospital. Or the woman with the botched abortion because she couldn’t access the right services.

This is not one or two women, this is not Kampala women, this is not women in Uganda or even East Africa, this is women allover the world.

The pandemic just lit a fire on the already dried bush. Violence was always here, this pandemic just like the rest exasperates it.
Inequality is made worse in times of conflict, poverty and disease.

Menstrual hygiene supplies should be free, so should women’s lives be lived; Free, freely.

Lucky Kobugabe is a Human Rights Expert and Activist and a vocal Feminist. She has always stood for Women’s Rights and the plight of the girl child.

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