The last time *Sarah (not her real name) had a domestic scuffle with the husband; he nearly took life out of her.
“He came home drunk in the wee hours of the night, beat me up and stabbed me with a knife,” recalls Sarah as she chokes back tears. It was then that she made a decision to leave her matrimonial home.
Sarah recounts that it was not the first time that she had been abused by the husband; on several occasions, she was subjected to a slap, a punch, a kick… and to tap it all intimidation and coercion that only become worse during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Our first born daughter couldn’t take the abuse, she ran away from home. It got to a point where my husband wanted to rape her,” says the 55-year-old mother of four.
Before the pandemic, Sarah was a laundry woman, she would move from house to house doing laundry and other domestic chores, when the pandemic struck, no one was willing to employ her even for other menial jobs. She says, the Covid-19 pandemic is one of the worst moments in her life.
Sarah is however not alone, her experiences mirror that of many women and girls across Kenya whose lives have been affected by the wave of intimate partner violence during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Like Sarah, *Pendo (not her real name) was gang raped on her way home from the market. She had crossed over to Mombasa mainland from Likoni where she usually hawks cassava and coconut to make ends meet. The event of that fateful night left her with a life threatening hemorrhage.
In April, the government and women rights organizations, CREAW among them issued an alert of the increasing cases of gender based violence meted on women and girls. The recent study by the National Crime Research Center indicated a 92 percent increase in cases of GBV in the period of January and June 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. The nature of cases reported include, rape, assault, murder, sexual offences, defilement, child marriage, psychosocial torture and child neglect.
In the wake of this, CREAW with the support from Oxfam in Kenya adapted its intervention in Nairobi and Mombasa to provide support services to survivors of gender based violence like Sarah and Pendo. Mainly, the intervention targeted women and girls from informal settlements with cash reliefs to aid them in meeting basic necessities such as food, water, rent and healthcare for them and their families.
“The first thing I did when I received the cash from CREAW is to pay rent and the rest of the monies I bought food, mask and sanitizer,” says Sarah who has also received a resilient fund from CREAW to establish a business that would sustain her and her four children.
Currently Sarah and Pendo also receiving continuous psychosocial support services to enable them heal and build resilience during the pandemic and thereafter.