Society Must Look Itself In the Eye and Converse About the Causes and Cures of this Violence

Society Must Look Itself In the Eye and Converse About the Causes and Cures of this Violence

Mohamed Haji
About a week ago, a secondary school headteacher was sentenced to 10 years in jail for allegedly defiling a girl who was one of his students. A couple of months before that, a high school girl was allegedly abducted, drugged and raped by three teenagers on her way to school. The girl had to be flown to Nairobi for treatment where she spent weeks in Nairobi Women Hospital. While the resilience of our society is super abnormal, she will of course be scarred for life. One of the teenagers claimed to have been part of the gang was jailed for 20 years. Others fled the country. Few months after this sad and shameful incident, a primary school girl was beheaded in the school compounds by a man in his 40s said to be mentally unstable, an incident that has traumatized the town residents and the school children. Many other incidents of this nature have been reported in the county. This is the stuff that begets violence only that its latent. When violence wants to break out, society begins to act in before it starts to act out. Trauma untreated escalates into civil war.
The prosecution and sentensing of the teacher has polarised families and communities, shocked the city and covered the county under a cloud of shame. While it is not the first of its kind, it is certainly the most publicised with the saddest of ending where a young girl has lost her dignity and virginity and a young man his career and indeed life. For the rest of time, the psychological damage visited on this girl may never heal and life may never be the same again for the young teacher who will remain a pariah forever in the eyes of this community. The anguish these cases cause society and the accompanying mental health impact for the primary victims is immeasurable.
These unprecendented violence in a culturally conservative community, and the particular untold violence on women has shocked many. Society needs serious conversation over why this is happening to our girls and boys and how it could be nipped in the bud. Difficult discussions about the changing times, mores and norms of our society must begin. The changing relationship dynamics between the genders, the configuration of power and resources, the social media phenomenon and the declining pristine cultural practices are some of the issues society must develop the audacity and tools to have a conversation over.

Age of Anxiety

What happened to our moral compasss? While we had our fair share of mischeive as teenagers, violence was not part of it and this level of it was certainly unknown. What could society do to address the increasing permissiveness of the environment we live in and how may we assist our teenagers navigate this increasingly porous and often hostile environment?
The dramatic changes of our social settings, the ease to access inapprorpriate materials of sexual nature, the expensive weddings and therefore decline in marriages could be some of the causes of the sexual violence we witness today. Exploring the cures is our responsibility.
We live in an age of anxiety. We live at times where pornography is a click away, where nudity is the norm and where one receives over 300 Youtube videos an hour without solicitation. This not only has influence on what and how our children learn but on what kind of world we bequeath them. It is not a cure to jail our wayward teenagers because we will only be addressing the symptoms and not the causes of this curse. It is not a durable solution to turn the other way and treat this as one-off and certainly not an option to fold our arms and watch our world crumble under our watch. Locking ourselves in our rooms and treating this violence as something that only happens to others is not an intelligent way to look at it. We are all together in this; the victim and the perpetrator, the parent and the neighbour and even those who live in ivory towers. No one lives in a vacuum and we cannot disentangle ourselves from society. We live with it, we live it and we are it. The leaking ship will sink with all of us unless we join hands to mend our broken, to heal our sick and to stop the leakage. Something ought to be done and done quickly.
OUR RESPONSIBILITY
Our children must see hope; not feel helpless in the face of adversity. We must make them see a better world ahead not a bleak future in the oven. Our girls must be helped to jealously guard their dignity and integrity while we make them feel safe in their environment. All this serious undertakings will not come about without the collaboration and cooperation of everyone in our society. The young and the old, the youth and the women, the elite and the rest have a role to play to stop this race to the bottom, this violence against our girls and the moral decay of our young boys.