People write reflections about how the year was at the end of the year, but half way through 2020, I felt like writing about it. The year so far is a year of reading and listening. I have listened to all sort of news on the current situation, science, lifestyle, cooking, etc.
This year is also a year when all the countries faced a big blow about whatever systems they had so far been so proud about. Each country is facing the pandemic which is more than any disaster, as the name signifies. And if we look at the nature of the COVID-19 situation, it’s more than anything else the world has ever experienced. This pandemic has changed all aspects of our life. But I would like to shed light on the current topic of sexual harassment, abuse and domestic violence.
Over the last few weeks there has been heightened concern on the connection between lockdown and abuse. This stands out among programmes in last few weeks on thousands of topics like economic crisis, social issues, etc. Also, mental health issues are really very complex and a big area, not a simple subject to talk about it.
Domestic violence and abuse are nothing new in country like Bangladesh. Maybe it happens all over the world and more in this pandemic time but in Bangladesh it is a bit unique. It is always there, whether any other crisis or pandemic. The question is, "Why in any crisis do people just talk about gender-related issues, but do nothing to stop the violence?” I feel unconsciously it’s a defence against accepting crisis as a crisis. People just enjoy get talking about male vs female dynamics. WHO also mentioned the increase of abuse, and also mentioned many more topics and concerns like economic, social issues, due to COVID-19.
During this pandemic peopled stopped doing many things like praying in groups in the mosques, schools are shut, shopping malls are closed and people are staying at home, at least trying to stay at home. People who used to harass girls in the street, in the shopping malls, public places and in public transport, are at home and it’s a very simple calculation they are not going to leave their abusive behaviour so easily. Violence is going to happen.
It also sounds very obvious that many things will happen in a new form or previous form. This is one area that is not happening only because of pandemic -IT WAS ALWAYS THERE. But I have a feeling that this time people will not be giving up the ‘juicy’ topic related to women abuse where it’s about women especially. Is there anything new to talk about women and violence and depression? I would like to share as a mental health professional that, rather than analysing the abuse and types of abuse, people should talk more about bringing awareness to the society not to do any kind of violence or abuse.
Covid-19 taught us many things and now this is the time to look at the issues as they stand, not to use psychological games by talking about abuse at home, which was always there as we didn't do noting as a society as a country. This discussion will just divert this nation somewhere more complex.
* Mousumi Mahmud Sabina is a counseling psychologist