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16.05.2020 Feature Article

Unintended consequences

Unintended consequences
LISTEN MAY 16, 2020

The clear victims of the COVID-19 pandemic are the ill and the deceased. The unseen victims of this virus are kids and spouses that are abused daily. The mandatory lockdowns have left the most vulnerable in society exposed to verbal and physical abuse. The consequences of the shutdown are becoming greater than the actual virus, a call to open up the economy is justified surrounding the unprecedented circumstances.

The loss of jobs and uncertainty is leading people to actions that they would not commit under normal circumstances. It has been reported that suicides are up, divorces are being filed at a higher rate, food insecurity has been increasing by the day.

In many parts of West Africa, child labour is on the rise due to the school cancellations. Parents who generally mean well, under strenuous financial circumstances are now commanding their children to go to the fields to work. Over 60% of Cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate is grown in Ivory Coast and Ghana and so it is no surprise that child labour is rampant in these nations. The agriculture industry is where one sees the highest number of children working, being that there is more demand for that kind of work.

The restrictions have left children unprotected and overworked at home. Normally, there would be international auditors who monitor the situation on the ground to see to it that there is no abuse happening. The other consequence of COVID-19 is a rise in spousal abuse, men and women alike are abusing their partner. There should be no excuse for committing violence against another human, it is extremely concerning that the data is pointing to just that. Social services are not as accessible and the need is dire.

Hotlines for domestic abuse victims are being utilized at alarming rates, the nations that are affected the most are the ones that have little to no laws that protect from this. The United Nations points to Middle Eastern countries and Latin American countries as experiencing the most disunity in domestic life.

The West is not exempt from the effects of disunity in home life. The current circumstances have left people immobile and feeling intense anxiety from all aspects of their lives at once. In an ideal world, everyone would have healthy coping mechanisms but that is just not the case. Last but not least, the ever-growing food insecurity is appalling. Regrettably, the first to feel the scarcity of goods are African nations.

COVID-19 has exacerbated an already low food supply chain, the west is not at liberty to distribute food as it is also experiencing a drought. Naturally, people being out of work reduces their capacity to take care of essential needs. In some parts of West Africa if one does not work that day then they won’t eat that day, it is a sad reality. To conclude, as a society and the International Community, we must weigh the pros and cons of staying in lockdown. The situation at hand is looking more and more devastating, a prolonged shutdown will have irreversible effects for years to come.

Fatoumata Bah
Fatoumata Bah, © 2020

The author has 6 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: FatoumataBah

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