What is the place of a manic-depressive lady who has just delivered twins after been continuously raped?9:20:00 AM
|With Rachel Shebesh, Mrs Kidero and Wangeci of Nairobi Women's|
I know that is an uber long title for a blog post but that was the question I asked myself a few days ago when Nairobi Women Representative, Rachel Shebesh called me and asked me to meet her and Mrs Kidero, wife to Nairobi Governor, at Nairobi Women’s Hospital, Adams to visit a lady who had just delivered twins. The lady, who is manic-depressive, better known to many as bipolar, had been taken to the hospital by hawkers from Kagemi when they saw she was due. Her story is in many versions and investigations are still ongoing at the hospital to get the clear picture. According to Rose, the amazing Samaritan who took her to the hospital, the lady was evidently mentally disturbed and slept outside a hotel in Kagemi shopping centre and at night men lined up to sleep with her, ok sleep with her is not the word, the word is SEXUALLY ABUSE HER!!!
What happened to community spirit?
My heart sank as Rose narrated this and goose bumps covered my body. I had a million questions as tears balanced on my eyes; where was her family? What happened to community spirit? Why would men in their ‘right mind’ take advantage of this lady to a point of lining up? Where were the authorities when all this was happening? If this lady wasn’t homeless due to neglect by her family, as I later learned, because of her mental health status would she have been continuously raped and life go on for those around her?
If there is a story that highlighted STIGMA it has to be this one. Where persons with mental health disorders are not seen as people, there do not register as humans in people’s books but as objects, in this case, objects of pleasure, in other cases, objects of ridicule, objects people can practice their animal instinct on, objects that need shelter, objects that deserve to roam the streets and we all know of these ‘objects’, we see them in our neighborhoods, we pass them on our way to work in our fancy cars, feel like we are doing them a favor by splashing water on them. Days later, I still can’t wrap my head around men supposedly in their right minds would line up, day in day out…I still can’t wrap my head around how as a society we know that at night, this happens so all we can do is make sure we are home in good time, see no evil, do no evil, be part of no evil.
As I was digesting all this and how Rose and fellow hawkers did a ‘harambee’ to raise Ksh 1000 to get her to Nairobi Women’s Hospital, I wouldn’t help and think about the link between gender based violence and mental health. I thanked heavens for the centre but couldn’t help but wonder what if this lady was in Garissa, or Moyale? Very far from the GBV Centre? How much more would Rose and her friends have to cough? I reflected at my own life and depression I sank into when I got raped, the self stigma, the daily torture, the list is endless…and here was a lady who was once married with two kids, neglected by husband and family because of her mental health, rendered homeless, sleeping on the streets, raped continuously and wait for it, there are no shelters in this our beautiful country that can cater for her mental health, rape and twins (if you know of any, kindly hit me up asap, we are on the lookout)…so again I asked myself; What is the place of a manic-depressive lady who has just delivered twins after been continuously raped?
Here are my suggestions, feel free to add yours;
1. Collaborative Efforts
I was honored by Shebesh’s call and the need for collaborative effort between all sectors; security forces, community, county and National leaders, mama mbogas like Rose and her crew, hospitals and you and I. Mental Health is not an individual things, it is a community initiative (Remember how you all helped Conjestina?), it is my responsibility, it is your responsibility, it is the government responsibility. There is need for structures to take care of women who have been raped and have mental health disorders. I was excited to hear Mrs.Kidero say that the governor had talked about reviving around 60 or so health centre in Nairobi. We need those services down to the people, we need mental health services that are AFFORDABLE, ACCESSIBLE & ACCEPTABLE…remember my post on who to elect? This is where the rubber hits the road. I would like to see a centre that caters for ladies with little babies that they do not want to be separated from where they can get mental health care and rape care…someone host this conversation.
2. Mental Health is no respecter of persons, age, social setting
Another amazing thing that happened that afternoon, Hon Shebesh publicly shared that she has bipolar. (Unfortunately NTV didn’t air that part, they showed street women instead – they had missed the point and connection between mental health, the lady being on the street and rape…trying very hard not think about it as a form of stigma but more of a challenge to keep drumming the seriousness of mental health discussions)
We need more people in positions of power and authority to help destigmatize mental health. Shebesh candidly talked about her manic and depressive days and I couldn’t have been more proud. Here was Nairobi’s Women Representative setting the tone for discussion…showing that the lady was not an exception, that it was not something she did or said but mental health does not discriminate…I get many emails from people who according to those of you on twitter call influencers, most people have depression among other mental health disorders, the number is 1 in every 4…do the math.
3. Awareness creation
Mental health disorders are not curses, no you didn’t do anything to God and no, no one looked at you with an evil eye. Mental health disorders are manageable…persons with mental health disorders are the most artistic, creative, intelligent and the list goes on.
If you are an employer, take time to have your employees aware of mental health and how it affects them and what measures you have as an organization if one of them got diagnosed. Many of you have zombies working for, many of you have fired people and later had they committed suicide, BOSS, get yourself schooled.
4. Mental Health Bill
Just as Kenya needed a new Constitution, we need a mental health bill like yesterday. Last year we got a first reading, this year we need it passed. There are many traumatic incidences in Kenya from the current floods, the Tana Delta killings, incidences we are quick to brush like the PEV, Sinai Fire and the list goes on. There is need for a National Body to take care of the psychological impact of these events. Hon Shebesh assured her support in making sure we have this Bill, does your elected representative know about this Bill? Do they know it impact to you? In mental health work, we know that each and everyone is on their way to getting a mental health disorder, they just haven’t met their trigger, how sure are you unlike the lady at Nairobi Women’s, the security of your husband and family will hold firm? That the community you will find refuge in will hold water and not allow you to get raped continuously?
Mental Health is a collaborative effort, school yourself by reading posts under my mental health campaign tab and sharing with others, questions the structures around you on their standing on mental health for there is not health (physical or social) without mental health, demand for devolved mental health services in your local health centres complete with doctors and medicine…you never know, you just never know…let us not ask this again; What is the place of a manic-depressive lady who has just delivered twins after been continuously raped?