I love every single Instagram post which instructs me to kill time by curling up with a good book after having lit a mood-enhancing scented candle for maximum hygge. I soak up every heavily filtered photo of a long-limbed influencer splayed on an animal hide (cow/sheep/zebra) in their perfectly curated home, pondering which sheet mask she shall try on next while attending a web-based calmness class.
May I also add, by way of a disclaimer, that I count myself as one of the above people as far as problems go (except that I am not exactly an influencer and my limbs are rather on the short side). I have a life crisis if a particular type of Japanese green tea is out of stock or, as is the case now, the shop that sells my favourite brand of candles is shut until post-apocalypse. My home is my safe haven.
For many people, especially women and children, this is not the case.
I spoke with someone who works at the Finnish national authority for organising safe houses earlier today. They are preparing for a massive, long-term shitshow, which I am sure is going to be the case everywhere in the world, as governments are apparently looking into keeping the current, exceptional measures for the next couple of months at least.
Already understaffed and grossly underfunded national systems offering life-saving ad hoc shelter for victims of domestic violence cannot deal with the upcoming scenario of families being holed up together for months 24/7. Take Finland, or Estonia, for that matter, where alcohol is drunk in large quantities as soon as the tiniest excuse presents itself. And what’s a better excuse than not having to show up at work in the morning – for weeks!
We are looking at a quick escalation of multitude of problems, including, but not limited to the following:
- There are many parents who are in no position to home-school anyone.
- School lunch for many kids is the only square meal they get on weekdays.
- Going to school for a day for many kids is the only place to escape a violent home.
- Victims of domestic violence in many places have nowhere to go, because there is either no capacity left and/or the current restrictions do not allow for gathering of people.
- Alcohol is still freely available all over the place and, unlike toilet paper, seems to be plenty in stock.
- Neighbours can interfere even less than usual because of social distancing. Same with relatives.
If you feel like you are in a position to help, there is something you can do without human contact or expertise in social work:
Google your national network of shelters – many have Facebook pages where they announce fundraisers and such. There will likely be ongoing collective efforts to organise food for underprivileged children, for example.
Some networks will amp up their online chat-facilities for domestic violence victims.
All this costs money, which currently is less available than usual – because everybody needs it now, and because of the economy.
While you might not be in a position to directly help people with their problems, donating money to organisations who train professionals and volunteers to help is very important, if your financial situation allows for it.
Because you are from everywhere these days (and I thank you for that!), I will not include direct links below. But if you feel that sharing this post on social media would help create a useful chain reaction, may I ask you to add a link to your national network of Save the Children/shelters for victims of domestic violence/etc in the message part, so that people who read it will know immediately where to go for more information?
Our sisters (nurses, teachers, care workers) are already carrying a huge part of this crisis on their (underpaid) shoulders. Exceptional situations always hit the most vulnerable and those without public platforms (women, children) the hardest.
Do what you can. It helps with the Weltschmerz. Make it your feminist act of the year.
Feminism is not about the privileged few having the individual choice to do whatever they want if they really want to, because of the equality of opportunity.
Feminism isn’t about wishes. It’s about actions. Doing nothing is doing something: it’s supporting the current injustices. Doing nothing and saying nothing is tacit support.
Photo credit: Internet. Honestly, it’s making the rounds all over the place at the moment, but I have no idea who owns it. Apologies.