Nowadays a majority of relationships are based on the wrong things. “And when this dawns on couples, they go to the extreme to rid themselves of what might have turned from an adrenaline filled relationship to a bore,” she says. “At such moments, the simplest of things can spark a partner into doing the unthinkable.”
“Traditional support systems are not there anymore. We have a weakened system of social control. We are growing up without proper grounding and we take this baselessness into relationships,” Dr Halimu Shauri, Associate Professor at the Department of Social Sciences at Pwani University, says. “We are living in a state of social malaise in an environment of chaos. No one even cares to know what the next door neighbour is up to, whether good or bad.”
“Globally, there is evidence that violence against the person is increasing and we have become socialized to accept it as a way of life. We are no longer shocked by cruelty,” psychiatrist Frank Njenga says. “Love and tenderness no longer have space in our lives.” But, he argues, many other things that society never gave prominence to such as money, drugs and cruelty are eating more and more into our lives. These, plus a certain level of naiveté. “We all rush in starry eyed and blinded by emotion. But, at the end of the day, love alone is not enough to sustain a relationship,” psychologist Okello says. He explains that a lot of effort is required for the right tempo of the relationship to be set.
“Families no longer do due diligence on their intended spouses. Historically, communities used to send individuals to the suitors’ community to spy on them. They would gather as much information as possible about the other person. All this will be put in to consideration before the final decision was made,” Okello says. “Nowadays, people are in such a hurry. Some character traits can be spotted quite early in a relationship.” But the present has its own unique challenges that age old interventions might fail to solve.
“There’s too much strain in relationships. People walk into each other’s arms with a hidden list of standards and expectations. Some get married because age has caught up. Others for that ever elusive financial stability, and when the money goes, the true character comes to the fore,” Dr Shauri says. Ms Okello says 80 per cent of those who seek counseling are looking for ways to better their love lives. “And most of them started off on the wrong footing. Unplanned pregnancies, family pressures even blackmail. And when the victim in such a relationship gets fed up, there’s no telling what they will do,”
Okello says. Mental illnesses and drug abuse have also contributed to this increase in crimes of passion. Tit for tat “Very few people know they are suffering from mental illnesses. Depression and stress are eating away at us. And there’s no telling what one can do when he finally crashes and burns,” says Dr Njenga. Law enforcement does not necessarily believe that there is an increase in crimes of passion. “We are just living in different times. Now, women know their rights and can defend themselves. In the past, all these went unnoticed because it was the way of life,” police spokesperson Charles Owino says. Dr Shauri, a sociologist, says the violent outbursts for couples, whether a recent phenomenon or an age-old practice, will not go away soon. “Nowadays people invest a lot of emotion and resources into relationships. When they feel they are short-changed, they look for the most appropriate way, at least according to them, to deal with the offenders. They beat, maim or kill. It becomes an eye for an eye.”