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February 17, 2019

The law and your favourite tipple

A Police officer displays some of the fake and dangerous chemicals that are used to make illicit brew. Photo Elkana Jacob
A Police officer displays some of the fake and dangerous chemicals that are used to make illicit brew. Photo Elkana Jacob

What begins as a nice sip of that substance known as alcohol can very easily ruin your marriage once addiction sets in. Addiction to alcohol no doubt has a negative impact on the family. The picture gets worse if the addiction is to a drink that is not fit for human consumption.

Of late we have seen or learnt of names and brands of what some Kenyans have been imbibing in various watering holes. I am still in shock at the quality and ingredients — or is it paraphernalia — used in some of the so-called alcoholic beverages. The quantities that have been destroyed since the crackdown occasioned by a presidential directive is astounding.

Drinking is not illegal in Kenya. Many companies have been licensed to manufacture beer in the country.

The crime lies in the preparation, storage, distribution and or consumption of illicit drinks. This has a host of negative results. The consumption of the illicit drink saw the President intervene in a bid to bring to an end the evil that is meted out on the family and the nation as a whole.

The most unfortunate thing is that majority of Kenyans who are addicted to the illicit brew are the youth. These are the most productive members of the family and the country. A spouse who leaves the house very early in the morning to go and drink becomes a burden not only to himself but also to the family.

A spouse who only sees the drunken spouse crawling home in the evening after a whole day of drinking is a victim of domestic violence. The drunkard suffers from loss of dignity and exposes the sober spouse to stigma and ridicule in the home.

The problems are also transferred to the matrimonial bed. The drunkard for obvious reasons cannot perform his/her matrimonial obligations at home. The sober spouse cannot enjoy their conjugal rights since the illicit drink incapacitates the addict sexually. It becomes a cycle where the other spouse is left with little or no rights under Article 45 of the constitution. Talk of a blank shell in the family.

It’s not a wonder that of late we have witnessed what some have called the removal of ‘transformers’ of drunken men.

The addiction has a negative impact on the future of the drunkard’s family. The reproductive health rights as guaranteed under Article 43 of the constitution has become a pipedream for many families. I believe that we were going to end up in a state of no children at some point in the future had the President not cracked the whip.

I was shocked to learn that in some places there are more drinking dens than schools. Children who live in homes where alcohol is pervasive are exposed to the side effects of the vice. They pick up poor habits from the drunkard. The parents who drink this way end up offending the children’s rights.

The Children’s Act provides that parents should not expose children to this kind of extreme conduct. The parents are at all times under a duty to ensure that the developmental and spiritual needs of the children are met. The best interest of the children has to be upheld at all times. Parents are under a duty to protect and care for the children at all times under Article 53 of the constitution. How can a drunk and disorderly parent guide and protect a child?

Many of the children of these drunkards do not complete school. Their right to education as guaranteed by Article 43 of the constitution is always threatened. The drunkard drinks all the money and cannot afford school fees. Many end up in conflict with the law.

The addicts are now on their way to rehab centres. I understand that Nacada will spend over Sh16 million on rehab centres. How unfortunate. These drunkards will be pulled out of their homes away from their spouses, children and family under Article 45 of the constitution. This will have an impact on the family.

In the process of the selfish drinking, these family members end up exposing themselves to a host of self-inflicted health complications and risk. They don’t have appetite for food. We have all seen the shocking contents of the drinks not to mention the unhygienic conditions under which the brewing takes place. This ends up burdening the family economically through medical bills. The money could be used to pay fees or buy food.

Rehabilitation is a costly project that the State might embark on to salvage the family. The drunkard is invited to ask himself or herself, whether or not it is fair to cause the government to spend so much money to rehabilitate you out of your lifestyle mess or should the state be spending the money supporting the old and other vulnerable members in society?

As for brewers, manufacturers, dealers and retailers, you are invited to look at your obligations towards the family as a Kenyan under Article 3 and 20 of the constitution. In the Preamble to our constitution, we all made a commitment to nurture the individual, the family, the society and the nation. We must all uphold this commitment as Kenyans. Let’s leave the drink of death behind and build our lovely families and our nation.

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