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Coronavirus crashes wedding season in US

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AFP

By AFP
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The flowers had been ordered, the band, the caterer and the venue were booked, and the wedding dress and tuxedo were ready.

But then the Covid-19 pandemic struck, bringing to a screeching halt Kinnon Chapman and Cullom Walker’s plans to tie the knot on April 4, in a scenario repeated for tens of thousands of couples across the United States.

“We’ve learned a very important lesson — that any plans you have, you need to hold them loosely,” Chapman, who lives in Texas, told AFP.

“There are things that are beyond our control and that is a really humbling lesson to learn.”

Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, an estimated 30,000 weddings took place every weekend in the United States. But the pandemic has disrupted the multi-billion-dollar industry and put a damper on the dream nuptials and honeymoons planned by countless couples.

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Many, like Chapman and Walker, have chosen to elope and plan to celebrate with friends and family at a later date. Others are postponing the big day or Zooming their way down the aisle, using the remote video service to share the special moment with their loved ones.

“It’s kind of been an emotional roller coaster,” said Jacqueline Gazette, 30, who planned to marry fiancé Bryan Altenhaus on June 13 in northern California.

After much hand-wringing, the couple decided last week to postpone the wedding until October, in the hope that by then, the lockdowns imposed throughout most of the country will be lifted and life will be back to something resembling normal.

“I’m trying to remain as calm and patient about it as possible but I’ve definitely shed some tears because it is something that you plan for so long,” Gazette, who works for a tech firm in San Francisco, said. “It’s definitely sad and we were looking forward to it but at the end of the day, everyone’s safety and health is more important.”

For some, like Samy Eid and Francesca George, the idea of an elaborate celebration seems inappropriate at this time, given the catastrophic economic impact of the pandemic and the staggering and mounting death toll.

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The Michigan couple was set to wed in August with 400 guests attending and had booked a honeymoon in France. But the two have now scrapped their plans and will hold an intimate ceremony as soon as they receive their wedding license.

“We’re just gonna get married immediately,” said Eid, 39, who co-owns three top restaurants in Michigan with his father. “No pomp and circumstance, we just want to celebrate our love and get our life started.”

For wedding planners, the pandemic has also proven devastating, with many bracing for huge losses and fearing they might be forced to shut down.

“I’ve been doing this full time for 17 years and this has definitely been tough for me as a business owner in the event industry,” said Christina Romero, founder of Signature Event, in northern California.

“Weddings are emotional experiences and the couples are facing the fear of the unknown and not knowing whether vendors will give their money back,” she added.

Romero, whose company also organizes corporate events, said she expects to lose 50 percent of her business this year as a result of the pandemic and has already been forced to lay off more than half of her staff.

And she doesn’t expect to bounce back anytime soon, given the dire economic predictions and the fact that an average wedding in the San Francisco area costs more than $100,000.

“From a wedding perspective, I think it will take a while because people are going to be afraid to spend money once the shelter-in-place order is lifted,” she said.

“For me, I try to put things in perspective,” she added. “At the end of the day, I’m alive, I’m healthy and I have a roof over my head.

“I’m focusing on the necessary steps needed to sustain the business … and then whatever is going to happen will happen. I’m trying really hard to not let my emotions take over because this has been my baby for 17 years.”

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Nigerian stars demand justice for student raped, killed in empty church

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Khafi Kareem [Photo: Courtesy]

Nigerian stars have joined calls for the arrest and prosecution of person(s) behind the rape and killing of a microbiology student, Uwaila Vera Omozuwa, at an empty church in Benin City, southern Nigeria, on Saturday, May 30, 2020.

At the forefront on why the culture of rape in Nigeria should end and perpetrators of such heinous crimes brought  to book, is former Big Brother Naija housemate Khafi Kareem who on June 2, via Twitter, revealed that she was, at some point in her life raped too, and demanded justice for Omozuwa.

Sharing the struggles of victims, Khafi said she confided the harrowing experience to a close associate who blamed her for getting raped.

The reality TV star narrated that the backlash after the harrowing ordeal made her feel guilty and ashamed.

She forgave the rapist, who blamed alcohol for the act, a move she says she does not want repeated and urged victims to speak out and feel no shame in sharing their stories.

“#WhyIDidntReport – because he apologised right after. Because I made myself believe him being drunk was an excuse. Because the one person I did tell said I caused it. Because I felt dirty and ashamed. #WeAreTired,” tweeted the personality.

“Yes, this did happen to me. I’m sharing in the hope that others will feel no shame in sharing what happened to them. Please don’t deflect or say it is not my story when it was already hard enough sharing it.”

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Nigerian stars demand justice for student raped, killed in church

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Khafi Kareem [Photo: Courtesy]

Nigerian stars have joined calls for the arrest and prosecution of persons behind the rape and killing of a microbiology student, Uwaila Vera Omozuwa, at an empty church in Benin City, southern Nigeria, on Saturday, May 30, 2020.

At the forefront on why the culture of rape in Nigeria should end and perpetrators of such heinous crimes brought to book, is former Big Brother Naija housemate Khafi Kareem who on June 2, via Twitter, revealed that she was, at some point in her life raped too, and demanded justice for Omozuwa.

Sharing the struggles of victims, Khafi said she confided the harrowing experience to a close associate who blamed her for getting raped.

The reality TV star narrated that the backlash after the harrowing ordeal made her feel guilty and ashamed.

She forgave the rapist, who blamed alcohol for the act, a move she says she does not want to be repeated and urged victims to speak out and feel no shame in sharing their stories.

“#WhyIDidntReport – because he apologised right after. Because I made myself believe him being drunk was an excuse. Because the one person I did tell said I caused it. Because I felt dirty and ashamed. #WeAreTired,” tweeted the personality.

“Yes, this did happen to me. I’m sharing in the hope that others will feel no shame in sharing what happened to them. Please don’t deflect or say it is not my story when it was already hard enough sharing it.”

Omozuwa, 22, a student at the University of Benin was found in a pool of blood inside the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) by a security guard.

According to RCCG spokesman Olaitan Olubiyi, Omuzuwa was a member of the choir and had since the lockdown sought the quiet of the empty church to study as there is no public library in the area.

“We are all devastated by her death. She decided to do some private studies during the lockdown because the church was peaceful. She’s been taking the key from the parish pastor and returning it after her studies. But that day she didn’t return it and the night guard who resumed duty found her in a pool of her own blood and half-naked in the church hall,” Olubiyi told CNN.

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Her mother, heartbroken, told Town Crier that the violence meted on her daughter was harrowing, “I ran [to the church] but before I got there, they took her to a private hospital and when I saw my daughter, I cried. They raped her; the dress she was wearing that morning was white. The white had turned to red; all her body was full of blood.”

In a statement, General Overseer Enoch Adeboye, the leader to the church billed as one of the largest denominations in Nigeria, condemned the act and saying the church was liaising with police.

“All I can do at this time is to pray for the family of Omozuwa and do everything possible working with relevant authorities to bring the perpetrators to book… I and members of my Family condemn this act strongly and urge everyone to stay calm as we are already looking into the matter and cooperating with the police to establish the facts of the shocking situation… #justiceforuwa,” he said.

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Dude’s Den: Four myths about men that women believe at their own risk

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Dude’s Den: Four myths about men that women believe at their own risk

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