Sunday, April 14, 2024

OUR CARIBBEAN: Arresting trauma of rising domestic violence and rape


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Without questioning the honesty of Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite’s assurance to “fast track” the enactment of legislation to deal with the rising incidence of domestic violence against women, I regret having to distressingly note that I have heard such an official assurance far too often in this and other jurisdictions of the Caribbean Community.
I am, therefore, left to wonder whether had it not been for the latest spirited intervention by Marilyn Rice-Bowen, president of the National Organization of  Women (NOW), the assurance and brief update provided by the Attorney General in Wednesday’s Daily Nation would have been voluntarily forthcoming.           
The painful truth is that from Jamaica in the northern sub-region to Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname in the south, and across the eastern Caribbean, too many women, among them old and young mothers, are victims of degrading violence, some dying in the presence of helpless children and other family members.
Then, as part of routine media reports, we receive police accounts of the circumstances, at times while the body of the victims of criminal domestic violence are being taken to a hospital morgue or funeral home.
Even more distressing, to judge from recent media reports in Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago with which I am familiar, some of the mothers, as well as teenage and even younger children killed in cases relating to domestic violence, could well have been avoidedco had the police been more vigilant and committed in fulfilling their official duties, consistent with the oath they solemnly take.
It is also of relevance to note, unpleasant as it is to report, that since some ranks of the region’s police services themselves engage in domestic violence, against both unemployed and breadwinning wives and mothers and also against their teenage and younger children, it could be quite challenging for such cops to move with required efficiency and integrity to deal, as professionally required, with recurring cases of domestic brutalities.
For the so-called “doubting Thomases” – in and out of police services – about such unprofessional behaviour by those sworn to uphold the law, questions could be directed to women cabinet ministers in CARICOM, with responsibilities for “women’s affairs” and social services. I do not know what kind of creative thinking or cooperation, if any, occurs among heads of local police services who belong to the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police (ACCP).
Nevertheless, if it’s not now a requirement, there should be an immediate written report made available to a specially assigned police officer dealing with criminal domestic violence – as well as the current epidemic of rape against women and children – on the day of such investigations, including time of reports made and actions taken. 
So far as enactment of legislation to deal with domestic violence is concerned, the head of every government should give priority to ensuring that his/her respective Attorney General is indeed being as proactive as possible to have ready for parliamentary approval enlightened legislation to deal effectively  with the degrading crimes of rape and violence currently causing such daily trauma for far too many families across the Caribbean Community.
• Rickey Singh is a noted Caribbean journalist.


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