Sunday, April 14, 2024

EDITORIAL: Speak up against domestic abuse

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THIS HAS BEEN A YEAR when many causes have been highlighted in Barbados, such as cancer awareness and mental health. They are all deserving of national attention. But few carry the pain and shame of violence against women, which impacts our mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, wives, girlfriends, colleagues and friends. It is one of the terrible human rights violations that plague modern society.

In Barbados, despite the outcry, this outrageous behaviour still continues, even though the entire society knows that it is just simply wrong.

The police statistics and the court appearances tell a story, even if the figures look much better this year than they were a year ago. Unfortunately, it is not the type of unwarranted action and warped attitude which legislation can change; but can and must be prevented.

On Friday, the observation of the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence will begin with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and ends on December 10, Human Rights Day. We must not dismiss this event as irrelevant because it may not impact us directly, or downplay it given the many other issues affecting our lives daily – from high prices to job insecurity.

It is an occasion to set aside a little time to discuss this problem of abuse of women, which is as important as any of the bread and butter concerns. There must be no conspiracy of silence on this issue.

A very practical approach to the problem is needed in Barbados. One obvious one is to have a number of safe houses for battered women. But this will call for funding to which Barbadians should donate willingly during the special period of activism. Talk alone means nothing for a woman seeking to avoid any kind of abuse. Still, it would be good if men and women who are opinion leaders speak out against all the cruel types of violence hurled against women.

While we think of violence as primarily the brutal blows some must bear, it also includes abuse in many other forms, as in the open and vile attacks on the characters of women who dare take a stand and speak out against injustices. Unfortunately, there is that exuberance of pulling down and destroying too many women rather than building up and celebrating them. Our political parties, which should be change agents in this regard, often set a bad example. The new technology, especially the widespread use and embrace of social media, can make the abuse worse, especially when based on untruths.

Violence must not hinder our women from exercising their human rights in a changing society. This is a cause behind which we should all unite. So we need to start a conversation today on achieving meaningful resolution to this scourge of violence against women in Barbados. It is achievable.

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