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Domestic violence: Be our sisters’ keepers

Monday, May 7, 2018

Recently there was an overwhelming appreciation for women on the premise of International Women’s Day but immediately following this appreciation was starkly juxtaposed domestic violence against women. It is all well and good to appreciate women but how many of these sentiments are meaningful when we question how much of us are truly our sisters’ keepers?

Obviously, there is an apparent pandemic and pervasive far-reaching problem facing our society which was hidden behind closed doors, avoided in open conversations which can no longer be denied as part of everyday life for some women.

This is evident as we take a look at the number of women being killed by the hands of their male partners between 2010 to present.

In regressing a bit, data for 2010-2015 reflects the murder toll, in relation to domestic violence against women, reaching a high of 73 deaths giving an average of 14 per year.

According to the Powerful Ladies of Trinidad and Tobago (PLOTT) for 2016 these killings rose to 45 for females; in 2017 there was a slight decline. For three months into 2018, there are already 14 women being slaughtered by the hands of either their jilted lover or estranged husbands.

The alarming rate at which these figures are rising indicates that domestic violence has reached unprecedented levels and has become deep rooted and embedded in our structural foundations of interpersonal relationships.

Is it that the societal arrangements by which we must communicate is now threatened by a social structure that is laced with violence and justified by particular cultural orientations?

Or is it that domestic violence is sanctioned under the garbs of cultural practices of men who face egotistical overloads and hold conservative ideas about the social status of women? Would it be safe to say that the psyche of our males is seemingly warped to the extent where they think abnormally when facing rejection and having to make decisions or having to respect women.

While these men are enjoying egotistical overloads, women in domestic violence relationships are experiencing severe socio-psychological scaring.

The repeated humiliation, insults, forced isolation, limitation in social mobility, constant threats of violence and injury and most times, the deprivation of economic resources mentally destabilises them. Without having a clue of the nature and severity of such torture, onlookers pass aspersions that can glaringly surmount to that of an innocent and unwarranted persecution.

The learned helplessness that covets the psyche of women, in domestic violence situations, inhibits these women from extricating themselves out of this morass.

We stand by and pass judgment on victims of domestic violence: “why can’t she just leave,” we go so far as agreeing with Singing Francine calypso “dog does runaway so she can run away too.”

The emotional abuse meted out to these victims can destroy their self-worth result in anxiety and depression characterised by helplessness, loneliness and self-blaming. These mental stressors can lead to a high level of suicide and suicide attempts.

The deeper sense of lonesomeness is submerged with ignorance from societal refrain where nobody sees or hears or knows.

How can we, as citizens created to be our sisters keepers, promote the climate for social passivity which enhances tolerance for domestic violence?

Those who are free need to speak out for those who live in bondage, shame, fear of reprisal and retaliation and who are reluctant to report incidence of domestic violence. We need to treat this phenomena with collective consciousness.

Families, friends and associates must break the silence when they realise that a commotion is taking place so as to minimise social tolerance towards domestic violence.

Medical/health practitioners, must embrace their civic responsibility to carefully screen and identify cases presenting to emergency departments.

Police officers have a duty of care to all citizens who are in dire need of help and protection, of which they are charged to keep and as their motto underpins.

The trivialising of domestic violence reports by police officers need immediate attention from the authorities to ensure that the tragic event that took place in La Brea will not be repeated.

Speaking from a personal experience, the recent gruesome murder of four innocent persons has somersaulted the resident of the small village, leaving this incident etched in their minds for a very long time.

We are aware that the police are not supermen and cannot dwell in the minds of these criminal elements as they commit these acts of violence.

However, we expect that these officers presence to be felt immediately following a report of domestic violence. The urgency attached can possibly save the lives of our sisters.

The consequences of domestic violence gravely outweigh the silence. Speak out. The myriad of behavioural problems stemming from these underlying deviant manifestations deserve zero tolerance. Change is not only possible it is also necessary. So, no excuse for inactions.



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