Not just another murder

The latest murder in the area of “domestic abuse” cannot be taken as just “another murder”.

I feel compelled to state my disappointment with respect to the handling of this matter by the police. For too long women in Barbados have been victims of domestic abuse without swift action being taken against the abusers by the police.

I was torn to pieces last Wednesday night after hearing the news of yet another case of this sinful and dastardly act by a coward, yes coward, who seemed to believe that he had the God-given right to take a woman’s life.

The women’s organisations in this country often talk a lot, distribute literature and in some cases have sessions relating to domestic abuse. However, where are they when situations like this occur? Where is the help when victims have to go to hospital, to private clinic/doctors? Nowhere to be found.

It is my belief that there needs to be a system that gives these treatment centres the right to contact the police and inform them of the abuse and of the perpetrator.

Whilst not being a legal practitioner, there seems to be this dubious law or understanding that the police cannot take action against an abuser without a medical report, even when a battered and bruised victim presents herself at the police station, is hospitalised or is seen lying on the floor in the home.

What more evidence is required before action is taken, a post mortem certificate or a death certificate, as will now happen in this case. As stated, I am not a legal practitioner, but what happened to charges such as wounding, wounding with intent, intent to murder, grievous bodily harm etc?

Can none of these be brought before a medical certificate is presented to the police and before there is need for a charge of murder or manslaughter?

Is it that the laws are archaic? Is it that the police need training in these matters? Whatever happened to your motto “To protect and serve”? Who is protecting and serving whom?

There seems always to be this lack of response from the local constabulary. When do they intervene and do so with haste? When? When there is a death? You only have to mention that word and this “force” (Royal Barbados Police Force) referred to as not special will come with sirens blazing.

Domestic abuse does not just affect people of a certain race, age, gender or background, it knows no ethnic, cultural or personal borders. We tend to think of domestic abuse as physical violence or assault on a partner but in reality it is the summary of physical, sexual and psychological abuse behaviours directed by one partner regardless of their marital status or gender.

Generally, when one type of abuse exists, it is coupled with other forms as well. Domestic abuse is better understood more by its effect on the victim than by the specific actions of the abuser.

The public’s immediate reaction in these situations is always one of cries for swift action or for the powers that be to find some kind of remedy.

There is a lot of talk and all types of printed material that I consider irrelevant when tragedies of this nature occur. What good does it do for the victim’s families, for the other victims who might suffer the same fate or are constantly being abused?

This is unacceptable and there must be some procedural policy put in place by law (if it does not already exist) for dealing with such cases so as to prevent any more murders from domestic abuse. Abuse in any home is not a rare problem, it is just rarely admitted as one. Abuse is not a one-off incident.

It is my firm belief that the police force was negligent in the way this case was handled as it was clear that hers was a potentially life threatening situation. Had they responded from the day of the report, perhaps that mother, sister, aunt, friend could be alive today.

One more domestic abuse case, is one too many. The question is: Who beside the perpetrator will have to answer for this tragedy?

I would like to take this opportunity to extend my since condolences to the family of the victim. We may say she’s in a better place, but where is the perpetrator? Eating, drinking and sleeping at my expense. I pray that something, someone, somewhere will give this matter their most urgent attention.

Her dehumanising horrific murder (or any of similar cause) must not be tolerated in this country. I hope I speak for all those women who are suffering any form of abuse. This is time for action, no more long talk and paper.

— Ingrid Beckles

2 Responses to Not just another murder

  1. kerry May 9, 2013 at 9:35 am

    I could write a book about this kind of thing. I had the misfortune of having to go through a situation like this and let me tell you, Barbados is only for those who have money or a great support system.

  2. Trici May 10, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    I agree with most of this article. That statement about women’s organisations, however, is shockingly unfair. Women’s organisations have taken many a victim to the hospital and clinics and provided them life-saving shelter. There are countless cases like this that do not make the paper because these same women’s organisations have rescued the victim and taken her to safety. But women’s organisations cannot read minds. If they are not aware of the situation because they have not been told, how can they intervene?
    Women’s organisations can only also operate within the existing law. If the proper legislation is not in place, what are they supposed to do?
    Also, why is the onus always on women’s organisations? Domestic abuse is everyone’s business. Why must it be just the role of women’s organisations to intervene? Women are not beating and raping themselves! Perpetrators are overwhelmingly male. Yet we demand that the victims speak out while the perpetrators are allowed to remain silent. Nonsense!


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