A strong word of warning has been issued to Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite that the recently approved Domestic Violence (Protection Orders) Act may actually do more harm than good.

President of the Winston Scott Men’s Health Group Wayne Greaves asked why should a man be made to leave his home.
President of the Winston Scott Men’s Health Group Wayne Greaves asked why should a man be made to leave his home.

It came during a very robust meeting of the Men’s Educational Support Association (MESA) last night at St Michael’s School.

Contending that men were also victims of domestic violence, MESA member Henderson Clarke told the large gathering that the judicial system in Barbados had not only failed men, but was “a recipe for murders”.

“When you going to come and remove a man from his home, lock him up. Then when he go back home the woman repeating the same thing . . . it is frustrating,” Clarke told the meeting.

Relating a personal incident, he said he was not only put out of his own home by police, but harassed and made to spend time in prison for something for which he contended he was “falsely accused”.

“I went in front of the magistrate. From the time I went in front of him, I didn’t have a chance to state my case, he told me, ‘Sir, I’m going to remand you’. I asked him,‘For what?’ [and] they told me not to talk,” he recalled.

However, given that his complaints were about an ongoing legal issue, Brathwaite invited him for a one-on-one talk “off camera” following the meeting.

In response, MESA Chairman Grantley Osborne told the Attorney General, “a lot of men want to talk to you off camera who had a lot of unfair things done to them”.

Based on what he had been told by other men, Osborne also warned that the new domestic violance legislation “is going to cause more violence”, while advising the Government’s chief legal advisor: “Don’t bury your head as an ostrich in the sand.”

Under the amended statute, which was approved by Parliament earlier this month, a junior police officer may issue an emergency protection order if he or she has reason to believe that such an order is necessary to ensure the safety of a person at risk. Low-ranking officers may also issue emergency protection orders without the consent of the persons at risk.

Among the other powers handed to the Royal Barbados Police Force is the authority to enter any premises without a warrant if an officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that an emergency protection order, an interim protection order or a final protection order is being breached. Officers have also been given the power to enter premises –– upon the invitation of a person resident there or independently –– if there is reasonable grounds to suspect that a person on the premises has suffered, or is in imminent danger of suffering, physical injury at the hands of some other person.

However, participating in last night’s meeting, MESA member Keith Weekes said, “It seems to me that there is a gender problem when it comes to the men who seem to be targeted”.

MESA member Keith Weekes is concerned that men are being targeted.
MESA member Keith Weekes is concerned that men are being targeted.

Chairman of the session Sean Peters read a text message from another member of the men’s support group, who pointed out that even though one section of the Act speaks to the need for couples to undergo therapy, another section only mandated therapy for men, which he felt was discriminatory.

“Once it is a male perpetrator, the court orders him to go. The other person don’t get ordered,” Peters said.

During the meeting, President of the Winston Scott Men’s Health Group Wayne Greaves also questioned the need for police to order a man to leave his home following a domestic dispute in which there was no assault.

However, Brathwaite pointed out that in the majority of domestic abuse cases, males were the aggressors.

“I don’t get involved in practical policing, but it depends on the circumstances etc. Usually you want a bit of a cooling off period . . . but if the person is charged, I know where they going sleep,” Brathwaite added.

A very angry MESA member related a story of a woman who he said took his money and refused to repay him. To add to his injury, he said he lost a subsequent court case on the matter.

However, based on an open threat, Brathwaite asked: “Does the police wait until he fulfills [it]?”

Retired schoolteacher Anthony Walrond argued that women perpetuate domestic violence from early on in relationships, “and it mounts up til it becomes domestic abuse”.

He also suggested that denying a father visiting rights with his children was emotional abuse.

“Does child custody contribute to domestic violence?” he asked of the Attorney General.

Responding to that question Brathwaite told his former French teacher, “You have not read the Act”, and promised to provide him with a copy.

Despite other claims made during the meeting that “men don’t have a chance in this society”; that they were being “unfaired” and that there was a history of police laughing at men who complain about women, the Attorney General was adamant that the current law would remain as is.

However, he strongly advised the MESA members to read the legislation, arguing that all persons were protected.   

The meeting ended with Brathwaite promising to return to the group’s next monthly meeting along with a police representative, who will also field questions from the disaffected men.

4 Responses to Unfair!

  1. jrsmith February 26, 2016 at 6:55 am

    Because there is a law to protect women from the bad immoral behaviour of men , they are running around crying like babies . MESA , should give the Act some time period and allow monitoring, to produce some true figures so the bajan public can be informed as to the benefit of the Act/Law..

    My take bajans need to use the local courts more, to settle most issues instead of behaving like they back in the jungle, taking the law into they own hands, this in itself becomes violent and in many case fatal. Barbados suppose to be a god fearing Christian island well ,but where..

  2. srsmith February 26, 2016 at 9:12 am

    jrsmith, I am a little taken aback at your insensitive statement. The membership of MESA is not a group of bad, immoral men. Many of them are victims of serious abuse at the hands of women, and are joined by other men who support them in their quest for a better life. They are seeking to have their side of the story properly dealt with rather than resort to physical violence.
    As a man who has had to intervene in several instances where women were being harmed by male abusers, I am under no illusion about domestic violence. Just be aware that men are also victims and also need to be protected and treated fairly, and that is what they were trying to put across. Don’t be naive.

  3. Bernard Codrington. February 26, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    Have you read the court section of the Dailies recently? The delay in the court system does not lead to timely resolution of problems. Hence the vigilante approach. This trend is dangerous.

  4. Sean St. Clair Fields February 26, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    jrsmith, firstly i am not aware of your gender. Secondly and based on your contribution, it is evident that you are not privy to some of the real issues of discrimination and marginalization that some men have had to endure. You should take note that i do not support physical abuse by any party whether man or woman in a relationship. With that said, i believe that the intent of any Act should be objective and certainly gender neutral. Perhaps you should take the opportunity to peruse the Domestic Violence (Protection Order) Act in its entirety and get a true picture of the conditions and their likely attendant outcomes before asking Barbadians to give the Act some time period to allow for monitoring. My question to you is clear. If the Act in some areas is fundamentally flawed and discriminatory….What happens in the
    mean time?


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