Protect our vulnerable family members!

I begin this article by sincerely wishing all Barbadians a healthy and successful 2017. Many prominent Barbadians have expressed New Year resolutions and well wishes for Barbadians in the New Year.

However, my hope is for Barbadian families to strive, function, work and live in healthy environments in every segment of their lives. On this note, I write this article from four perspectives; as a concerned Barbadian, a former nurse, a forensic psychologist, and a student of law.

Firstly, I must commend the Government of Barbados for diligently working on enacting the sexual harassment legislation. This will definitely protect women in the workplace.  I welcome the enactment of this legislation because women would have an opportunity for redress in the event of any kind of unwanted sexual behaviour.

Over the years, sexual harassment has been a major problem in many working environments in Barbados. It came with many psychological ramifications for women such as sadness, discomfort, unhappiness and stress.  After an unwanted sexual advancement from the boss or other work colleagues, it changed the relation between the two parties.

It created mistrust between and among employees and it also led to a difficult working environment, absenteeism, low productivity, and victimization. Why should females be subjected to this types of treatment? Each female has the right to work in any working environment without any form of sexual harassment.

Secondly, the Government has promised to enact new legislation regarding the abuse of the elderly in health care institutions and within their homes during this New Year. This legislation is greatly needed to protect the elderly and to give family members a platform for redress in the event of abuse.

When family members place their loved ones in health care institutions, nursing staff and personnel have a duty of care to these individuals. At no time, no form of abuse should be meted out to the elderly.

The decision to place a relative in any health care institution is a difficult one to make for most families. While relatives are there, families expect a high level of care and responsibility from health care professionals. In order for any health care institution to ensure that a high level of care is maintained, they must vet workers and conduct continuous assessments of their performance.

I cannot end this article without mentioning the importance of registering sex offenders in Barbados. Child sexual abuse continues to be a major problem and it is destroying the lives of children in Barbados.  My colleague of law from Grenada said to me that if we were to register sex offenders in Barbados, “a lot of prominent people would be on the list.”

While this is likely to be true, we must not continue to protect these perpetrators, but forget to think about the social, physical and psychological development of our children who will become future leaders of our sweet Barbados. Why should they suffer in silence or be forced or coerced into unwanted sexual behaviours at an early stage of their development? The sexual experience should be shared with the person of their choice. I look forward to all these new interventions in 2017.

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