Dr. Fraser- Point of View
February 7, 2020

Is our country’s social fabric being crippled?

ONCE AGAIN, the talking point around the country is about domestic violence and abuse. This time, it has more than ever, enraged the country.

A Cuban-born nurse who has been serving this country for many years is gunned down, allegedly by her husband at the school that her son attends, and at a time, 3.30 p.m. when students were leaving the premises. A day before she was seen paying tribute to Sir Frederick Ballantyne in song as part of the Kingstown Chorale/Cantemus’ contribution. As the circumstances surrounding the death became known and seeped into the consciousness of the people of our country, tempers flared.

Social and traditional media were overwhelmed by expressions of anger. The thought of this happening in front of her son was hard to contemplate and made people even more bitter.

It is alleged that over 28 complaints about threats and abuse were made by the victim to the police.

According to news reports, three were made on the days immediately preceding what Ronnie Daniel described as her “calculated, untimely and savage death”. In the midst of all of this, I see a question being posted suggestively on Facebook, asking if domestic violence/abuse is a government/party issue. At a time when persons are demanding that measures be put in place to stem this alarming growth of violence and abuse, the question is absurd. While all of us have some responsibility in dealing with the issue, who has the authority and power to put measures in place? Who is charged with the security of the nation and its people? It is important that our political directorate see this as a serious issue and that they create the atmosphere and send out signals of zero tolerance that will give confidence to the people and stimulate them to do their part.

The Minister of National Security in Bermuda has put out a news release, carried by St. Lucia News Online informing of zero crime related deaths in 2019 and a decrease in violence. He has put it down to their “singular focus on implementing programmes to reduce gang violence and anti-social behaviour, as well as the dedicated efforts of the Gang Violence Reduction team who continues to make positive influences with our at-risk population”. He saw it as testament to the hard work of all

involved, particularly the Bermuda Police Service.

A letter to the Commissioner of Police by Ronnie Daniel sums up the sentiments of many people. He drew attention to the many complaints made and to their inaction. He noted that despite the complaints the alleged perpetrator still retained his firearm license and suggested that nothing could compensate for the loss – no transfer, fancy talk or suspension and reminded him that action or inaction by the police is a matter of life or death.

There are two aspects to the issue; one an immediate response with efforts to put a stranglehold on domestic violence and abuse and violence generally. There must also be a longer-term approach that targets youths at the schools, the church, organisations to which they belong, and wherever they frequent. Violence and domestic and sexual abuse are eating away the social fabric of our society. We have to consider that many of the perpetrators are young people, which of course, sends its own message and signals the danger that lies ahead. We are approaching a crisis in these areas, including, of course rape. Tackling these have to be given top priority. They will not by themselves disappear.

Are there lessons to be learned from Bermuda?

What are the agencies we have in place to fight this scourge? Certainly, their presence is not being felt.

What is happening with the Christian Coalition?

Does its social activism start and end with fighting homosexuality?

● Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian