March 13, 2009
Domestic violence still a major worry in SVG

Women are being urged to follow through on domestic violence cases and not to be coerced into dropping cases based on the promises of change made by their abusers.{{more}}

Speaking to SEARCHLIGHT in recognition of International Woman’s Day, which was observed last Sunday, March 8th, Commissioner of Police Keith Miller said that it is common for women to change their minds in assault cases when they reconcile with their partners.

Miller said that many times, the very serious cases of domestic violence, which lead to serious injury or death, could have been avoided if the problem had been dealt with in the early stages of threats and minor acts of violence.

“A lot of women don’t come forward to make reports unless they get seriously injured,” he lamented.

The top cop said that the police are not advocating that families break-up at the first sign of trouble or disturbance; however abusive partners must be taken seriously as the situation may get worse.

“It is really hard to live a life of torture, stress and abuse. A man is belittling himself to beat up on a woman,” Miller said.

“Sometimes you see a clear pattern: brutal abuse, where women come with chops, cuts and bruises. Yet even in these cases, sometimes they don’t follow through,” he added.

The COP told SEARCHLIGHT that police officers have been receiving specialized training in dealing with cases of rape and domestic violence so that these sensitive issues can be handled appropriately when reports are made.

Meanwhile, the head of the Gender Affairs Division is calling on the police to further assist in the fight against domestic violence by making special note of the cases of assault which are domestic in nature.

According to Oliver, there is already an example in Belize of how this type of system works.

She said that if this distinction is made in record keeping, her department would be better equipped, when assessing the statistics, to see if domestic violence cases are concentrated in any particular area.

She said that such recording will assist in formulating and attracting funding for programmes to tackle the problem.

“We will have a better understanding of how many cases of domestic violence have been reported and have a better idea of the extent of the problem,” she said.

She however agreed with the COP’s view that most instances of abuse go unreported. (KJ)