By R.D. Miller
Early January, I signed up with several Caribbean island’s online news, and within days according to the reports six women were murdered across the region. From Trinidad and Tobago; Jezelle Phillips, Gabriella Dunbarry, and Pollyan Chunlesingh.
From Jamaica, Neville Sinclair’s after she tried to escape a toxic relationship, Shantel in McMaster in a Supermarket by her lover, Suzanne Easy, killed by defense force corporal Doran McKenzie. He later took his life. Sadly, before you complete reading this article, there will be other victims elsewhere in the region.
Given these killings, and previous ones earlier, I began to ask myself; are Caribbean women at an extinction not by shark attacks, a boat accident, or aging; but by the hands of their domestic partners.
Each year, millions of women are emotionally, physically, sexually, or economically abused or killed by someone they know and love; a husband or partner. Their stories are more than politicians arriving at a crime scene, taking a few pictures with a victim, posting it on social media with little or no resources to follow. It does not stop broken bones, third-degree burns, lacerations, disfiguring scar and ultimately death. These issues should be a galvanizing moment to change course.
This trend seems to be on a trajectory like some ethnic, cultural, and religious cleansing from geopolitical conflicts where perpetrators normally target the vulnerability of women that include rape and exploitation, and murder if they do not comply with orders.
Throughout many Caribbean islands, domestic violence remains a taboo. It has a long history of woven intolerable male chauvinistic (macho) status. From street harassment and how these women are seen, unwanted advances; few will admit that there is a problem. Victims frequently remain in the shadow from being revictimized, humiliated, feeling guilty, and little support even for the perpetrators.
Acknowledging this problem is important, such as the perpetrators taking responsibility, to be rehabilitated. The victim story sometimes is politicized, deflected or simply little condemnation to not disturb the tourist ships from docking, and keeping hotels at capacity.
Accusing the victim is minimization; that men kill from mistrust, poor judgment, and she should stop talking back, and how much they spent on her is failing to recognize that this is an epidemic intertwined in a philosophy adopted from generations who have witnessed these behaviors. Furthermore, she should run, but where is she going to hide with a system that has holes, and a light saying come get me. It is always what she must have done, and not what should have happened.
More than three million children witness domestic violence in their homes every year. Some grew up believing that it is okay because moms stayed; lack of effective responses; more accountability by law enforcement and judiciary; coupled with poor training by responders to handle these cases, and resources for victims.
This uptick in violence against women’s critical examination as to the root cause supported by policies to offer more protection for women. Despite laws and women’s rights dated back to the 1950’s in places such as The Bahamas, and other islands out of the women’s suffrage movements led by Dr Doris Johnson. However, these laws seem only on paper.
More dialog is important and not just when one is murdered. The idea of what happened at home stays at home cannot be solved with a call to dear pastor, or few likes on social media while perpetrators seldom held accountable.
Poverty, inequality, and polarization make resources difficult to suitable comprehensive family counseling, or personal and victim services such as shelters, throughout many Latin American and Caribbean communities according to the experts. Group intervention tends to stay in the shadow, lacks proper staffing, often closed shortly afterward, and offenders often need the cooperation of law enforcement to make sure they attend treatment programs.
Children who live in homes where there is domestic violence also suffer abuse or neglect at a higher rate. This violence creates a pattern of psychological and overcoming this traumatic experience has long-term critical consequences.
One woman is killed by a spouse, ex-spouse, or some dating partner every 14 hours. And every 20 minutes an intimate partner abuse someone. Domestic violence accounted for about 19 percent of the total burden of healthcare for women age 15-44 according to experts on domestic violence.
Victims continue to use the health care system more than others do, and for several years after. On average; less than ten percent of men are killed by their female partners, while over 80 percent of females are killed by males.
Numerous leaders seem to have selective amnesia to this issue and criminal violence from robberies to ongoing missing children caught up in the complexity between policing, politics, and the community; a revolving door that seems to be doing the same thing and expecting different results.
Consequently, I began to hypothesize given the Chinese influence on these shores, should the Chinese take-over, high crime islands to save women from domestic violence killings, and other criminal cases?
Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus, China stabilized over 60 million in one weakened to quarantined this virus according to reports. What if law enforcement took the same approach to protect women against violence and other risk factors that often escalated into violence?
This approach is delicate surrounding these nations’ politics and the constitution is considered. China dutifully has its own human rights issues as scholars have noted, but perhaps importing attitude and values as it seems everything else has already been imported may work fine.
These island does not have significant barriers interwove to cultural tradition, so forcing the island to learn Mandarin as it has done the Uyghurs, an ethnic minority, should not be a problem.
The social impact will be enormous where a communist totalitarian system may have to split these communities into half to justify penalization. This practice according to scholars “who are their friends, and all the enemies.” If this were to happen, criminals will face restriction of movements, and that alone is what many victims face in these toxic relationships.
There is a struggle especially in the higher crime islands to differentiate ideology from policies to combat this malevolent that is getting worse. Maybe, this intrusion may upgrade technology and training. Even if it decreases the number of children who have gone missing and later found dead as it rises each day on these shores.
Most importantly, develop better assessments and interventions on psychosexual behavior, mental health, and substance abuse. Often social media only focus on dense areas of crimes while rural area went unnoticed.
Notwithstanding my far-fetch idea, violence against women continues to mask in the shadows in these communities. These victims need your support, and an action plan, after she finds the courage to come forward.
Each year from reggae fests, Soca and Carnivals took over these nations, but beneath the costumes, and rhythms; one love vibes, someone is hurting from irrational decisions by perpetrators, and maybe these events should be placed on hold to highlight this epidemic.
Rape, unwanted sexual advance, assault, and even pedophiliac actions should no longer be an option to speak up against in tweets or a quick video. The educational system needs to focus more on young males, teaching them to respect women, no-means no and consequences of unwanted touching.
The ongoing up-ward socio-economic mobility of women seems to have become a threat to some males because, she is now independent, confident, more educated, and that threatens old thinking where gender role is defined that she was better suited or relegated to the kitchen.
Speaking about domestic violence, build confidence for the next generation awareness. It can no longer be blamed on culture, where the objectification of women remains normal.
I hope more victims will receive extra support from other women, and Organizations when they come-forward without fear of the economic impact. Violence against women must stay a priority because this issue will not stop through the world as many domestic partners will continue to abuse regardless of the calendar day.