As the world today celebrated International Women’s Day, a local clergy woman lamented the continued abuse of girls in the island who for one reason or another do not report the incidents.
Reverend Marlene Britton-Walfall, quoting from the media accounts of a youth advocate, noted that the young man spoke of several females he knew who had told him of their own experiences with rape and sexual abuse.
Maintaining that each of the girls would have been minors when the attacks occurred and the fact that several still suffered the impacts despite the time that had passed, Britton-Walfall questioned the state of society that allowed these things to occur.
She said each time a baby was christened, parents, grandparents, godparents and friends stood up and pledged to look after the safety and upbringing of the child, but questioned where these same people were when that child suffered abuse.
“Promises have been made by this nation of Barbados at varied times, by varied persons at varied administrative levels; promises that these persons will find a place of refuge, a safe haven for themselves and their families until they are able to move forward; promises that the police force will respond in a timely manner to emergency calls so that serious bodily harm or even death can be prevented, especially where there is an order of the court in force against the offender; promises that the judicial system will not punish the victim or survivor all over again…
“So it is indeed sad that in the year 2013, when we are straining to claim a coveted place as a developed country, that these promises to provide the support system necessary for victims of domestic violence to be really helped have not been fulfilled in entirety,” said the minister as she addressed an audience at UN House in recognition of the International Women’s Day.
Adding that Barbados’ anthem affirmed the place of God as our guide, she further called for an acknowledgement of those who make an effort to change mindsets, namely the entertainers, the counsellors, social workers, the spiritual leaders, and activists.
“Make the promise to be not only spectators who offer the oft heard statement ‘cuh dear’, when another tragedy occurs, or try to find what the woman could have done to be on the receiving end of the violence even as we shake the heads from side to side and do the ‘tsk, tsk’ thing, but change agents, who educate so there is behavioural change; change in the way conflict in relationships is handled; change in the way manhood is defined – that is, the ability to physically dominate a woman does not make one a man; change in the levels of tacit acceptance of the practice by society saying – you don’t know what she did to make him trip.” She called for changes in the legislation to give it more teeth, as well as for changes in the training regime of law enforcement personnel, in the judicial process so survivors do not feel victimised over again and to change the unwritten policy that states that women should not hold certain positions but know their place. (LB)