As it expressed shock over the harassment and attack that led to the death of Brenda Belle, the non-profit, victim-centred BPW Barbados today reissued its call for a protocol to deal with a mandatory notification and referral system.
The organisation, which is a charity that has been actively involved in the protection and support of victims of gender-based violence for over two decades through its Crisis Centre and Shelter for Battered Women, stated this evening: “The Business and Professional Women’s Club of Barbados … wishes to express our shock and consternation at the recent harassment, attacks and eventual murder of an elderly woman.” Belle, 64, lost her life last week after she was chopped to death and her estranged husband, Allan was charged with the matter. BPW noted that both the Crisis Centre and Shelter worked with medical and law enforcement personnel to ensure the safety of victims, adding: “We are often contacted by these authorities and different private or public entities to intervene, providing safe havens for victims and their families, counselling services and other essential services. “BPW has an understanding with the Accident & Emergency [Department] of the QEH [Queen Elizabeth Hospital] and with the Royal Barbados Police Force to contact the Crisis Centre where immediate safe harbour to victims would be provided. This understanding has resulted in saving lives on many occasions; however, this arrangement seems to have failed in this instance resulting in the loss of a precious life.” The organisation encouraged further training, education and sensitisation of service-providers and the public on the issue of gender-based violence. “While we advocate for better legislation and handling of the cases, we emphasise that prevention is key. We implore the implementation of programmes in our primary and secondary schools to educate our boys and girls to reduce the overall incidence of domestic abuse, sexual assault, molestation and other violent crimes. “BPW Barbados is shocked and saddened by the recent reports of violent deaths of women. Our work continues nevertheless and we appeal to the private and public sector to band to together, to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls,” the NGO reported in a statement. It furthermore took the opportunity to remind the public of the organisation’s services and how they could be used to protect a victim and save a life, while expressing condolences to the families of those who have lost their relatives to gender-based violence. BPW has operated a Crisis Hotline since 1986, initially for victims of rape, then expanding to cater to all forms of violence against women. Since 1999 the BPW Shelter has been providing services to victims of gender-based violence, and its staff and volunteers have been on the front-lines with victims, in the courts, in the hospitals, in the shelter and other locations. (LB)