Tragically, dismally and disturbingly we have staring us in the face once again the dreadful death of another. As Jacqueline Gibbs, the mother of the slain young woman, whose battered body was found in the bushes of Vaucluse in St Thomas, asked, why?
Why indeed did the 23-year-old Onicka Malicia Gulliver have to be discovered as a mere decomposing corpse less than 72 hours after being reported missing to the police? What manner of being could have inflicted such gruesome injury on another and, with Death’s scythe, separate the physical from the soul in the environs of the Mangrove Landfill?
How many more shall die before we find out why –– and how shall we stop it?
Understandably, passions will rise and tempers will flare. Families will mourn; friends shed a tear. All decent, thoughtful and law-abiding Barbadians will bemoan this most vicious and inhuman act; but after the expression of sadness over the loss, what then?
The law will take its course, naturally, in this horrific case. But the haunting question remains: who will be the next Onicka Malicia? Or, shall
we stop it?
Clearly, the law offers no guarantee that the violence and abuse spouses suffer will come to an end. In fact, the law can make little boast of changing people’s attitudes, conduct and behaviours. The best it comes close to is punishing those it can prove as perpetrators. Surely, we need to do better than that –– better for our women, who are collectively our grandmothers, mothers, aunts, sisters, nieces, spouses, daughters and granddaughters.
As we have said before, there is need for a genuine melding of the groups that represent the two genders. They must sit and talk.
With all the anti-domestic violence laws, and poster, radio, television and social media promotions, women, in particular, and men are still being abused, some of our females –– too many –– dying from it. It must be self-evident that there is an urgency for a more gender organizational and societal application and resolution to this most vexing problem.
We propose that the Bureau of Gender Affairs be the host and arbiter of these confabulations between the organizations that represent the sexes. And they need not be –– rather, ought not to be –– exclusive to the National Organization of Women and the Men’s Educational Support Association.
The church has a pivotal role to play in this resolution too and ought not to gorge itself upon the notion that its Men’s Fellowship and Mothers’ Union and other such gender groups should be gated in some exclusive and secluded religious place or holy ground.
Both sides of the sexes need to get to the table –– fast. Of course, there is much public outcry when a woman dies –– which is somewhat rare when compared with other places we will not name; but it is not indicative of the level of abuse suffered by our women generally. Regrettably, the number of such victims is on the rise.
And the fact that some women are abusive towards men –– is added motivation for the sexes to sit and seek understanding, reconciliation
These are hard economic times, and the best of well-intentioned couples may yet have mind-sapping challenges. What of those pairs who are far less accommodating, compromising and engaging? What of the woman who must reside with an abuser longer than she would for financial reasons? What of the man who must work and pilfer, pilfer and work to satisfy a demanding and self-absorbed spouse?
Yes, financial factors will from time to time contribute to challenges in the home; but these are not always the causes of domestic violence. There is too the psychological component, buttressed by tradition.
Contributing to intimate partner violence too is the emotional dynamic that a man is not a man if he cannot provide for his woman, and that he is even lesser so, if he doesn’t or cannot control her. Worse yet will come of any notion he has that she is making a fool of him –– which the woman, unwittingly, may make no attempt to dispel.
Then there is the sentimental concept that another can make you happy and whole and is responsible for your happiness, the failure of which, one way or the other sets the two up for an environment of abuse.
On advances towards equality between the sexes, Barbados has done well in a patriarchal society as it has been. With that same resolve we can curtail this burgeoning need for retaliation among the sexes.
We just need to talk. Honestly!