A leading advocate against domestic violence today pointed the accusing finger at both the Government and the police, saying the authorities have simply been paying lip service to the plight of victims, mainly women.
But after hearing the charges levelled by the Chairman and Founder of the SAVE Foundation Liesel Daisley at today’s commemorative ceremony marking the fourth anniversary of the Campus Trendz tragedy, which claimed the lives of six women, the president of the National Organisation of Women (NOW) Marilyn Rice-Bowen was quick to rush to the defence of the Royal Barbados Police Force
While the deaths of the six women was not the result of any act of domestic violence but a tragic fire, Daisley told the gathering of that included family members and friends the victims in Heroes Square in the City, that a new Domestic Violence Act was supposed to be put in place in the first quarter of 2014.
However, with the year almost over, she lamented that the legislation was yet to be seen or heard of, while her Foundation continued to receive daily calls from women “who say that the police aren’t doing enough to help them, and don’t take their issues seriously”.
“I don’t know about you, but I am tired, fed up, frustrated, annoyed and downright disgusted by the way women are viewed and treated in this country in 2014,” she told the solemn gathering.
“Barbadian women are being beaten daily and their children are subjected to watch,” she said, while telling the authorities, “We need action and not talk, we don’t want empty promises, we want results, we want change!”
She stressed that women are human beings with rights and that they should be respected.
“We are not objects, we are not things to invest in, we are not targets, we are not to be used and taken advantage of . . .,” she said.
“How can a man respect his mother and his sister but have no respect for his woman, his wife, or the mother of their children?” asked Daisley, who was a victim of domestic violence for two years. “This kind of disrespectful treatment is unacceptable and women need to stand up for their rights.”
However, Rice-Bowen, who also attended today’s event, told Barbados TODAY that her experience in dealing with the police has been a different one.
Following a series of deaths blamed on domestic violence, she noted that the Royal Barbados Police Force has been working directly with NOW.
She also said that in addition to establishing a Family Conflict Unit, the police had also implemented a protocol for dealing with such matters, which she said was working.
“Quite recently, a lady went into a police station to lodge a report and the police officer said, ‘okay mam, can you wait a minute?’ She said to him, ‘I don’t have a lot of time’. [But] he said to her, ‘you got to wait here because Miss Rice-Bowen and them got we writing up a lot of papers now’. So that is where we are at. They must document everything,” she explained.
The NOW president also pointed out that “unlike SAVE, we don’t have the level of complaints coming from women with regards to the police because we sat with the police and we worked out the protocol for handling domestic violence cases.
“When I speak, I speak for the 5000 strong now, and we have a working relationship with the Police Family Conflict Unit on a regular basis to find resolutions,” she added.
Rice-Bowen further evealed that next month, a major local organisation is scheduled to facilitate training for stakeholders involved in domestic violence cases, adding that one of the beneficiaries would be the police.
“There is training coming up which is going to be a certified programme for first responders, for persons who deal directly with domestic violence. The police would be involved in this training as well, so training is ongoing . . .
“Like anything else, you might get the one or two persons who might still be resisting, but I can tell you again they are in the minority,” the NOW president said.