While the number of deaths from domestic violence has dropped, the level of violence is rising, the head of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Gender Affairs Committee Makala Beckles-Jordan has charged.
Minister of Social Care Steve Blackett disclosed earlier this week that there had been a noticeable decrease in deaths resulting from domestic violence, with one killing so far this year compared to 62 between 2003 and 2015.
In a reaction to the disclosure, Beckles-Jordan did not address the killings, pointing instead to increases in abuse in Barbadian homes.
“The numbers have not significantly dropped, [instead] they have risen, because you have some women now who are complaining, not to the relevant authorities, but they are complaining to family members. Persons are taking matters into their own hands and the domestic violence in this country is rising, whether it be violence on women, violence on same sex relationships or violence on children,” she argued without providing statistics.
Beckles-Jordan suggested that any reduction in reported cases might have to do with the dissatisfaction that victims felt when they file complaints against their abusers.
She contended that many felt letdown by the justice system, including the police.
“What we’re seeing is persons who are not satisfied with the level of representation, namely from the legal aspect, being calling policemen. They have been reaching out to the relevant authorities and yet some of them have been disregarded, some of them might not even have gotten the response that they wanted.”
It was for that reason, she claimed, that many victims were finding other ways to deal with domestic violence, including turning to social media to state their case.
Blaming the male-dominated society for making domestic violence seem acceptable, Beckles-Jordan urged victims to speak out against their abusers, insisting, “the problem of abuse cannot be solved unless we speak out united”.
On the subject of a sexual offender’s registry, for which women’s rights advocates have been clamouring, and which was raised again this week by a victim of attempted rape, the NUPW official said it necessary in the fight against sexual abuse.
“When you look into society right now we have some offenders who are repeat offenders and they are now leaving and going after big women and going after younger girls; eventually, they are going to leave going after young girls and they are going to go after children,” she warned.
However, Beckles-Jordan said the authorities needed to go beyond a register and provide the necessary assistance to offenders, some of whom have been victims of abuse.
“These offenders, when you look into them and their history, those persons might have been persons who might have been affected by abuse themselves. Some persons do not have a way in which to speak about their experience so they tend to live their experience by becoming the predators.
“If we have this registry, [it] would bring to light those persons who have been offenders and it would also serve as a standpoint for persons in society to now form a rehabilitation centre,” she recommended.