The number of domestic violence cases here dropped last year when compared to 2015, according to anti-violence campaigner Liesel Daisley.
The founder of the non-profit organization Service Alliance for Violent Encounters (SAVE) Foundation did not provide statistics to back her conclusion. However, she told Barbados TODAY there was a noticeable decline in reports of abuse in the home.
“We have seen some improvement as far as the reporting goes of domestic violence. I found there were less incidents last year and less violent episodes in terms of women being murdered or being harmed seriously,” Daisley said.
She attributed the decline to an abundance of educational programmes facilitated by SAVE and other charitable organizations.
At the same time, Daisley warned against complacency, insisting more must be done to eliminate the scourge.
“We still need to continue using awareness so people are aware of the dangers of being in a violent situation or a violent relationship knowing that it could lead to murder eventually. People still need to be aware of the cues that they should look for when they are going into a relationship and when they are already in a relationship, what they should do should that relationship turn into a violent one,” she advised.
Daisley’s conclusion reflected that of Minister of Social Care Steve Blackett, who told Barbados TODAY in late November last year there had been a noticeable decrease in domestic abuse cases, especially deaths from domestic violence.
Blackett reported at the time that following the passage of the Domestic Violence Protection Order Act early last year, only one domestic violence-related homicide has been recorded up to that time.
This compared to 62 between 2003 and 2015, with the highest incidence occurring in 2003, when ten women died at the hands of male partners, according to the findings of two studies commissioned by the Bureau of Gender Affairs.
While not attributing the dramatic fall to the legislation, Blackett said at the time it was more than a coincidence.
Today, Daisley suggested the legislation had been effective, pointing to a reduction in the number of complaints from victims of domestic abuse regarding police response.
“Since the new Bill there has been good changes, I’m not sure if it has been a result of the Bill or not because no specific survey has been done, but certainly I’ve seen a turnaround for the better,” the SAVE president said.
“I can definitely say I have heard less complaints about police not responding or taking cases seriously in 2016. So I am very happy about that.”
Meantime, the anti-violence advocate pleaded with corporate Barbados to be patient with victims of domestic abuse and to be familiar with the signs of abuse in order to provide support.
“When you look at a lot of organizations in Barbados, in particular large ones, the majority of their staff are women, and one in every three women will be affected in one way or another by domestic abuse. So . . . more business places could get on broad and recognize the signs to look for in their employees and not necessarily penalize them because they need time to go to court or they need time to go the doctor,” Daisley contended.
This position was supported by President of the Business and Professional Women’s Club Nicole Alleyne, who called for greater awareness among human resource managers “in terms of recognizing the signs and symptoms of persons who are experiencing domestic violence at home.
“Domestic violence is not just limited to the home but it does affect a person’s productivity,” she warned.