Even as there are jingles about cleaning up Barbados swinging into high gear across the radio it feels like we are losing the battle against illegal dumping. I am realizing a kind of behaviour that I have never associated with the Barbadian psyche and the Barbadian way before. What is the thought process involved in buying a fridge or stove and keeping it for personal use, then to simply drive along a dark country road and fling it out of a trunk or off the back of a truck?
In olden days these items were transformed into dry storage or used to grow plants or food. This may not be advisable anymore now that we know about the harm of refrigerants. However, the broader point is that past generations, with much less education and far fewer resources, understood that they simply could not just fling their waste anywhere. They embraced the idea of reusing where they could and where they could not, they at least held onto the item until better could be done.
A few weeks ago someone moved out of an apartment nearby. They had a fridge, stove and washing machine that were no longer needed. The moving tenants placed the items on the communal pasture in the area! If this is now the approach to garbage disposal, we have a long way to go – perhaps further than a few infomercials can take us.
We woke up to pictures of another woman who was battered and bruised by a former intimate partner on Monday. It was with great surprise and frustration that I noted that the representative for the Royal Barbados Police Force indicated he did not know of the incident, had no information and could not comment on the matter.
This is the generic response of the Royal Barbados Police Force in many of these incidents concerning police officers and their current or former intimate partners or even their general interactions with the public. The Royal Barbados Police Force did not know about the two officers who accosted party goers recently at a soca event. Up to now, they have found nothing to tell the public about the officers and how they were held to account. The Force is yet to find its tongue to account for the status of the officer whose spouse had to be rescued from him at another soca event recently.
Indeed two weeks ago, I walked the length and breadth of Barbados trying to get a protection order for a family accosted by the close male relative of a top ranking police officer; nobody knew what to tell me then either. It is obvious that the victims of domestic violence and other types of gender-based abuse cannot feel comfortable going to police stations to report crimes against them if the very people they are reporting to are being seen as significant perpetrators of the very crimes they are reporting.
There is a trend that has developed within the Royal Barbados Police Force and it is embarrassing and detrimental to the overall integrity of the institution. Another thing I find unsettling is how the Force is interpreting sections of the Domestic Violence Amendment Act (2016). So many players worked so tirelessly to ensure that these amendments were delivered. The intention and stated objective of the amendments inter alia is to “extend the classes of persons who are considered to be victims of domestic violence.” It is disappointing then when the police in their interpretation of the act thwart that widening.
Let me provide an example. Men who construct love in obsessive and possessive ways are jealous of family members of their spouses. They particularly turn their wrath on family members who help protect victims or facilitate the victim in leaving violence. Mothers of victims, brothers, sisters have all been cursed, and in some cases assaulted by escalating violent partners. In such a situation, a protection order can and should be issued to not only protect the spouse but also extended family members who are being targeted.
In some cases, it seems like the police share some kind of vested interest in frustrating victims and assisting perpetrators. When the woman in Monday’s story indicated that she had held a charge for hitting a man who broke into her house with an iron, this was neither new nor surprising. Women have lost teeth in Barbados, had their eyes swollen shut and have either been charged with their perpetrator or in some cases, their perpetrator, for whatever reason, is not charged.
Precious little has changed for victims of domestic violence in the last few years in Barbados. Although badly bruised and with many emotional hurdles to surmount, I am glad she was granted life by the universe. One day at a time, precious one. It is all new and overwhelming now but this too shall become manageable with the passage of time.
(Marsha Hinds is public relations officer of the National Organization of Women. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)