Following the latest report of a serious stabbing incident, a social advocate has suggested there is an urgent need for judicial reform to expedite the adjudication of a large backlog of cases related to domestic violence.
National Union of Public Workers Gender Affairs Chairman, Makala Beckles-Jordan, told Barbados TODAY that implementing a policy for domestic violence was not the only solution needed in Barbados. She stressed that something actually had to be done to speed up the process in the law courts with respect to such occurrences.
“I believe that that should be done, that they should have an inclusive conversation with the activists of Barbados on the policies going forward to combat domestic violence. We have had committees and associations and movements out there who have been championing the cause for victims of domestic violence and survivors of domestic violence as well, who have come out to champion the fight on domestic violence. But when you ask about policies, it is not only policy, it is understanding that they need judicial reform.
“Cases of this magnitude are taking very, very, very long to be addressed. You have situations if you look at last year, [there] were domestic violence cases where these women have been murdered who would have only come into the spotlight . . . after their murderers would have been on remand for six years, seven years and when that case finally comes up, you have that person on remand and the family has to live with the situation where they have not gotten justice for their family member. The cases are taking too long to come to an end,” Beckles-Jordan stressed.
Her comments came in the wake of the stabbing of a 33-year-old hair-braider at Country Park Towers, St Michael on Monday. The victim is still hospitalized but is believed to be in stable condition.
When Barbados TODAY visited that community today residents described the victim as a very pleasant and mannerly woman who was attacked and stabbed by a man after she was found speaking to another male at her residence. One female resident reported that while she was on an errand she saw the stabbing victim run out of her home with bloodied clothing, clutching her chest with a washcloth and panting. The victim was also begging neighbours to call her mother.
Beckles-Jordan, though not speaking specifically on that case, indicated that the union was seeking to have domestic cases dealt with while they were still fresh so that the haunting memory of specific ordeals would not have to be revisited by the victims after they had overcome their trauma.
“That is the reason why we are asking for judicial reform to have the cases read a little speedier and that way you would be able to sit down and access the stiffer penalties that you would put towards perpetrators of domestic violence,” Beckles-Jordan said.
She also called on Attorney General Dale Marshall to train more police officers to mediate domestic violence cases and also for the establishment of a special domestic violence unit within the police force.
“Victims are reluctant to come to the police station not only because of the shame, because it is shameful to be a victim of domestic abuse, but having to go to a police station where you have officers who are not trained about domestic violence who can look at a victim and this we know for a fact. In this case, we are going to have to ask for the Attorney General to ensure that the police officers are trained in domestic violence prevention,” Beckles-Jordan said.
“We need a special unit for domestic cases with special officers trained to identify and deal and handle these cases. And it is becoming a bit more serious, we are having more cases and the age is becoming younger and younger,” she added.