The President of the National Organisation of Women (NOW) Marsha Hinds has expressed outrage that some Barbadians have been placing the blame for Cornelius Barrow’s alleged actions and the children’s death on the shoulders of their mother Jovona Johnson-Barrow who finalized her divorce with the deceased on Monday.
She confirmed that over the past couple months, NOW had been working to get the mother to stand up for her rights and face the law courts.
Hours after the man and children perished in a house fire at an apartment building in Warrens, St Michael, Hinds said Barbadians have already started, through social media, to pronounce on a case that has many red flags in relation to issues of domestic and intimate partner violence.
However, she said people have no idea about the events that led to the young mother grieving the loss of her children to the point that she had to be rushed for medical attention.
“She is in hospital sedated. You know what is losing both of your children in that fashion when you were just fighting for the same children because you knew they were going to die? She can’t talk, not that she won’t talk, she can’t. And I suspect that with all of this media frenzy now they will have to put her on suicide watch too.
“She was fighting to protect her children. There is a history of abuse within this relationship,” Hinds told Barbados TODAY.
The activist argued that the alleged horrendous and horrific act was part of the reason why in recent times, NOW has been saying that access, custody and maintenance were rights of children, and that decisions around those issues must be made in the best interest of the child.
“And the only way that those decisions can be made in the best interest of a child is in a system that functions and in a system that does the needed investigations and then makes the decisions based on the investigations.
“Wherever there is alleged intimate partner violence within a divorce, within a separation, I do not believe that there should be automatic custody for the person who is alleged to be the perpetrator.
The activist explained that there was supposed to be a custody hearing with respect to the children that apparently had not yet been dealt with by the court.
“So [Cornelius] was stopping the woman from being able to see the children so she went to court and made an application to spend some time with her children. As far as I know, the court had not ruled on the entire matter. They had just ruled that since he has basically been holding the children hostage that they should go and spend some time with their mother.
An upset Hinds also lamented that when she thought about the logistics of the case, she felt as though she was living in an alternate universe.
“You put up pictures on Facebook of a child with what looks to be a heat rash. Every baby in Barbados gets heat rash at this time of the year. You put up a child with what seems to be a simple heat rash, asking how you are going to protect the child. And the very
person that is asking that question is alleged to have burned these children in a bed with himself.
“How do we miss all of those red flags and go to the point where we honestly believe that this man’s actions were driven by him not getting custody of his children. This man’s actions seemed to have been driven by his illnesses, by his issues, by things that he needed help dealing with, not that the victim had any responsibility to help him with,” she said.