Government is currently reviewing various pieces of legislation to ensure that Barbados has encompassing laws which address today’s concerns. However, where there is any deficiency, appropriate legislation will be introduced to augment existing laws.
This disclosure came today from Minister of Family, Youth, Sports and Environment, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, after she signed a petition to say no to violence against women at her Hincks Street office. This internet-based campaign is being promoted by the United Nations Development Fund for Women and over 900,000 signatures have already been collected on line.
Dr. Byer Suckoo said that apart from legislation, work also needed to be done along preventative lines, including educating and counselling people so they have an idea of their rights and that of their partners. “How they can deal with situations, for example, walking away from situations which anger them; breaking the notion that it is your right as a partner to express yourself physically if there is something that offends you,” she explained.
She expressed the view that it was necessary to teach people how to deal with relationships, not just physical violence, but also emotional abuse. She pointed out that her Ministry, through its various partners, was looking to work with men, women, couples and community groups to get the message across.
The Minister added that the next phase of work would be remedial, stressing that there was not enough social support for victims or services for perpetrators, including counselling. “Right now the victim is taken out of the setting for a short time and there is no long-term plan or there is no ability to execute one; so he or she ends up in a similar situation. There is nothing that has been done for the perpetrator, who needs to be counselled and cautioned before the victim is put back in that setting,” she argued.
Dr. Byer Suckoo lamented that too many women were still victims of domestic violence, saying it was sometimes not even seen as a serious matter. “But, it is a crime and a violation of human rights….
Domestic violence is not a private matter, just between a man and a woman. It is a society’s concern. It affects entire families and communities and none of us should turn a blind eye to it, but get on board to rid domestic violence from our society,” she pleaded.