Legislation is not the only answer to address domestic violence issues in Barbados.
Attorney General, Adriel Brathwaite, made this point yesterday as he addressed a panel discussion at the Beulah Methodist Church on the topic: Domestic Violence, Act Now: The Church???s Response.
First, he dispelled the notion that the Office of the Attorney General was holding-up the passing of the new legislation. ???Yes, we took longer than I would have liked???but it is not just a question of drafting a piece of legislation,??? he stated. However, he gave the undertaking that the Domestic Violence Bill should be before Parliament by the first quarter of next year.
But, the Minister noted that behaviour could not be legislated. ???We need to spend time talking and educating people,??? he added.
He told his audience that there was a need to canvass the ???actors??? involved in domestic violence situations and examine the root causes of the problem, so responses and the correct response machinery could be determined.
???My concern is that we have become a violent society, and that extends to the households. Teachers are saying there is more aggression in schools, especially among young girls,??? he pointed out.
Mr. Brathwaite, who is also Minister of Home Affairs, suggested that the foundation of the Barbadian society needed to be examined to see what has gone wrong with what children were being taught.
???Our children are shooting each other on X-boxes. I don???t see any pictures of love and relationships; what sells seems to be violence. Seldom do we hear songs of love. We need to get back to our foundation,??? he maintained.
He noted that while some persons said there was a need to update the legislation, and accused the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF)
of not doing what it should to stem the acts of violence, there was a need for earlier intervention.
The Minister also called on the media to highlight stories of hope so children would know ???there is a better tomorrow???. ???I am not asking the media to print only the good stories, or create the impression that Barbados is on utopia, but it would be good to see a story of hope. ???But, we don???t see those stories because they do not sell,??? he lamented.
Mr. Brathwaite urged citizens to understand that: ???If you only expose people to negative, the end result would only be negative.???
Panellist, Sergeant Roland Cobbler of the RBPF, also expressed concern that the nature of domestic violence cases in Barbados was becoming ???extremely??? violent, but re-emphasised the commitment of the Force to dealing with such cases. ???Our role is the protection of life, and if one life is lost, it impacts on our role as the vanguard of society,??? he said.
However, he expressed concern over the violence to which some children were exposed to daily, noting that it was having an impact on the Force???s crime prevention strategies.
The Police Sergeant explained that research had shown that once children were exposed to certain practices, they were likely to become delinquent.
Other panelists included Social Worker, Sharon-Rose Gittens and Attorney-at-law and Methods Preacher, Creig Kinch.