Thursday 24th November, 2005

Sports Arena
Business Guardian
Online Community
Death Notices
Classified Ads
Jobs in T&T
Contact Us
Privacy Policy


Let’s stamp out domestic violence

The death of Sherida Chickoorie earlier this week is tragic not only because a life has been lost but because there are so many others like her who could lose their lives in similar circumstances.

A glance at the headlines over the past few months would show the many women who have lost their lives to domestic violence. It would be much the same if one were to look at the headlines over the past few years.

But those remain the more high-profile incidents. They are just a small sample of a problem that affects hundreds of women and children in T&T.

Domestic violence is a problem that happens quietly. Deaths like Ms Chickoorie’s bring the problem into the public domain but we soon forget about it as other situations arise.

T&T is in the midst of a crime wave. Murders have passed 300, but the emphasis remains on drug-related and gang-related crimes. That approach is not without merit. Government, rightly so, has had to focus its attention on curtailing gang activity and drug trafficking. Those are two phenomena that are international in reach and because of that extremely difficult to deal with.

But what about the Sherida Chickoories out there? These are women whose lives are either in danger or have already been destroyed by domestic violence.

Tomorrow the country marks the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Tomorrow should present an ideal opportunity for T&T to reflect on the problem and learn more about how to deal with it. It should also be a time when domestic violence is discussed openly.

One of the problems has been that while it remains on the backburner, incidents, including deaths, continue. According to the T&T Coalition Against Domestic Violence, there were 490 reported assaults by beating in 2004. There were 12 murders resulting from domestic violence. In 2003, there were 23 domestic violence-related deaths.

It is certain that the number of reported domestic violence incidents is only a portion of those that actually take place.

“We should ask ourselves how many more were not reported,” Kelli Coombs, an administrator at the Coalition, said earlier this week.

The Coalition is trying to raise the profile of domestic violence and is inviting other groups to observe the day and add to the discussion. Part of that discussion will no doubt be about the rights of women who are abused. As Ms Coombs pointed out, one positive sign is that more women are coming forward to report incidents.

Another facet of the discussion has to be the law. While there is a Domestic Violence Act, the figures show that it does not offer enough protection to abused women. For example, out of 9,043 cases filed between August 2002 and July 2003, some 6,829 were dismissed and only 1,979 were granted protection orders.

Between August 2003 and March 2004, out of 5,946 cases filed, 4,458 were dismissed and 1,204 granted protection orders.

At the heart of any solution to the problem has to be ensuring that women and children receive the fullest protection of the law.

The problem of domestic violence is not unrelated to other crimes. Different types of crime can mostly be traced back to a breakdown in the family. Domestic violence is often at the heart of that breakdown, contributing to the failure of the family unit.

Stamping out domestic violence cannot, by itself, eradicate other crimes but tackling it in an open way would go a long way to stamping out a scourge that has damaged or destroyed so many families and claimed so many lives, both directly and collaterally, in such a tragic way.


©2004-2005 Trinidad Publishing Company Limited

Designed by: Randall Rajkumar-Maharaj · Updated daily by: Sheahan Farrell