Intimate partner violence is everyone's business

Intimate partner violence is everyone's business

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

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This issue of intimate partner violence is not new to Jamaica. In fact, it is a major problem globally.


In 2013, the World Health Organisation (WHO), in collaboration with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the South Africa Medical Research Council, conducted an analysis of data from more than 80 countries and found that worldwide, one in three, or 35 per cent, of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner or non-partner sexual violence.


According to the WHO analysis, almost 30 per cent of all women who have been in a relationship have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner.


The agency also found that prevalence estimates of intimate partner violence range from 23.2 per cent in high-income countries and 24.6 per cent in WHO's Western Pacific region to 37 per cent in the Eastern Mediterranean region, and 37.7 per cent in its South-East Asia region.


A worrying finding of the data was that worldwide, as many as 38 per cent of all murders of women are committed by intimate partners.


The WHO also reported that, in addition to intimate partner violence, globally seven per cent of women report having been sexually assaulted by someone other than a partner, although data for non-partner sexual violence are more limited.


This analysis, though a bit dated, provides us with a basis on which to examine and format responses to the problem of intimate partner violence in Jamaica, which has again surfaced with the killing of three women, by their partners, in a fortnight.


On New Year's Eve, the country was shocked by the slaying, in Manchester, of 24-year-old Miss Shantel Whyte by her lover.


Then on Sunday this week, we awoke to the grisly news that 35-year-old Jamaica Defence Force Corporal Doran McKenzie shot dead his common-law wife, 34-year-old Ms Suianne Easy, in Portmore, St Catherine, after which he turned the gun on himself.


As if those were not enough, on Monday morning came the equally depressing and horrific report that 27-year-old Miss Nevia Sinclair has been stabbed to death, allegedly by her ex-boyfriend, at her home in Brinkley, St Elizabeth.


Social scientists and experts in gender affairs will admit that the main perpetrators of intimate partner violence are more likely to be men with poor education, exposure to domestic violence against their mothers, a history of child abuse, alcohol abuse, and those who hold views of inequality in relation to women.


The same challenging life experiences are found in women who are the victims of intimate partner violence.


One of the problems we have in this country is that too often relatives, friends, and neighbours opt to remain at arm's length when they see signs of domestic abuse. The culturally held belief, even among the police, is to avoid involvement in “man and woman business”.


However, that subscription to self-preservation cannot be the answer. We all have a role in ensuring that people going through tough relationships get the help they need. Experts have found that empowerment counselling interventions and home visitation can be effective intervention strategies.


And if, by doing that we save at least one life, it would have been worth the effort.


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