Agree or not, the Jamaican society is a most violent place to live, work and most importantly to raise children. In addition to the high murder rate that continues to plague us, there is a tendency on our part to overlook or pay scant regard to issues of domestic abuse in the society. This failure on the part of Government and the wider society has contributed to the increase of such domestic abuses in recent times.
Like all well-thinking Jamaicans, I was deeply shocked and saddened by the recent killing of two very young children in Trelawny, as well as the murder of a mother and the injury of her daughter allegedly by the husband of the daughter.
Domestic abuse, also known as spousal abuse, occurs when one person in an intimate relationship or marriage tries to dominate and control the other person. In many instances, the male is the perpetrator of the abuse, while the female is the victim. Having said that, we must now ask ourselves the question, have we done enough or have we put in adequate measures as a civilized society to curb and decrease these barbaric and horrendous acts of violence that are targeting the very existence of our society, that of our women and children. Clearly the answer is no.
We need to re-examine the legislative framework with the aim of increasing the penalties for those in the society who are bent on creating this kind of mayhem. In the case of the mother and daughter, is it reported that the husband was released from prison two years ago after attacking his wife. Obviously, if he were still incarcerated, then he could not have carried out this vicious and senseless act.
We also need to build more "shelters" for our women and children who may be required to have a place of safety or refuge from their abusive partner or father as they navigate the slow wheels of justice in the society.
There is also an urgent need to allocate more resources to our police stations, since, allegedly in one instance, the husband of the deceased woman called the police station over a two-hour time span, without any help. This lack of action is untenable in a civilized society and corrective measures must be put in place to ensure this does not happen again.
We also need to look at the training of more para-counsellors across the island and establish a registry of those trained who could be of assistance to those persons in need of such services.
The issue of mental health needs to be re-visited since it is very likely that a significant number of these men have some mental health issue.
Finally, we need to re-visit how we are socialising our males in the society. Too many of our males still view women as their property and as such they think they can dispose of them in any manner. We need to engage and expose our men folk and the society in general to new ways of masculinity. A man should not be viewed as being 'soft' if he walks away from a potentially explosive domestic situation.
Maybe the time has come for us to teach conflict resolution courses in all our schools, from the primary to the tertiary level since domestic violence and abuse does not discriminate.