Domestic violence: Crossroads of a nationSunday, May 09, 2021
Domestic murders accounted for almost a third of murders in 1990. Domestic murders last year stood at under 200. This is approximately 10 per cent of total murders. So the percentage of murders attributed to domestic conflict has significantly reduced. Why though?
Is it because we are having greater success at resolving conflicts? Is the police force more proactive at prevention? Or, have we become more civilised in our treatment of our family members?
We have improved in at least the first two of the noted areas. We also are far less tolerant of spousal abuse. The fact that anyone has the power to vent to millions on a gadget in their hands may also be a factor.
The real reason though is that the spike in murders has not been equally distributed to all types of murders. The spike is a surge in gang activity and a corresponding recession of law enforcement's ability to control gangs.
This came about largely by the repealing of the Suppression of Crime Act and the restructuring of the bail process and the act that governed it. There was, of course, other factors, to include, but not limited to, the deportee crisis, the attack on the police force by wealthy elements in the society and the shift of power from politicians to overseas gangsters in respect of the financiers of the local thugs.
All of the above noted gave gang activity a steroid shot. Escalated gang activity manifested itself in a murder epidemic.
The domestic murder rate did not get this stimulus, thus it never increased at the same rate. So are we a success story in relation to the minimising or improving the risk factor of being a victim of your lover, husband, wife or sibling? No, we are still doing pretty bad. It is just that the gangsters got worse and directed their hate to primarily their own fellow gangsters.
This type of murder is pretty much a non-preventable crime, as is most murders. That is what your leaders do not want to tell you. And I do not blame them. It is a hard bite to swallow.
So is there anything we can do about domestic murders?
A good place to begin is to remove the law that requires a female spouse to be a complainant against her partner. In the United States of America (USA) you do not need a signed complaint against a husband. They just need visible signs.
So with that highlighted issue, I guess it is time to look on the 'Wright scandal'.
This is living proof that we need to take the wife out of the matrix in respect to being a part of the process to prosecuting perpetrators of domestic violence. Trust me, this is where murder begins. The act of killing is the end game that begins with threats, physical violence and intimidation in general.
However, until the law is changed, do not blame the police. Law enforcement can only operate within the constraints of the law.
The process though, whether bad or good, needs to be observed and followed. We cannot come to judgement without a process. This is not to assist Mr Wright, who may be or may not be guilty, but rather to prevent the conviction of an innocent man, any man, whomever he may be. Only if we believe in following a process can we achieve some measure of guarantee.
There is, however, a different type of responsibility for a man like George Wright. He is an elected Member of Parliament. He may have the right to remain silent in a court of law, but not in the court of public opinion.
We demand an explanation. Whether it is not you in the video, or you drank a mad cat's urine that day, or you were subjected to a strong dose of obeah. But we want to hear something.
An apology may soften our anger, disgust, shame, or shock that we are feeling. He is one of our leaders. He gave up the right to keep silent in the face of utter horror when he took his oath of office.
So I would advise a genuinely worded video that explains the events of that day. If not, he simply cannot remain in office. 'We the people', more important 'we the press', will not allow it.
Everybody loses here. The battered woman and the surrender of her dignity by being so afraid that she dares not seek justice. She must feel so beaten. The image of our nation, ultimately being the loss of a future leader who showed great promise prior to this incident. And last, but not least, the Jamaica Labour Party that had its image tarnished, actually not tarnished, smashed like a crystal vase.
Trust me, they are going to have to act in some way. They are going to have to show us that the habits and practices of the generation that preceded us in respect to wife beating are no longer 'okay'.
Parliament, as an institution, I am not letting you off either. You all need to huddle and figure out the way forward 'because dis naw guh so'.
I have a daughter and nieces and no elected leader is going to beat a female like an attacking animal and you guys do nothing about it. You are an institution that stands alone. Divided in the process of selection, but united in the governance of our country. You have your part to play in this scandal and will be judged on how you handle it.
Our laws need drastic action. We do not like drastic. It is just the end result of having Michael Manley and Edward Seaga as prime minister. We are still shell-shocked by them. I understand, but we are in danger of becoming impotent because of our fear of being anything but Toronto or Berlin? We are not them. We have savage challenges.
The same fear that stops us from introducing legislation that removes the need of a woman to sign a complaint against her partner is preventing us from legislation that castrates serial rapists, introducing indefinite remand acts and embracing the concept of mass incarceration for gang members as a method to win this war.
It is the same fear that deters us from the introduction of states of emergencies and parish ZOSO's.
Failure to act is far less forgivable than failing whilst acting.
The time to make a real stand against domestic violence, femicide and gender inequality begins with how this scandal ends.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness, the Jamaica Labour Party, the Jamaican Parliament, we are watching!
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