The government and opposition in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, on Sunday, in separate statements, condemned recent acts of violence meted out against the nation’s women
“I want to join the programme in condemning in the strongest possible terms the recent spate of violence against women,” Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said on WE FM.
Meanwhile, the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) said in a statement:
“The recent violent incidents must galvanise our community, irrespective of political and other differences, to unite in common cause and demand loudly and persistently that more be done to seek to bring an end to violence against women.”
The party further called for “a thorough investigation” into how the police responded to Arianna Taylor-Israel’s complaints that her life was threatened before she was shot and killed in Kingstown on Thursday.
Taylor-Israel, a 44-year-old nurse, visited the Questelles Police Station at least three times before she was killed on Thursday and police had in their possession at the time of her death a warrant for the arrest of her husband, Mitch Israel, 57, who is charged with her murder.
The NDP listed some of the acts of violence again women, mentioning the Jan. 4 attack on Cane Garden resident, Monique Hutchins, who was beaten in the face with a hammer, allegedly by a former lover.
Then, on Jan. 29, a voice note was circulated via social media, in which a woman pleaded with a man to stop beating her, as he threatened to kill her in a vehicle.
“Again, violence was used as the means of resolving whatever conflict there may have been between the parties. This can never be acceptable or justified,” the NDP said.
And, also on Jan. 29, photos and voice messages began circulating on social media, this time, surrounding the brutal chopping in the face of a Greiggs woman, allegedly by two other female villagers.
And, last Thursday, Jan. 30, Israel-Taylor, a Cuba-born, naturalised Vincentian was gunned down at St. Martin’s Secondary School, allegedly by her husband, who has been charged with her murder and is scheduled to appear in court today (Monday).
The couple’s eldest son attends the school and was on the compound when the shooting occurred.
“We are deeply concerned and saddened about the all-to-frequent acts of violence against women in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” the NDP said.
For his part, the prime minister also mentioned the chopping in Greiggs, the beating of the woman inside the vehicle and Taylor-Israel’s death.
Gonsalves said violence is a “complex question” for which there are no easy answers.
“… but we all know some of the things we have to do, starting in our homes, in the schools, in the communities, community organisations, community activities, what we have to do in the media, nationally, teachers, the churches. It’s everybody pulling together on this matter. “
The prime minister said it is important to put in place structures and systems, mentioning among them Sexual Offences and Anti-Trafficking in Persons Units based at the Questelles Police Station and the strengthening of the laws, which he said his government has done.
“… but these are things which when the end product comes with violence, the question is to reduce as far as practicable or prevent the extent of the violence. That’s where all of us come in,” Gonsalves said.
“Every time someone gets chopped up, I feel it in such a personal kind of a way. I could just imagine the parents of this young girl who got chopped in Greiggs, the Cuban parents and family of this nurse who got killed. She was a wonderful human being. And I knew her very well so I felt that one very, very painfully,” he said.
Meanwhile, the NDP said that, like most Vincentians, “[we] are outraged by the seeming unchecked violence against women in our society.
“These are only the recent high-profile cases, but the problem of violence against women, including sexual violence, reaches into every community and walk of life. Any such act of violence or abuse is one incident too many. Whether the cause is domestic in nature or otherwise, all such acts must be condemned and treated with equal seriousness. The full weight of the law must be brought to bear to deter them.”
The party said that the recent violent incidents “must galvanise our community, irrespective of political and other differences, to unite in common cause and demand loudly and persistently that more be done to seek to bring an end to violence against women.
We condemn in the strongest possible terms these violent acts perpetrated against women and girls in our country, and indeed wherever they occur.”
The party further said:
“We simply cannot continue to treat violence as if it were an acceptable means through which our differences can be resolved. The NDP stands ready to work with Government, churches and other social organisations to create and implement a comprehensive crime-fighting plan — one that will target acts of violence against women…
“Our sympathy goes out to the family and relatives of the victims.t is time for constructive national dialogue and effective action,” the NDP said.
Although Slavery was abolished in the British West Indies with the passage of the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 we as a people and SVG in particular, have never really experienced freedom from a top down discrimination and grossly entrenched privileges. This top down discrimination by the few here could be easily seen as its from a particular group of people and even from newcomers to this country.
Our frustration therefore, with the continued fixed social privileges of the few, continues to play a big part in how we see ourselves. This our frustration, displays itself in the random violence we heap on one another. It is suggested that “Aggression is the result of blocking, or frustrating, a person’s efforts to attain a goal.”
Slavery and all its terrible ills and the deep-seated denial of our aspirations in the country, is contributing to the high level of violence that is expressed in our communities. Ignorance, poverty and want leading to additional frustration is the lot for many Vincentians
But can we and will we ever get to know ourselves, thereby freeing ourselves, when we still allow others to rule and enslave us?
I am in total agreement that a thorough independent investigation needs to be conducted into the Questelles Police to establish what credence they gave that lady reports of threat on her life. At the first report, the authorities should have move swiftly, (1) to revoke this man firearm license, (2) to confiscate his firearm, (3) to have him arrested and (4) protection for the victim if they could not have effect an arrest. This situation is unexplainable on the part of the police. Some of them are only on the force for a salary while the others work hard to make a difference and bring about change. It’s sad how that young lady lost her life in circumstances that could have been rectify. Some heads really needs to roll.
Not sure if it exists on our books, I doubt it; but we need specialize domestic abuse legislation. Because of the sheer inertia of our politicians to tackle this issue through specific legislation; our women have paid the price with their lives.
Dr Friday, are you listening to the cry of the people? All this lip service is not going to break the inertia. Give it nine days for the fienge outrage to subside and is back to our “don’t care attitude”. In the meanwhile some where in SVG, another woman life hangs in the balance as she sees no way out of the constant beatings by the hands of loving bf or husband.
By the way, what’s the point in having laws that are not being enforced or simply inadequate. Gonsalves says his administration have “strengthened ” the relevant laws, really. Listen to the Commissioner of police in a recent interview, waxing lyrically about how the police can’t do anything if the victim refuses to press charges, even when you have ample evidence to do so. How about strengthening the law to get around this obvious flaw in our handling of domestic abuse cases.
We can’t guarantee the safety of all women in domestic abuse but the politicians can surely put legislation in place to address domestic abuse cases before the situation gets worse. And also there needs to be a massive public awareness campaign on domestic abuse to help change attitudes and behavior towards violence against women. Public education on the various resources available to victims and individuals to get help must be a constant reminder on radio and tv, social media. It’s time we elevate our game in vincyland where domestic violence is everyone’s business.
Start in the homes and schools by teaching and showing by example that violence is not the way to solve problems. Outlaw the violence against children. And for those who argue the worn out crap about sparing the rod and spoiling the child, bring your behind when you make a mistake so you could get a public flogging just as you give the child. Violence begets violence. Stop teaching it to the children. They grow into violent adults and solve their problems as they were taught. With more violence. Break the cycle now.
bravo!! best comment thus far
The statement from the Prime Minister is hog wash. If he is really serious about the violence against women, then his government should do something about it. When he appoints a known wife abuser to the position of Press Secretary, what message is he sending to women all across St. Vincent and the Grenadines? That he doesn’t give a damn about women and would only give lip service to the issue. One of the major issues regarding the violence against women in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is that many police officers and politicians are often all too willing to sympathize with the abusers because some of them are abusers themselves. Mr. Prime Minister, if you are really serious about the violence against women in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, then you and the other politicians along with the opposition party, should do something about it. Show the people that you are serious. Make an example out of the men who commit these crimes. Enough is enough! Let us see some actions.
These statements by the parties are nothing but preemptive strategies to the cry of ‘shame’ if they do nothing. Their actions prior to these statements, especially on the part of the government, are not genuine. Many of them, politicians, bureaucrats and top party supporters in the ulp are culprits and perpetrators of violence against women. They are accused rapists, wife-beaters and defenders of those in their circles who commit these acts. A bunch of hypocrites but all of you will pay one day. If you do care begin to put in place harsh penalties that will make these morons think. Bear in mind too that some of you will be caught right in the middle of these penal measures. But it’s better to be sorry now than later – no getting away at that time.
I do not think the death penalty will deter these people. I say prior to this, public physical torture: burn and cut out their ‘ball’s, cat-o-nine tails beating, crucifixion all done publicly, then still the gallows to send them straight to the grave. They’re too damn wicked. Let them feel our collective pain those who do.
Amen. Because that was starting to look like a cultural phenomenon. Now, this was brilliant reporting Kenton. I like the way you intercut the two official statements. By doing this you’ve added a new layer to the narrative and actually created a new view of the debate. Clearly, Dr.Friday is far more eloquent than his political nemesis, far more articulate, objective and less apprehensive.
SVG has a serious problem. The misogynistic brutes can’t be allowed to operate unchecked in the community. This is where the law comes in. Now, the Arbiter is the Judge but the Judge can only do what the law says. You can’t then say certain things being a PM.
The laws are being dissed by those jokers with much ease in SVG. As if everybody had lost all rational reasoning ability. The only people who are allowed to use force in a dispute are the police and the armed forces. That is the law. So when you speaking in an official capacity you don’t say things like “violence is a “complex question” for which there are no easy answers.” That is why there is a law governing criminal behavior. With a statement like that you totally circumventing the law. That is the real you
This is when you have to organize and demand legislation against the misogynistic men. Where is the church in all this? they are quiet about it. Women’s rights advocates should organize marches and peacefully protest to demand change from this dead beat government.
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