Clear, unequivocal zero-tolerance statement on domestic violence

Posted by at 27 June, at 13 : 47 PM Print

Caribupdate Weekly condemns – in the strongest possible way – the recent gruesome killing of Nexiann Downes-Clarke. Her decomposing body was unearthed in a shallow grave in the community of Mt. Moritz a week ago.

We firmly believe that justice needs to be swift and that the convicted killer or killers be made to experience the full extent of the law for such a horrendous crime. It’s the least that can be done for Nexiann. It will also send a clear and unequivocal statement that as a nation, our tolerance for domestic violence is zero.

Unfortunately, many would not rush to embrace the view that we are a nation with a collective zero tolerance for domestic violence, if only based on the evidence of our recent history.

According to police, Nexiann was beaten on the head and also choked. Around the same time that her life was being taken – in a separate incident – Roslyn Cobb was rushed to hospital in critical condition.

Cobb was attacked and chopped several times as she attempted to flee to save her life.

Domestic violence, particularly targeting our women folk, continues to be an escalating and lingering problem in Grenada; that’s in spite of an increase in the level of anti-violence advocacy, as well as improvement in legislation to stamp out the plague of domestic abuse against women.

It wasn’t very long ago that the nation was plunged into a state of shock as three women lost their lives within weeks, as a result of open attacks on them.

The ugly scourge of domestic violence has claimed many young lives including that of Shevon Augustine – burnt to death; Akera Lalgi – chopped to pieces; Marsha Jones, chopped to death; and Marsha Cherma – chopped to death.

The passionate social development minister, Delma Thomas, has been quick to condemn the latest act that cost Nexiann her life, leaving a young baby motherless.

Thomas says her ministry takes the welfare of every victim of gender violence seriously, and that it is working tirelessly to ensure that an efficient network continues to be in place to help all victims.

Indeed, we have to applaud the level of advocacy on this issue in recent years; much of it has been led by the Grenada National Organization for Women (GNOW).

The constant advocacy has involved street demonstrations as well as an annual period of activism adopted from the United Nations.

As a result, we have seen improvements in our laws against domestic violence, highlighted by harsher penalties and enhancement in the protection mechanism for victims.

But more needs to be said and done as part of a fresh and sustained campaign to end what now seems like some sort of a civil war aimed at our women folk.

While we boast to the world of our low crime rate in our efforts to boost our tourism industry, sporadic violent acts continue to claim the lives of our women in the face of a collective silence by still too many sectors.

Perhaps the time has come to name and shame perpetrators of this crime, since many of them are able to slip back into society unnoticed and have been known to continue committing those acts of violence.

It must not just be serving the maximum penalty for their crime. We also recommend that a list of those convicted be created with their pictures and made public, paraded in traditional and social media.

All Grenada must know and remember the names and faces of convicts of domestic or gender violence. We compliment the gains in eliminating domestic violence; but we must concede that enough has not been done.

The sickening reality is that in this small close-knitted society, it is well known that even some of those entrusted with upholding our laws are themselves perpetrators of gender violence.

It’s a sad commentary and reflection of how deep and longstanding the problem is when those who have signed up to protect us against violence are among those breaking the law in this regard.

We hope the collective voices nationwide, strong penalties and improved procedures – as part of a stepped up and sustained campaign – will rid our nation of this problem once and for all.

In the meantime, those in domestic violent relationships or at-risk of becoming victims are being encouraged to call 911 to report any concerns.

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