We note with concern, sympathy and empathy the high incidence of gender-based violence and violence against women, in particular, which has led to the deaths of several women. The recent murder-suicide involving Ms Naiee Singh and her estranged husband Roger Singh highlights the need to address this problem. Naiee’s life was brought to a brutal end because of the failure of all the systems currently in place to protect our women.
Almost an entire year has passed since the Opposition introduced a Private Motion in Parliament calling on the Government to introduce new measures to prevent Gender-Based Violence and to date, nothing substantial has been done. Meanwhile, our women continue to face the danger of assault, oftentimes resulting in their death. The case of the murder-suicide this week was just another example of how the current system of laws and policies are ineffective to say the least.
During the Motion led by the Opposition, members of several Non-Governmental Organisations met with and discussed plans and proposals that will increase the levels of legislative and other forms of protection for our women and girls in society. Suggestions advanced during the debate on this motion included those from consultations with the Equal Opportunities Commission, the Coalition of Domestic Violence Against Women, WOMANTRA, The UWI Institute for Gender and Development Studies, from MindWise Project, and our own UNC Women’s Arm.
We all agreed that among other measures, that the Domestic Violence Act should be amended to close the loopholes that allow these crimes of passion to keep recurring. Proposed amendments include: removing the perpetrator from the home instead of the victim and a better-defined time frame for the police to respond to these complaints.
The UNC Women’s arm also supports the call by the Equal Opportunities Commission’s Chairman, Ms Lynette Seebaran Suite for the denial of bail for persons in breach of protection orders as well.
Further, we recognise the need for greater emphasis to be placed on the education and sensitization of our nation’s children on gender-based violence. This measure, if properly implemented in schools and other settings, could play an important role in reducing gender-based violence.
With 2020 only just beginning we have seen too many of our sisters murdered. In March of 2019, in response to the motion on increasing the levels of protection of our nation’s women by the Opposition, the Minister of National Security and The Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister made several commitments about the protection of our nation’s women but to date, nothing significant has been done.
The UNC Women’s Arm calls on the Government to take urgent steps to ensure another life is not allowed to be taken by this scourge of domestic violence and to at the bare minimum, heed the calls by the other various NGOs which have also been outspoken on this plaguing issue of Gender-Based Violence.
We also call on the Prime Minister to recognize the failure of the Minister of National Security in controlling the spiraling crime rate and for him to be replaced immediately.