I note with horror the recent vicious murders of three women in suspected crimes of passion including that of Ms. Gabriella Dubarry within my own constituency of Fyzabad. This is a cause for serious concern especially when several calls were made to the Government to strengthen the protection of women who are victims of domestic abuse.
I wish to offer my sincerest condolences to the friends, families and loved ones of Ms. Gabriella Dubarry, Polly-Ann Chuniesingh and Jizelle Philip.
Almost a year has passed since I moved a motion in the Parliament (on March 22nd, 2019) with the support of the Leader of the Opposition, Honourable Kamla Persad Bissessar, calling on the Government to introduce new measures to prevent gender-based violence and yet our nation’s women fail to be protected from this horrible scourge.
Since then, nothing substantial has been done by this Government be it amending legislation, implementing new policies or having new facilities for potential victims of domestic violence.
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 the UNC Women’s Arm.
They all agreed that among other measures, the Domestic Violence Act should be amended to close the loopholes that allow these crimes of passion to keep recurring. Proposed amendments included; removing the perpetrator from the home instead of the victim and a better-defined time frame for the police to respond to these complaints.
In addition, the consensus of these various bodies was the suggestion of no bail for persons charged with breaches of the protection orders.
It was further suggested that a network of support to persons who have a protection order be created. The issue of a mandatory intervention for perpetrators threatening violence was suggested as a new section within the Domestic Violence Act.
With 2020 only just beginning, we have seen three women killed in the most gruesome manner.
In the case of Gabriella Dubarry, newspaper reports indicate that threats to her life were reported to the police and she even applied for a restraining order against the suspected perpetrator. The question is, why was her application for a restraining order not treated as an urgent matter and whether the judicial system failed Gabriella in this instance? It would seem that the process for the issuance of protection orders needs urgent review.
Whilst it may be true that the restraining order alone would not have saved her life, it would have served as a powerful deterrent to the perpetrator.
The time has also come 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.
In March 2019, 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.
I call on the Government and the Minister of National Security, in particular, to give serious considerations to these suggestions made by the relevant stakeholders.
I also ask the Minister to expedite the process of the electronic bracelets for tracking and monitoring of those who may have breached protection orders.
Again, I urge the Government to take these suggestions more seriously as every day it is neglected women continue to face violence often ending in murder.