The killing of Reshma Kanchan on the September 29 showed us violence against women continues despite our Domestic Violence laws and the recently established Gender-Based violence Unit.
The beginning of the year should have given us a forewarning.
In the first ten days of 2020, there were 3 domestic homicides and up to September 30, 36 domestic homicides reported, with 1681 reports of domestic violence.
This points to a major societal problem involving learnt behavior and persons being blindsided by love or psychologically trapped in a relationship. A patriarchal social system that gives men the impression they have the right to possess and dispose of women as property.
It is perpetrated by frustrated men who have given themselves a licence to kill. Culturally sanctioned beliefs about the rights and privileges of husbands have historically legitimised a man’s domination over his wife and warranted his use of violence to control her.
Our nation should not have to bear witness of such gruesome events and some persons and children may be psychologically scarred.
Principal Jezelle Philip-Fournillier was stabbed to death in front of children.
This problem is greater than we think, persons are abused almost 35 times before they report it, so a report coming to the attention of the police should not be taken as a first time isolated event but the culmination of abuse finally allowing the police to act and investigate.
We need to educate women about the dangers of abuse and every act of violence should be reported. If he truly loves you, he should be willing to try solve the relationship issues.
A man’s act of violence tends to create a context of fear, power and control and with time condition his mind that he indeed has this power.
If he gets away, this could cement his point of view and perpetuate his action.
A report can mobilise the State’s machinery to look into the man’s psychosocial history. Was he violent in school? Does he suffer from a personality disorder? Alcohol and drug problem? Does he suffer from depression, anger management issues ,a pattern of antisocial behaviour?
While a tired man with stress of work, traffic, financial problems etc can lash out and this can be a one off event, we still need to be able to evaluate this person to see if he can be a potential killer.
Women may be motivated by love and blame themselves for getting him angry and willing to forgive.
In the well-known cycle of violence, there is a pattern—the begging phase where he says he can’t live without you and swears to change, then the honeymoon phase where he treats you nice then the buildup phase, which then escalates back to the violence phase.
Women need to learn and understand the pattern.
The time of leaving is the most dangerous as seen in the chopping death of Neisha Sankar on September 2.
We need to assist women to leave and monitor the men and bring them into therapy to deal with their loss. This danger remains high for three months after a couple split, dipped slightly for the next nine, and dropped significantly after a year.
We need Re-introduction of the Community Police. They can find out from persons which homes need attention.
We need the introduction of family violence education and gender into the school curriculum, this will allow children to speak out if abuse occurs at home, also addressing the inter generational cycle of violence. Sometimes children witnessing abuse may think this is acceptable and themselves abuse while some equate love with licks and think if they are not beaten they are not loved.
Half the women killed by their partners had sought help from the police or the criminal-justice system at least once, and that the single biggest indicator for domestic homicide was a prior incidence of physical domestic violence.
A Danger Assessment tool looks at risk factors for homicide. Substance abuse, weapon (cutlass) ownership, record of violence,forced sex, threats to kill, choking; chronic unemployment are all caused for concern.
Violation of restraining orders must be involve a dangerousness hearing where defendants can be held until trial or monitored by GPS.
Defense training for the victim, rehearsing emergency situations, neighbourhood vigilance, erasing profiles on social media and changing daily habits, such as where they shop or the route taken to work are all factors which can assist.