Moderator of the Presbyterian Church, Rev Joy Abdul-Mohan.

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With society continuing to see continued attacks against women, the moderator of the Presbyterian Church Rev Joy Abdul-Mohan is calling for an end to marital rape, which, she says, is responsible for unwanted pregnancies.

Delivering her message in commemoration of International Women’s Day yesterday, Abdul-Mohan said although legislative changes have been made, marital rape still occurs.

“In the last two decades, regions in the Caribbean have witnessed new levels of violence, which have heightened the vulnerability of women,” Abdul-Mohan said.

“It is the cause of terrible suffering in the home and society. Women are abused physically, sexually and mentally. They are disenfranchised and marginalised. Battered and abused women are isolated from nurturing, supportive communities to exercise greater control over them.”

She also contended that, “Caribbean men traditionally have poor social skills.” Consequently, Abdul-Mohan said, “Most men generally do not handle rejection very well and often resort to violence when women take issue.”

She said many rape victims in the Caribbean know the identities of their attackers.

“The failure to criminalise marital rape has been a major issue facing women. Victims of sexual violence can expect years of traumatic court appearances and delays with no guarantee of justice prevailing,” she said.

“The attention given to the treatment of sexual offenders, whilst a valid human rights concern, speaks to the male bias in the legal system and in the cultural norms which underpin that bias. Even as some females take steps towards liberation, the men in their lives are not always supportive.”

Abdul-Mohan also called for reform of gender-biased norms, noting, “Over the years, the home and society seem to be growing accustomed to despicable acts of heinous and murderous violence against women.”

She called on citizens to challenge stereotypes, fight bias and broaden their perceptions to include gender equality.

“We must create or change legislation to protect women and make interventions to improve relationships. The violence meted out against women in our country has underscored the character of brutality that has evolved into our society.

“The callous and carefree tone of abuse has branded us a nation of sycophants. Violence and crime of all forms seem to be overwhelming our country,” she added.

The Moderator called for an assessment to be done on the root causes of violence, noting that even with legislative change, there continue to be brutal attacks against women.

“Legal reforms are limited by cultural norms and social attitudes which themselves support gender biases. These biases find expression in inefficient investigation practices on the part of the police and insensitive treatment of the victim in the courtroom,” Abdul-Mohan said.

“It may be human nature to assimilate violence and move on but the home or society should never allow itself to reach a point where it has been desensitised or made immune to the shock of the grievous assaults against women.”

She also lamented that some “ballads/songs and calypsoes are politically incorrect and down-right criminal.” These, she added, should be named and shamed.