Dr Gabrielle Hosein


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The International Women’s Resource Network (IWRN) says fear, shame and unwarranted power must be removed from domestic violence.

The IWRN made the comment yesterday in response to the killing of Laventille resident Sherian Huggins, 29, by her former husband. Huggins, a mother of four, was chopped to death early yesterday at her Dan Kelly home.

In a release, the IWRN told women in violent relationships “you have a moral responsibility to raise a flag and seek help.” It said peace belonged to all women and urged them to speak up on any act of intimate partner violence, be it verbal or physical, that threatens that peace.

“For years, the country has witnessed incidents where perpetrators who seemingly feel an unwarranted sense of power, take their own lives after murdering their spouses or partners; such behavioural pattern denotes that there are clusters of men in this society who just don’t care when their minds are made up to commit their dastardly acts,” the IWRN said.

It urged women to stop feeling shame and fear or worrying about being victimised by others, as these were the emotions trapping them in silence, an action which often leads to the tragic end of women in intimate partner violence and domestic situations.

The IWRN said it was currently updating its 2018 recommendations sent to Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi on the issue of a more constructive approach as it relates to protection orders, fines and penalties for such incidents. It said it is also issuing a proposal to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley on the issue of subsidised housing for victims of abuse and their children.

Meanwhile, Dr Gabrielle Hosein, head of the Institute for Gender and Development Studies at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine, said getting rid of intimate partner violence and domestic violence might be more challenging than society thinks.

Hosein said such attacks by men against women could not be successfully eradicated as long as the well-accepted ideas of men’s power over women remained established.

“This is why women face greater male violence, often as a strategy for control, particularly when they may be asserting their independence or refusing to be dominated and when they are trying to leave relationships,” Hosein told Guardian Media.

She said when it came to the two issues, the conversation should not be focused on relationship contention among women and men but more importantly the murder of women by their partners, often in front of children, after repeated acts of severe violence.

“We should also keep in mind that mothers are more vulnerable and that their vulnerability often extends into pregnancy, or that multiple pregnancies may even result from sustained sexual violence, which is a common aspect of intimate partner violence, which we insufficiently discuss,” Hosein said.

“We should also keep in mind that economic insecurity, unemployment, substance abuse and low educational levels among men are all correlated with a higher risk of violence against women.”

Hosein said anti-violence activists anticipated that COVID-19 and the economic recession would have result in higher levels of men’s violence against women, as men were less able to meet ideals of the head and breadwinner and as economic hardship created greater relationship stress.

Organisation for Abused and Battered Individuals (OABI) founder and president Sherna Alexander-Benjamin said the prevention, intervention and work needed to ultimately eradicate intimate partner violence called for a multi-pronged approach—culturally and socially diverse strategies that must include psychological strategies for victims and perpetrators.

“My key areas of advice would be to start with education. This includes prevention education, capacity building, professional and academic incentives for citizens choosing the social work field, effective intervention strategies, psycho-social support for victims and perpetrators, economic support and investment in research— using transformative change approaches that are healing-centred and trauma-oriented, effective for policy enhancement,” Alexander-Benjamin advised.