We mourn the lives lost to gender-based violence, particularly intimate partner violence, a scourge that has brutally taken 3 lives since the beginning of the new year. A far cry from the Vision 2020 we hoped for. Gabriella Dubarry, Jezelle Phillip-Fournillier and Polly Ann Chuniesingh have joined the growing list of women killed by the men in their lives.
This is a crisis, our men are killing us with impunity and the government's lack of understanding on the issue leaves our society unprepared to provide the protection and support survivors need in crisis situations. Domestic violence is not “man and woman business”. These affects echo through the entire family, community and society at large in lasting and harmful ways.
Last year, 16 women were killed at the hands of their male counterparts. Women are shot, stabbed, beaten and strangled by the men in our communities- enough is enough. Fathers, uncles, brothers and other male relatives commit horrific violence against their female relatives, it is not confined to romantic partners. The misguided calls for women to choose better men ignores 83 year old Polly Bahadoor who was beaten to death by a young male relative, or Dolmati Mangroo who was stabbed to death at her boyfriend’s house by a male relative, or 6 year old Akila Choon who’s father slit her throat in a triple murder and suicide. We cannot mask this by classifying them as bad relationships turned to crimes of passion. Men are raised to believe they possess authority in all realms of their lives and when the reality is contrary to that belief deep frustration festers. Unfortunately women and those deemed “weaker”, including other men, receive the brunt of that aggression. We say no more!
Our colonial history plays a role in the general tolerance of violence against a people once seen as property as our humanity was denied for generations. Now it is the women and gender diverse people of this nation calling for our humanity to be recognized. We deserve respect and dignity. No matter how we are related, how we dress or how we choose to live our lives, no one has the right to harm or kill another.
To counter the societal norm of unequal power dynamics. Men need to seek awareness of self and aim for self-improvement, practice healthy relationship boundaries and hold themselves accountable. Too often cries for help are shrugged off and the responsibility is placed on the victim to navigate men’s violence with kindness or aversion. Our institutions also need to evaluate and change how it may be reinforcing harmful gender expectations.
We are assembling outside the parliament on Saturday January 25th to honour the lives lost. We demand that the government takes this issue seriously and utilizes the experience and expertise of survivors, activists, and scholars in the field to build sound institutions to deal with domestic violence and gender based violence. We are grateful for the fresh commitment by the Office of the Prime Minister and the Commissioner of Police and will hold the state accountable for the outcome of these efforts. We are in solidarity with the call for action and envision a future of community-led crisis centers across the nation.
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