THE EDITOR: Police are now investigating the tragic deaths of four people found in a car in Hamburg Trace in Toco. The incident appears to be a case of triple murder and suicide. A man appears to have slashed the throat of his wife and killed his two children – including a seven-month-old baby and 11-year-old child – before killing himself.
Domestic violence comes in many forms: physical, psychological, coercive, financial. We live in a reactive society that tends to wait for someone to lose their life or things to get out of control before we decide to do what is necessary to ensure lives are protected. More specialist organisations need to be set up in TT that can help with counselling, therapy, workshops, support groups. The focus needs to be on empowering women to gain back their confidence and self-worth through talks, discussion groups, motivational speeches and therapeutic writing sessions. Domestic abuse is not a one time incident. It happens, usually over a long period of time.
It is time for the current government or the future one to launch a serious, effective and sustained campaign and consultation on the tragedy and danger of domestic abuse, seeking new laws from the outdated and archaic ones we currently have and stronger powers to protect and support survivors. Too many men tell their women that, "If they can't have them nobody else can." This type of dangerous and immature behaviour must be severely punished if it develops into abuse against the woman and violence against her new partner (if she manages to escape the abusive relationship).
The Government must immediately propose tougher sentencing for domestic abuse and a good idea might be the creation of a Domestic Abuse Commissioner to hold the Government to account. Domestic abuse also involves controlling circumstances in which victims have finances withheld, are denied access to employment or transport, or are forced to take out loans and enter into other financial contracts. More action must be taken quickly and effectively to better support victims because domestic abusers are getting away with "murder."
This is an opportunity to transform our entire approach to this terrible crime. I call on everyone, but especially those who have suffered abuse and violence in any form, to speak out, stand up for your rights as a citizen of this great nation and help shape the way we approach this crime for years to come in TT.