I have taken a long time before writing my first blog for 2014. I was waiting for some inspiration and took my time to assess the goings-on in Paradise. The verdict is that the year has started badly for Paradise. In the space of 3 months there has been a spate of murders. What makes these incidents different to the usual news is that all the victims were women. They are in no way connected but every case is linked to domestic violence. In other words the husband or the companion has brutally murdered the woman of the house.
It started with the murder of a woman on 9th January and then a series of murdered women followed. One was strangled and the body put through a grinder and disposed of in a ravine. Another woman died from 31 knife wounds received from her ex-boy friend. Then there was the woman killed by a knife wound to the heart administered by a jealous partner in front of her three children aged 2, 4 and 5. The list goes on but I want to just mention the most horrific and latest murder which is still under investigation and to date no arrest. The woman victim died from strangulation then decapitated and dismembered probably with the use of an electric saw. The body parts thrown into a reservoir.
Violence against women has risen especially in the domestic area. Much of the violence against women happens in their homes and the assailants are usually the husbands or partners. So what makes these men turn into demons?
Recently, I have interviewed a 50-year-old woman who was, for a long time, a victim of domestic violence. Her story starts back in her youth when still living with her parents. Her father was an alcoholic and wife beater. She saw her mother’s silent distress as her mother would submit to this life pattern. At the age of 15 her mother died which meant that she would have to work to sustain the family. Eventually, she got married believing that her life would change for the better. However, no such luck, the pattern of violence resurfaced in her own family unit. Her husband who was a skilled worker in carpentry stopped working and started mingling with his drinking friends. Soon he too would be a violent alcoholic. The husband’s income now stopped the wife had to find work to sustain the family which includes her son still at school. Having come from a poor family where educating girls was not deemed necessary she desperately searched for work without any qualifications. Luckily, she was recruited into a textile factory and trained as a machine operator. Meanwhile, her husband continued his drinking spree with his friends. Many incidents happened that made this woman’s life hell. While working over-time at the factory she got desperate calls from her son to come home because of her violent husband. Returning home she would find her son, having been beaten, hiding under the table. All evening her son was unable to study or do his homework due to the violent alcoholic frenzy of her husband. This had a long-term detrimental effect on her son’s education. He failed his sixth year exams and had to retake the year. Apart from that, the woman often having to leave her work place for such emergencies would lose out on full pay and overtime payments. Further exasperating the financial situation of the family.
She described the extreme violence of her husband while drunk. She would have her hair pulled or be punched in the face and mouth. Strangely when sober the husband would be a normal meek and mild person. It was the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde effect of two personalities and when questioned on his behaviour he would not answer. Not able to continue living in this atmosphere of violence and wanting stability for her school-going son she finally decided to separate from her husband. Living with her young son in rented accommodation it is difficult to make ends meet on a modest salary. All her life has been just pain and anguish due to violent men, first with her father then later her husband. We generally think of men, husbands and fathers, as being protective and supportive but many have become the destroyers of the family unit. These men marry but continue their single life styles not caring or taking any responsibility for their families. The first victims are women who are obliged to take-on the role of provider as well as mother to children who are also traumatized. I will not go into the psychological effects on children here but the consequences can be severe.
Various NGOs and Ministers have voiced their concerns about the growing statistics of violence against women. NGOs organise awareness marches, candle-light gatherings to commemorate victims and government officials discuss tightening of laws. I do not believe that an awareness march in the streets has any influence on the situation. Nor does holding a candle-light vigil bring back the victims. As for the tightening-up of laws they do not impede the perpetrators of domestic violence because they are spontaneously acting in a violent stupor due to the use of drugs or alcohol abuse.
We can talk about the various treatments available, in the country, for drug and alcohol abuse. However, the authorities and NGOs need to stop treating the drug and alcohol abuser as a victim. Nobody forced these people to use drugs or excessively consume alcohol. The men are acting of their own free-will. It is time to stop being sympathetic to these violent monsters. They are destroying society and the nation and they are NOT the victims. What is needed is severe rehabilitation programs using a disciplinarian culture. Laws need adapting to oblige these violent addicts to follow strict programs to wean them completely off substances. The present method of providing methadone and clean syringes in open centres does not cure the problem. A short period in Brown Sequard hospital for an alcoholic does not cure. The authorities need to seriously deal with the problem and provide budgets and professionals to tackle these societal problems.
Exorcise the demons now before the trend is repeated with the younger generations. There are split families living in hate and jealousy. Children are not receiving the necessary love and education that will enable them to become responsible adults. A drastic change is required within families. The change needs to be at education level and within the family unit. We must also stop asking what the government must do but rather what the people must do to change.