Interviews and photos
by Shabna Ullah

This week on What the People Say we asked persons to comment on what can be done to fight domestic violence, whether they have intervened to save victims and what are the major contributing factors. Here are their responses:
20130916markMark Adridge, labourer,

‘I feel that counselling can help to solve the problem of domestic violence. Probation officers should also visit the homes to try to resolve matters. In the early stages the police can be called in to warn them (abusers). But if it is happening too often they should be locked up. I feel too that in some cases women are taking advantage of the situation because they have rights and the men don’t [seem to] have any. When men get beat up and they go to the station to make a report the police laugh at them. It happened in my case. My wife accused me of having another woman and she beat me up. I wouldn’t lie, I hit her back and we separated after that. We still speak to each other because of the children. I think alcohol contributes to domestic violence, although this was not so in my case. It is also caused by a lack of understanding and couples having different likes and dislikes.’

 

 

 

 

 

Tara Singh, farmer,

‘I think that most of the domestic violence occurs because of women’s rights. Since this woman’s rights law came out, you can’t do them anything, you can’t speak to them too hard. The minute you open your mouth and say anything they gone to the station for you, they gone to the human rights for you and that is where the problem is created. My wife and I are separated after we had a big fight. I ended up beating her up and we went to court and I had to pay a fine. Nobody comes around and talk about the rights of men in this country. What happen, men don’t have rights too? I share my experience with others about what I passed through and I help them with their problems. In most cases, cheating results in domestic violence. I don’t think alcohol should be blamed for it like. Some women are blaming the alcohol but they are in fact creating the problem. I think that if they contend with whatever they have in the home there would be no problem. Region Five needs to set up a place to represent men’s rights so they can go and share their story. Men feel they don’t have rights because women are taking advantage.’

 

20130916gewanGewan Ram, farmers’ representative,

‘There should be heavier penalties for persons involved in domestic violence. This would cause them to behave themselves. Many times I hear couples quarreling and I would go and talk to both parties and make peace. One of the things that contribute to domestic violence is money issues. When some men work, they keep their money in their pockets and this may lead women to go and find other men. I don’t think that alcohol contributes to domestic violence in all cases. Long ago you had match wedding but now young people are choosing for themselves and in some cases they end up with the wrong partners. Another factor is that couples marry too young and they are inexperienced and they end up in problems and start cheating on each other. That results in serious problems, like violent attacks.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20130916julietJuliet Dukhi, social activist/volunteer,

‘First of all, I would like to point out that domestic violence is not only about male abusing female, but also vice-versa. However, in our society domestic violence (and abuse in all forms) of the female gender, is more prevalent. Aware-ness at all levels can help to fight this problem. We can start by teaching our children from as early as Grades five or six or from ages 8-9 years-old to develop non-violent relationships. This is where the Ministry of Education will have to play a major role. If our ministry incorporates this in the schools’ curriculum, by the time those children attain adulthood we would have eradicated violence from our society. There are also the different places of worship and of course the many non-governmental organizations where awareness can be conveyed. We should empower our women to speak out. I have always advocated that ‘the best way to help him is to have him arrested,’ as this is the vital first step. Of course; having the perpetrators arrested would also mean not going back and begging for the charges to be dropped, as this will only be going two steps backwards instead of one step forward. The court should also have the power to penalize perpetrators accordingly even though the victim may drop charges and the victim should be fined for wasting the court’s time. There should also be anger management classes within the grass-roots for both male and female. I never intervened to help a victim as I was never an eyewitness, but I have always spoken out against it and encouraged others to do same. There are many factors that contribute to domestic violence, such as alcohol consumption, personality traits, stress and mental illness to an extent. It is also caused by social issues such as family background, upbringing, unresolved childhood conflict, hostility, resentment, the need for power and control of the other partner as well as poor impulse control, poor self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy, poverty and inadequate finance. Also if the victim accepts the violence the cycle definitely will continue into generations to come.’

 

 

20130916donDon Ramkarran, retired welder,

‘Men need to be educated a little more about how to treat women. Women are not their slaves or their servants. They need to have respect for women and try not to use their hands. I was never in a position to intervene to help save a victim. I think it is their mentality that causes them to abuse women. They need to change their attitude.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20130916nazimNizam Ally, cane-harvester,

‘I think counselling can help to prevent domestic violence. You find that if persons don’t seek help for their problems they take their frustrations out on their partners. I never intervened to save a victim because if you go into a husband and wife story they start to ‘buse and curse you so you try to avoid a problem. It is a normal thing happening with neighbours around but you just can’t do anything. I am not saying that if it reaches a stage when it gets too violent that I would not assist. I find that domestic violence is caused when the men consume too much alcohol or smoke dope or when some women want to walk out late at nights.

I have other issues in my area [Bath]. We have a lot of thief-men around and at nights when you call the police are not responding. We also have another problem where persons would dump garbage in big bags on the streets. When you wake up in the mornings you would just see the bags with the garbage appearing. Other residents have to clean it up and that is not fair.’

 

 

 

 

20130916claudeClaude Rose, cane-harvester,

‘I have never been involved in domestic violence so I don’t know too much about it. I think though that alcohol and marijuana can contribute to it or when one party finds out that the other is cheating. I have never had the cause to intervene to save any victim.

As a worker, I have a concern about the estate trucks picking us up from 4 ‘o clock in the morning from close to the Abary. But it does not take us home in the afternoon. We have to take public transportation and that was not the arrangement.’

 

 

 

 

20130916rhondaRhonda Aulder-Fordyce, housewife,

‘Counselling, to me can help to prevent domestic violence. And at least if that doesn’t work, then the police need to get involved. In some cases the police and the abusive partners can be friends so you have to report to a police who would not take sides. Some abusers even go and pay a bribe and the police would just drop the matter. My husband was never violent, he was caring and he looked after our eight children’s needs up-to-date. But sadly we have been separated now since February because of interference from his family. He works in the interior and they lied to him about me and he listened to them. Now he does not want to support our children and did not even purchase school supplies or pay the school fees for them. I had to go and explain to the head teachers about the fees. When I reminded him that the children needed school clothes he said ‘speak to my lawyer.’ He lied to the probation officer and the court that he lost his job and he is only paying $500 per week for four of the children. Alcohol to me is the main factor that contributes to domestic abuse.’

 

 

 

 

 

20130916margaretMargaret Hussain, cleaner

‘My ex-husband made a report against me that I don’t have time with my children; a girl 16 and the two boys 15 and 11. But I have been working at the school as a cleaner to get money to take care of them. He was working at the estate [labourer] and he never really used to give me money. He would just buy grocery for the house and if the children short of anything, people used to give me and that is not right. Last year he made the [child protection officers] come and take the children away from me and place them in a home in Georgetown. When I call they don’t allow me to speak to them and when I go monthly I hardly get to talk to them. I would really like to get back my children but I don’t know what to do to get them back. My ex-husband used to ill-treat me and beat me and run me with cutlass. People used to be afraid to come and help me because he would run them too. I made a report at the station and he was locked up and passed him through court. After that he moved out and left me and the children and then he made the report. He used to drink [alcohol] a lot too. He made a little house for me and stopped me from going into the house we were living in together. But my mother helped me to build that and I have a right to go in. He said the house is for his children but he sent his children away and he is looking after another woman’s children.’

 

 

 

20130916christineChristine Harricharran, manager,

‘To fight domestic violence, I would advise couples to live by themselves; to have their own homes and build a life for themselves rather than having the interference of in-laws/extended families. Victims in domestic violence should go and seek counselling from the Help and Shelter, Red Thread, the Ministry of Human Services and even through religious leaders. Domestic violence is caused mostly when a man drinks a lot or if he has affairs. Situations can lead a man to become violent too. Let’s say if he hears someone saying something bad about his wife or if he feels he is incapable of taking care of his family that can also lead him to become violent. Another thing is that men don’t like their spouses to earn more than them. They would feel they are not capable of doing their duties as the man of the house. It is mostly an ego problem.”

 

 

 

 

20130916aneesaAneesa Singh, housewife,

‘Seeking help in the form of counseling and educating persons through pamphlets can help to fight this problem. I have never intervened to help save a victim but I offered advice to persons about where to go to get help. I was a victim of domestic violence and alcohol was the main cause. My partner used to hit me and caused my eyes to be black and blue, he slammed me into the gas stove another time and burst my head. I went out and sought help from the probation officer on several occasions. When my ex-partner was sober he was not abusive. I left him and I was working to maintain my children. I was also pregnant and he wanted me to go home back and I refused. He became violent again and this time he stabbed me on my back and on my left hand and I was hospitalized. The baby was born perfectly fine a few months later. The matter finished at the high court recently and he was sentenced to seven years imprisonment.’