In a statement issued yesterday, the National Family Services Division (NFSD) of the Ministry of Social Development said it has come to an unlikely conclusion.
This is that in the face of heightened awareness around the issue of violence against women, this aspect of our culture has remained unchanged, and in fact has intensified.
“One would think that the statistics would be on the decline,” the ministry statement said somewhat sardonically, “however, given our local scenario, we are witnessing the opposite.”
From research conducted into the causes of domestic violence, the Division’s Programme Development Specialist has reported findings which reveal the “characteristics of domestic abusers”.
As a group, they tend to be men who are controlling, abusive and manipulative, and who believe they have a pre-ordained right to be in control of relationships. They also often see themselves as victims who would accuse their victims of making them act in the ways they do.
Having concluded that such perpetrators would not readily seek help, the ministry advises that its counselling services represent a natural starting point. It says further that there remains a great need for public awareness campaigns, in which victims are encouraged to speak out, and perpetrators are welcomed to seek help.
Just within the last week or so, we have witnessed two incidents in which women have fallen victim to hammer attacks by the men in their lives. In the first instance, the victim, a schoolteacher, died as a result of her injuries, while in the second, in a different part of the country the victim has lived, perhaps to tell her own story. In that second incident, a 22-year-old nurse fell victim an ex boy-friend, who clearly used a copy-cat method in exercising his sense of control.
Given the activities highlighted by the Ministry in addressing this troubling issue, there is perhaps the need for a louder, even more vigorous campaign aimed at men, perpetrators as well as others in general.
The ministry said also that it has held a number of “successful” parenting workshops for men. But to what extent such encounters addressed frontally the issue of violence against women, is not stated. Perhaps the Ministry’s NFSD could spell this out some more, in what is recommended as an expanded, more aggressive programme to arrest and beat back this social cancer.
Consistent with this dreadful development, and in line with the related predictions, incidents of domestic violence and abuse of women have appeared as a by-product of the Covid-19 lockdowns.
For those women and girls who have become victims on the basis of the public health advisories to “stay home and stay safe”, this issue of male-dominated domestic violence has taken on added significance.
It requires, therefore, a greater element of aggressiveness by the National Family Services Division, in collaboration with other related agencies, public and private, to meet the demand for more attention in this matter.
It must find a more recognisable place in our need for urgent national discussion, towards better solutions.