Letter of the Day: Police too blasé about violence against women
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Violence against women is a major problem in Jamaican society, and we have to work on addressing the issues surrounding why it is so prevalent and why it is under-reported. As someone who has gone through violence at the hands of an intimate partner, I know why women might be afraid to report being abused by a partner.
After living with my partner for more than three years, he began abusing me constantly. For a very long time, I made excuses for his behaviour and violence towards me. As it got increasingly worse, however, I started to become more and more open to reporting him to the police. I went to the police on three different occasions, and each time, nothing substantive was done to protect me from my abuser.
REPORTING THE INCIDENT
Having endured physical and emotional harm by my partner, on one occasion, I went to the police station to make a complaint. It was right after a particularly violent episode, and so I was fearful that my partner would abuse me even further when he found out I went to the police. The fact that I am blind also made me think twice about reporting as I wasn't sure how I would have been treated.
On informing the police that my partner was abusive towards me (I also had bruises at the time), I was met with indifference by the police on duty that day. They came off as callous in their interactions with me. Comments were made by the officers that indicate to me that they were insensitive or uneducated about intimate-partner violence.
One of the officers remarked that most women who came to the station to report domestic violence caused the altercation, and moreover, they often withdrew their statements. He went further to say, "Unnu soon mek up and all right again. Just nuh gi di man nuh trouble."
Despite the police's blasÈ handling of the situation, I went ahead and made my report that day anyway. The police spoke with my partner and kept him at the station for a short time and released him. I was so shocked and afraid when he came home that same night. He attacked me again, and this time I was hospitalised because he had kicked me in my pregnant belly. It was only after my doctor demanded that he be arrested that I was able to rid myself of this man who had tormented me for such a long time.
The interactions I had with the police have impacted on how I viewed my experiences. I questioned whether I was at fault and if I deserved the abuse meted out to me by my partner. Looking back, I think I would have got help and left the situation sooner if those interactions were more sensitive and supportive.
LORNA N.Z. PINNOCK