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Gayle calls for holistic dialogue in combating violence against women

Published:Wednesday | April 17, 2019 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer

As the society continues to grapple with increasing incidents of violence against women, social anthropologist, Dr Herbert Gayle, is calling for holistic dialogue across the Caribbean in an effort to identify the reasons why some men choose to prey on women and children.

“The biggest problem for us male is getting to a point where we have a balanced agenda and a balanced discussion, a holistic discussion on gender in this country and the Caribbean region, and I think that is where the crisis is within the crisis,” he said.

Gayle told The Gleaner that understanding violence against women is to first understand why men in the first place choose to be violent and abusive towards the fairer sex.


“Most of our discussions, from CARICOM level all the way down, end up at the funnel, which is violence against women rather than understand that 92 per cent of our violence are men against men, and what is happening is that the same people who are the perpetrators of violence are the actual victims,” Gayle said.

He said that the data showed that men who committed violence against women were the same men who were battered by other men, whether by a father or stepfather. According to Gayle, the violence meted out to them was then foisted upon those deemed ‘weaker’, such as women and children.

“In the cases that I have, when you investigate, these men have massive problems with other men, who are stronger and hegemonic; so the hegemonic man that we are talking about batter the other men, and these men are transferring that to women and children, girls especially.

“We also find, too, that a lot of these women who batter children, they themselves were battered as children,” Gayle said.

Before a policy can be developed, Gayle said a multisectoral study was needed to fully understand the nuances that attached themselves to issues contributing to men across the region losing their status as protector and head of the family.

Addressing the opening session of a policy meeting on masculinity in the Caribbean, at The University of the West Indies (UWI) Regional Headquarters in St Andrew last Friday, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange said reports of violence against women and girls “are cause for concern”, and raised questions about the psyche of the country’s males.

The Inter-American Development Bank’s Caribbean Country Manager Therese Turner Jones noted that the incidents of gender-based violence across the region were among the highest globally, and pointed to the need for broad stakeholder dialogue to deal with the issue.

“We need to talk about it in a way that is healthy, because we are in a very toxic social environment. That’s an indisputable fact, and we need to come to terms with why this is, and what we can do to make our societies safer and healthier,” she added.