As a woman who has visited Barbados on many occasions it is with deep regret that the population is highly educated, purchase great houses and luxurious cars. Yet there is minimal discussion surrounding the rights of the girl child and women in Barbados. I do find in Barbadian society there is such a divide among class lines, therefore, people turn their faces when such incidents are not a part of their lives. The elite send their daughters overseas to school while the poor Bajan daughter either hit the employment pavements and become vulnerable to men who are old enough to be their fathers in the workplace. Such men impregnate and transmit diseases to these young women. For lack of policies surrounding women’s rights the girl child in the work place is always abused by the likes of xxx xxxxxx and are allowed to get away with such inappropriate behaviour. Where are the voices of Barbadian feminist and professional women who have remained silent when it comes to such issues. How can you go forward when you sit in silence when your children are being raped on a daily basis. I dare say progress is still far from moving forward.
To Barbados Underground you are doing great work but please speak out on behalf of the voices of those who have been silenced due to poverty or lack of education.
Source: BU Commenter
A contributor to Barbados Underground sent us the above note a while ago just after we ran the Roy Morris story. It is no secret that most of the people who visit our blog do so in the hunt for political commentary. Sometimes we get carried away with posting a preponderance of politically flavoured writings and forget that the medium of the Internet gives us the opportunity to highlight or expose vexing issues which are affecting us. This approach affords the opportunity for people to get involved and work to eliminate or alleviate some of the problems currently affecting our society.
One such issue is the continued abuse of our women and children in little Barbados by our men folk. As a boy we would have witnessed situations which caused us to question: under-aged school girls getting pregnant, females getting pregnant and the siblings baring close physical characteristics to a close family member, women and children screaming because of the physical abuse inflicted by a man who felt the compulsion to demonstrate his leadership of the household by ‘throwing blows.’ We find it troubling this is an issue in Barbados which is swept under the carpet, and when it peeps out the incidences are buried in our court system. To reinforce the point there are no sensible statistics available to accurately inform discussion. In fact many of the relevant agencies, e.g. Child Care Board, MESA, National Organization of Women appear not to have websites which they can use to disseminate information to a wider public – we did not find any when we checked. The unwillingness of such important organizations in our society to adopt modern avenues to further their respective causes is troubling.
On March 6, 2007 the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor released the following information which was published on the website of the US State Department:
Violence and abuse against women continued to be significant social problems. The law prohibits domestic violence, provides protection to all members of the family, including men and children, and applies equally to marriages and to common-law relationships. Penalties depend on the severity of the charges and range from a fine for first-time offenders (unless the injury is serious) up to the death penalty for a killing. Victims may request restraining orders, which the courts often issued. The courts can sentence an offender to jail for breaching such an order. The police have a victim support unit, made up of civilian volunteers, which offered assistance primarily to female victims of violent crimes.
Spousal abuse remained a problem during the year, despite legal protections against spousal rape for women holding a court-issued divorce decree, separation order, or non-molestation order. The law prohibits rape, and the maximum penalty for it is life imprisonment.
The government was committed to children’s human rights and welfare, although violence and abuse against children remained serious problems. Education was free, compulsory, and universal until the age of 16. The government estimated that 98 percent of children between the ages of five and 16 attended school. The highest educational level achieved by most children was secondary school. The National Health Insurance Scheme provided children with free medical and dental services for most medical conditions. The Child Care Board has a mandate for the care and protection of children, which involved investigating day care centers and cases of child abuse or child labor, and providing counseling services, residential placement, and foster care. The Welfare Department offered counseling on a broad range of family-related issues, and the Child Care Board conducted counseling for child abuse victims.
While Barbadians continue to be consumed by the high cost of living and the attendant issues there is sufficient evidence to suggest that women and children continue to be the two groups most vulnerable as a result. The leadership which exists in the social services appear to be lacking and significant resources maybe required to implement an effective framework for attacking the cowardly act which is perpetrated by men on our women and children. When one considers that the woman because of her matriarchal qualities, and the need for healthy children which are required by any society to sustain itself, then our problem becomes more apparent.
In a small country with limited resources, which is often used as THE excuse, it seems that women and children who are abused have no escape. There are no hostels, halfway houses or institutions which are provided to give refuge or to respite the abused groups. It seems inhuman that our civilized society would live with the hypocrisy of knowing that we have men who continue to prey on women and children and we continue to go about our business as usual.